When I was a senior in high school faced with choosing a college, Tech did not become my top choice until I attended the UGA vs. Tech game in Bobby Dodd Stadium. My mind was easily made up as I left. This was not because Tech won, but rather because of my interaction with the people at the game.
As I observed the Tech alumni in their white and gold, cheering for their team with heart and energy, treating others with respect and exuding a sense of pride in their school, I knew I had identified a group I wanted to join. They were the peers I hoped to have in the future. It is this sense of pride I wanted to have for myself as I graduated.
Ambassadors is a student organization run through the Alumni Association. Part of our responsibility is to represent the student body to alumni, faculty, staff and visitors. We want to promote Tech for what it is today, better understand where is has been and partner with current initiatives to create a better and brighter future for the institution.
Through Ambassadors, I have had a variety of interaction with alumni and have been given a multitude of lessons from the alumni and their perspective on Tech. I think that the opportunity for partnership between Alumni and students starts while we are students.
They are able to communicate Tech’s past while we as students are able to describe the present and how we can work toward shaping the future together.
That perspective of the past is often the crucial link we miss as current students. There is a mindset that alumni-relations are only for when you graduate.
The reality is that building partnerships today enhances our time here. Seeing Tech through their eyes opens our eyes to opportunities for impact.
The alumni discuss the development of programs, ideas, values and organizations that have made a lasting impression on the school. Hearing these is motivating for us to seek out chances to do the same. The example alumni set for us as students to life out while we are here as well as after graduation.
Alumni relations don’t have to be as formal as they do intentional. Alumni of Tech have pride, class and prestige and are looking to connect with students today to find those same traits. Through the various interactions with Alumni there is a chance to find the similarities across gender, generation, discipline, affiliation and interest.
When we as students come to appreciate the experiences of Alumni, we can incorporate them into our lives as students today. Building on past experiences gives us the chance to maintain momentum in learning, tradition and growth for the school.
They are able to teach us to appreciate what we have. They are the givers of the opportunities, celebrating student successes and searching for ways to support the institution.
Alumni are seeking opportunities to support students. Alumni express an appreciation for the school developed through the perspective of looking back. They understand that the reputation of the degree they hold lies in the hands of students today. Alumni help you see the value of your education, even before you graduate.
Whether it is watching someone’s face light up when you say “go Jackets”, hearing about the legendary drown proofing or singing the fight song with someone you don’t know, the connection between Tech graduates and students is about finding common ground.
I have begun to understand that I am not just a yellow jacket for four years but for my lifetime. Seeing alumni interact at events, ceremonies or just around campus there is a sense of family among them. There are few schools with a bond that has the depth like the “white and gold.” There is an instant connection you will have with anyone in the Tech community.
This loyalty unifies people around the world. Interacting with alumni gives you the chance to develop that sense of ownership and belonging, as well as see Tech through their eyes.