The student body president and alumni want Eastern students to understand they will always be Panthers, even after graduation day.
That's why Alumni Services and the EIU Alumni Association created the Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) organization, which aims to engage current students with Eastern alumni.
Erin Clemons, assistant director of Alumni Services, has worked with Student Body President Kaci Abolt to jumpstart the organization.
The main purposes of STAT are to help students network with EIU alumni and for alumni to feel engaged with their alma mater, Clemons said. Abolt, a senior communication studies major, emphasized the importance of the latter.
“Eastern alumni make so much of what we do at EIU possible,” Abolt said. “As a result of their giving, as well as constant support, we are able to grow and continue to excel in all forms of university life.”
Casandra Kasprowicz, a freshman communication disorders and sciences major, also understands the importance of keeping in contact with Eastern alumni.
“Those who graduate from EIU should have a strong sense of belonging and be proud of where they went to college,” Kasprowicz said. “They need to always be welcomed back, because EIU is their pride and joy, as well.”
Not only do current students such as Abolt and Kasprowicz understand the benefit of this organization, but alumni do, too.
Tim McCollum, a 1973 graduate and past president of the Alumni Association board, said the organization could serve multitude of purposes.
STAT can help students tap into the unlimited resources of alumni in whatever fields they are interested in, McCollum said. When students reach out to alumni, they can see Eastern alumni with very successful careers, he said.
“It is important for the students to know that you do not have to go to Harvard, Yale or a Big Ten university to be success,” McCollum said.
The organization also makes students realize the importance of giving back to the university after they graduate, he said. McCollum said there is a span of time between when students graduate and when they move on with their careers before they become attached to the university again. The organization can help decrease and eliminate this gap, he said.
This spring, STAT kicked off with a Student Philanthropy Day, during which more than 80 students thanked Eastern donors and benefactors by revealing their gratitude through letter writing and personal videos. A video compilation from the event is featured above, and the sentiments have been shared in mailers sent to donors and alumni, Clemons said.
The organization also sponsored a “Grad Bash” in March, where seniors signed up for caps and gowns, learned how to set up a LinkedIn page and checked to make sure they were registered to graduate.
In addition, STAT hosted a Senior Sendoff BBQ on campus on the last day of classes to celebrate the students' accomplishments.
Lisa Denson-Rives, the director of commencement and annual fund in Alumni Services, said the organization is also supporting the senior pledge, in which seniors agree to donate a total of $20.13 (representing the Class of 2013) over three years to the department of their choosing.
“I think it is a great idea to engage future alumni with giving, as well as making them aware of services available to them before, during and after graduation,” Abolt said.
In the future, Clemons wants the organization to have committee members and general student members, as well as regular meetings.
Upcoming events include a Student/Alumni Cubs Outing and Networking Lunch in Chicago on May 17. Students and alumni will gather for lunch at Boston Blackie's before heading to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs vs. Mets game at 1:20 p.m. Tickets can be purchased until May 1 on the Alumni Association website.