With the necessary separation brought on from the global pandemic, alumni well-being has been pushed to the forefront more than ever before.
“It’s always been a priority for us, but this past year it became critical for us to play a supporting role for our alumni,” says John P. O’Neill ’86, St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) Alumni Association President. “We have taken a few steps already, but with the creativity and support of our diverse alumni network, many additional ideas are now being tabled.”
Renewed efforts to prioritize alumni well-being in a variety of initiatives took hold last spring with the introduction of the Alumni Information Series. The goal from the start was to provide virtual connections to replace the in-person alumni events.
Since March 2020, the Alumni Association has welcomed alumni ranging from the 1950s up to last year’s Class of 2020 to these events, featuring graduates sharing their industry expertise in virtual webinars. A variety of topics put forth by alumni have been presented, from entrepreneurship during a pandemic, to understanding employment law, to tips for staying relevant during a pandemic. The series has generated a lot of interest and fostered lively Q&A conversations.
“It was a great start, but what it really did was provide a foundation for us to regularly connect and support each other,” continues O’Neill. “Now the door is open to tailor more of these events to specific elements on alumni well-being such as living a healthy life, interactive webinars, and special interest clubs.”
For the school’s Alumni Affairs Office, they hope to offer diverse programming to engage alumni of all ages through this series. “We see value in providing more than just reunion and networking-focused initiatives,” says Stephanie Nicholls, Alumni Affairs Officer. “Student well-being has always been a priority at SMCS and so that focus must not be lost when supporting our loyal alumni.”
Following the footprint of the information series, the Alumni Association is finalizing a new webinar featuring a panel that will provide health tips to improve lifestyle as an adult. There will be an open discussion on the benefits of changing lifestyles at any age, how to create new habits, the balance of sleep, nutrition, and exercise, what the first change that can be made immediately is, and much more. Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer period.
The focus on well-being will also soon extend to the kitchen where cooking advice and tips will be shared through a live afternoon cooking class with the Foodies Group. Chef Damian Harrington (former student 1986-88) and moderator, Steven Hellmann ’96, the Foodies Group Founder, will interact with attendees as they answer questions and demonstrate how to prepare a delicious Sunday night family dinner in 75 minutes.
Shared interest clubs are another way the Alumni Affairs Office at SMCS is working to promote well-being and bring alumni together. An introductory email was sent to the alumni community in early March to gauge alumni interest in a reading club. The interest was overwhelming. Alumni from 1957-2018 have registered to connect over the joy of reading through a book club. Further, this spring, a triathlon club will be launched to promote recreation and healthy living. The triathlon club hopes to have alumni connect via Strava, an athletic app.
These are but a few of the initiatives being worked on as the Alumni Association expand their successful online presence and efforts to support the well-being of all alumni. Stay tuned for more sessions, stories, and registration information.