Kathleen Holloway ’08 was intimidated when she joined the Student Alumni Association as a freshman. “I used to put alumni on a pedestal,” she says. But since then, she’s come to find their perspective invaluable. “Back at Alumni Honors in 2006”, she says, “an alumna gave me some advice that’s stuck with me. She told me: ‘Just jump. Even though others might be against it, if you think it might make you happy, just jump and learn from there.’” With graduation looming, Holloway’s seriously considering heading off to Italy to teach English, at least in part because of that guidance.
USD’s Student Alumni Association takes a proactive stance in connecting current students with alumni. Witness the annual Take a Torero to Lunch event, which brought together 20 alumni with 60 students this March. Many of them were looking for practical advice. For example, how do you find your dream job right out of college? The main challenge lies in getting organized, according to Sean Coughlin ’89. “Make a list of your short-term, medium-term and long-term career and life goals,” he advised USD students. “Look at the list at least once per week.”
But Megan Fonseca ’01 has a completely different take on finding your bliss. The assistant lighting director for the Old Globe Theatre says that landing her job was a bit of a fluke. “If it wasn’t for a former professor’s offer to make a call to a USD alum to see if they had any openings, I wouldn’t have even thought of working at the Old Globe.”
This year’s keynote speaker, Rebecca Smith ’93, was eloquent in addressing attendees. “Beyond networking, let’s think about building community,” she said. “Let’s not think about what we can get, but about what we can give.” Smith also talked about the need for authenticity, boldness and compassion by students. “What I love about USD is that we care, and compassion is about bringing our passions to others.”
“It’s wonderful to hear students say how much they’ve been impacted by an alumnus they met at an SAA event,” says Sarah Evenskaas ’97 (MBA ’03), associate director of Alumni Relations. “And alumni enjoy the experience as well. They like to come back to campus. They really feel like they’re making an impact with current students.”