Sitting onstage at the June convocation offered a unique perspective on the journey from student to alumnus.
It wasn’t the first time I was part of the platform party, but it was my first time as president of the University of Alberta Alumni Association. It was also the first time I knew several graduates crossing the floor. It was personal.
The sea of caps and gowns combined with the cheers and applause from proud friends and family was intoxicating; the shared sense of possibility and potential, tangible and real. What fresh ideas, perspectives and enthusiasm would these graduates lend the world? Where would they go, what would they accomplish and who would they become?
Life holds many points of transition. Soon a new cohort of students will infiltrate campus. Excited expectations will be balanced with tender trepidations. New connections and acquaintances will be made. Out of need and circumstance, comrades-in-arms will emerge. Friendships that become vital to the university experience will form and, as alumni know, often remain for life.
For many, university is the time we discover personal passions. It’s the time we make the choices that start to define who we will become as people and as citizens. As our cover story (page 18) describes, the experience can be easier when students know they have options, resources and support.
How can you help? If you’re a student, be generous; share your connections and your encouragement. If you’re a parent or family member, know that your children are joining a strong, supportive community that will buoy them for the rest of their lives. If you’re an alumnus, perhaps this is the time you can give back. You were a new student once. The students of today experience many of the same highs and lows you did. Be interested in who they are and what they are feeling. Share your survival tactics and let them know they’ll get through it!
And four … or five … or more … years from now, when those students cross the stage at convocation, celebrate their possibility and potential not only for the world, but as they become full members of our alumni family, lending their support to those who come after them.
Mary Pat Barry, ’04 MA
President, Alumni Association