Contact: Melisa T. Holmes email@example.com (801) 626-7212
GUEST EDITORIAL: WSU's diverse alumni defy stereotypes
Monday, May 24, 1999
By Jodi Kilcup
OGDEN, Utah - One size used to fit all. A few decades ago, "Life" magazine satisfied our nation's desire for great stories and photos. The dinner of choice was steak and potatoes. And everyone tuned in to "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Sunday nights.
Today, in a society shaped by cable TV, Internet shopping and global culture, there are options to match every conceivable interest. These new opportunities have taken non-profit support organizations, such as Weber State University's Alumni Association, into the progressive arena of niche marketing.
For some people, the word "alumni" conjures images of middle-aged sports fans. I recently met with a young, hip graphic designer who works on "Vista," WSU's alumni magazine. The publication's design, he thought, should be conservative and quiet - to match the taste of our alumni. I asked him to describe our alumni. Who did he think they were? After a moment of reflection the 20-something WSU graduate realized he is part of that group!
Conservative and quiet? Yes, that describes some of us. Middle-aged sports fans? You bet. Does that tell the whole story? Not at all.
Just consider the cross-section of generations and cultures represented by our alumni. A few weeks ago, graduates visited the Lindquist Alumni Center to pick up their caps and gowns for commencement. Diversity can be an abstract concept until you find yourself checking the height and head size of more than 1,400 people as you help dress them for one of life's important rituals. Alumni volunteers and staff issued regalia to grandmothers, parents with toddlers in tow, traditional grads and international students (including a group of Buddhist monks from Thailand).
Those graduates were headed out the door toward their dreams of working as teachers, artists, paramedics, accountants, social workers, computer programmers and a host of other occupations. Some were entering graduate school. Others had just completed their associate degrees and were ready to press on toward bachelor's degrees. We were honored to meet each graduate, learn of their achievements and offer them free membership for a year in the Alumni Association.
At the other end of the spectrum, we work with a lively group of emeriti alumni, who graduated from Weber State 40 years ago or more. They have watched their school move from downtown Ogden to its present location, and have helped it grow from a junior college into a university. Most of them experienced a close-knit learning community of several hundred students, contrasted with the 14,000 students on campus today!
Many of these alumni gathered on campus this month for their annual banquet and reunion. Dinner conversations covered the gamut including the usual family updates and reminiscing. But these folks might surprise you. At my table three of the diners were avid motorcyclists - proof our emeriti alumni are just as interested in the future as they are in the past!
FIND YOUR NICHE
Our association is committed to serving the ever-changing group that loves WSU, wants to support higher education and is looking for ways to connect with fellow alumni. We've designed a full menu of opportunities - aiming to offer something for everyone.
For instance, there's a recent grad who's holding down two jobs and is a new parent who takes his "junior cat" to WSU athletic events; the high-school teacher who finds enrichment by attending Alumni University seminars on history and creative writing; the executive who has signed up for our Utah Shakespearean Festival tour this summer and Alumni Campus Abroad trip to the Greek islands in November; and the vital group of women nearing retirement who have tapped into our investment group.
Whether you graduated this month or 50 years ago we want to hear from you. We're open to new ideas! Tell us what educational opportunity or activity would bring you back to Wildcat country. Contact Alumni Relations by calling 626-7535.
Jodi Kilcup is executive director of Alumni Relations at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.