Young Alumni Council preserves GV community ties

GVL / Courtesy Assistant Director, Alumni Relations Alexis Rangel
Young Alumni Association

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GVL / Courtesy Assistant Director, Alumni Relations Alexis Rangel Young Alumni Association

Maddie Forshee

Of the many decisions that accompany soon-to-be graduates, Grand Valley State University’s Young Alumni Council works to make sure that one of those decisions is to stay involved with the community and foster new relationships with other alumni, no matter where they may end up.

The Young Alumni Council serves to continue the connection between alumni and the university as they transition from being students to graduating and being on their own. The council was created in 2008 after there was a noted gap between the alumni populations due to a growth of GVSU students around that time.

“(Young alumni) want to be engaged, they want to stay connected to the university after they graduate and they’re used to being part of (GVSU’s community),” said Alexis Rangel, assistant director of alumni relations. “The council was created to address that.”

Over the years, the council has grown from a small sounding board of individuals working at the university to a working council with multiple responsibilities. In the past two years, three committees have formed within the council: the funding committee, the engagement committee and the activities committee.

The Young Alumni Council has become much more hands-on in the work that they do. Whether it’s hosting events, drumming up interest, volunteering at events or raising money for alumni, the committee is directly involved.

Rangel said the Young Alumni Council wants to extend the excitement of being a first-year student and getting involved on campus to afterward, when those students graduate and may not know how to stay involved. The council gives them a channel through which to stay connected to the community they had once spent much time in.

The Young Alumni Council currently has 29 volunteer alumni from a variety of majors and employment sectors. The council has a limit of 35 members, and it tries not to exceed two members per graduation year so that all decisions which are made can span the scope of the young alumni that could be involved.

The council usually holds four events per year, including Homecoming and Gradfest. Other events range from networking to sports outings as a group. Every other year, the council holds an event called “Life 101” to help new graduates figure out solutions to real-life problems they may be faced with post-graduation.

When it comes to the national level, the council and its volunteers try to plan events to get alumni in different areas of the country together. In the past, there have been events in Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Offering opportunities to volunteer for alumni who are not on the council is an important facet of the Young Alumni Council, Rangel said. The Office of Alumni Relations hosts Community Outreach Week, where alumni unite for seven days of service around the world. Former Lakers are encouraged to volunteer within their local communities to continue the tradition of giving that GVSU bestows upon its students.

Jarrett Martus, a member of the Young Alumni Council, said the council tries to tie in a fundraising aspect to every event they host.

“We are trying to educate young alumni on the importance of giving back once they’ve graduated,” Martus said.

The Young Alumni Council exists so alumni can get involved, whether it is through attending a baseball game, volunteering at a local nonprofit or going to a networking event. These activities serve to connect alumni with each other in order to foster new relationships.

For more information about the Young Alumni Council, visit Applications for the 2015-2016 academic year are due on June 30, 2015.

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