LSJ Alumni Outreach Committee helps connects alums with students

Even though the LSJ Alumni Outreach Committee was formed just a few months ago, it has already hosted two service events, the LSJ Day of Service and the One Night Count, and a career panel. It has also made some impressive additions the LSJ website to better connect alums with students.

Jill Anderson, who graduated in 2008, said that being part of the committee is a way for her to give back to LSJ.

“I really wanted to spend more time giving back to the major that I loved and to help students navigate through their time at UW and to share the experiences that I had there too, like how to make that transition from graduating college and making that next step,” she said.

Anderson explained that there are benefits for both alumni and students.

“The students benefit because they get to interact with alumni and see examples of what the future will be and ask those questions,” Anderson said. “The alumni benefit because they see that people are still learning and that it is important to keep learning and asking questions even after you graduate.”

The goals of the LSJ Alumni Outreach committee are to connect alums with students, celebrate the program and plan what the program can offer from alumni.

Anica Stieve, class of 2009, said that it was important for students to have someone to talk to about the next step after gradation.

“I think sometimes it’s overwhelming to navigate through the career world so to see people who have done that or are currently doing it gives them more connections and ideas of what to do in the future,” Stieve said.

Stieve said that having alumni around is helpful to current students because it helps them get perspectives on job options and different networks and agencies.

“We hope through the websites and the alumni profiles, events and panel discussions that we can create a link between current students and former students,” Stieve said. “The profiles are a way for current students to see what people are doing now and it makes contacting them accessible.”

Anu Sidhu, a sophomore studying LSJ said that the profiles were a good way for current students to get ideas about what to do in the future.

“I think the profiles are really helpful and the [LSJ alums] have done some amazing things so it’s good to learn about their experiences,” Sidhu said. “It also shows that they are willing to talk to you and share those experiences.”

Doug McManaway, who graduated in 2010, said that it was important for students in the major to have connections with people who have gone out and had real world experiences.

“I benefited a lot from role models and people who have come before me because I could draw from their experiences. It makes it easier for you to see a path. It may not be the path they took but it is a way to construct your own path based on what they shared with you,” McManaway said. “I think learning is a social process. The more voices you have, the more intellectually rigorous your education will be.”

McManaway said that it was important for him to be part of the LSJ alumni committee to give back to the program that gave so much to him.

“Alumni in LSJ feel a very strong connection to their major and they want to give back as much as they have the time to do so,” McManaway said. “So the events and the changes to the website allow alumni to give back and feel reconnected.”

The first event that the LSJ Alumni committee organized was the One Night Count in January where LSJ students and alumni volunteered together to help count men, women and children outside in order to better gauge homelessness in our community.

“The inspiration to have the two service events comes from what LSJ professors try to teach us. It’s nice to have these classes where we talk about all this injustice in the world but what are we doing about it?” McManaway said. “We have to be knowledgeable both in theory and in practice. So service events fulfill that need of learning what goes on, on the ground.”

The second event was the Day of Service, when LSJ students and alumni volunteered at the Downtown Emergency Center in February helping create space for a collection center and interacting with residents.

Andrea Greenstein, a senior studying LSJ and Spanish, said that service events are a great way to interact with alumni.

“I thought it was a meaningful experience because I’m definitely interested in what the LSJ alums have done and because we did it in the context of a volunteer activity. It was perfect,” said Greenstein.

Besides the two service events, the LSJ alumni committee helped organize a career panel where LSJ alums Steven Yim and Rachel Mathisen spoke to a group of students about life after graduation.

Leslie Berkseth who graduated in 2011 said that career panels are a great way for students to see the diversity of opportunities that they can pursue with an LSJ degree.

“I think alumni represent everything a person can do with a degree in LSJ. Because LSJ is such an open-ended degree, you can go to law school, work with a non-profit organization or work in the criminal justice system,” said Berkseth. “I think it’s important for alumni who have made that transition to pass on any knowledge that they’ve acquired to students who might not know what they want to do or how to get into the career they want to get into.”

Anderson said that as an alumnus, talking to current students at events and seeing their passion and knowledge about topics made her happy.

“It’s nice to see that other people enjoy the major as much as I did and that they are still questioning and that they have their own take on classes that I took,” Anderson said.

Anderson also said that although she doesn’t have to do homework or think about exams anymore, she is excited to see students and think about her own experiences.

“I saw students [at the Day of Service] talk about proposals for their papers and I’m really happy to be done with that but it’s nice to see that youthful zest that they want to learn,” Anderson said.

The committee also plans to have alumni-only events so that LSJ alums can network and reconnect with their former classmates.

“For me, it’s special because you’ve been through the same thing,” Anderson said. “It’s a good chance to see people again and to get to know people better than when I was a student.”

McManaway said that it was important for alumni to be part of the committee to help the program grow.

“One of the main ways LSJ will continue to grow and perform is through community support. More internship spots, more donations to the program, more scholarships, more cutting edge research and seminars that make the program so unique and special, alumni are critical to all those things” he said.

Berkseth said that she thinks that the committee is a great way for alumni to keep in touch with the program and an opportunity for current undergrads to see that when they graduate, they are still important to the program.

“It’s inspirational to see what our alums have accomplished and what they’ve done in their lives,” Berkseth said. “I really hope the LSJ alumni committee will encourage alumni to continue to give back and will also help current students and undergrads make the most of their time at the University of Washington and the most of their LSJ degree in the future.”

This article was composed by Charlotte Anthony.