As students, we are all a part of the Southeastern family.
We feel it, we know it. We’ve made friends, attended games, bonded with professors, been involved, and been a part of something larger than ourselves. As we graduate and move into careers, new geographic locations, family life, and other major life changes, our focus tends to look forward, not back. The time spent at Southeastern is a great memory, but many of us lose touch.
Southeastern needs its alumni. While it always needs the financial support of graduates, it also needs another type of support—involvement. As our graduates know, what is special about Southeastern is its caring environment where you feel like people know you and are concerned about your future and success. That family-like culture also stems from alumni stepping up to be supportive with their time and talents.
Two new programs have been launched to bridge the space between being a student and making financial donations. That space is all about involvement.
This online community was launched as a networking-type platform for Southeastern alumni and friends to meet, build networks, offer mentoring, and support career development and advancement. Southeastern Connect is a platform in which Southeastern alumni can reach out to other alumni, primarily for the purpose of ultimately advancing one’s career.
Much like a Southeastern specific social media site, it serves to help people find one another and make contact. Alumni can search for mentors and networking opportunities, as well as browse job listings. Whether one is in need of a mentor or looking for a job, Connect can help.
“It was so easy to find someone and make contact,” said Allie Dyer, graduate student in business. Dyer searched for people in her area that were also in the banking industry and found Shane Purvis (class of ’10), small business relationships manager at Fidelity Bank, and sent a message.
“I wanted to investigate if the banking and finance industry might be a good fit for me and my skills. I found Mr. Purvis, reached out to him and we met to talk. His insights were great and the time he spent with me has given me a great deal of practical knowledge,” she concluded.
Dyer is one of many who are already taking advantage of this new platform. As of publication, Southeastern Connect has 20,000 page views and over 700 active users, 80 percent of whom have indicated that they are willing to mentor fellow alumni.
“We really felt that our alumni involvement in this career focused sector needed some help and a place where people can interact specifically geared toward building careers,” said Executive Director for Alumni Relations Michelle Biggs. “We are focused on building significant levels of involvement. While all alumni cannot always give financially, they can give of their time and talents.”
Ultimately Southeastern Connect gives working professionals the chance to step forward and make a difference in the lives of Southeastern alumni and students.
“Young alumni are so important to a vital alumni program, and they are often a missing piece of the complete puzzle,” said Biggs. “Younger graduates from recent years have the desire to stay involved and do something meaningful with their time, but are often lost in the shuffle after graduation.”
Nationwide, universities are seeing the need to create programs specifically geared to keeping recent graduates from losing their connection to the university. Southeastern’s answer: the GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) Council.
The Alumni Relations Office has been charged with building meaningful programming and opportunities for young alumni—opportunities where they can both give and receive. They can receive guidance and help as they launch their lives, but they can give of their time and help service the needs of others as well. The GOLD Council is an initial group of 12 young alumni who will work to connect alumni efforts of the University with the needs of their generation.
“Young professionals continually express the desire to give back. They want to make a difference and tend to have a very philanthropic mindset. Southeastern’s effort to reach out and develop this group and opportunities for them is a great idea,” said David Cavell, GOLD Council member.
The GOLD Council held its inaugural meeting this summer. “Our goal was to start to build a team culture and ethos by bringing in speakers to get the program off to a spirited start,” said Biggs.
Members include David Cavell of Thibodeaux; Shawn Gatlin of Brooklyn, New York; Michael Kyles Jr., Marjorie Parker, and Yazmyn Smith of Hammond; Chris Mycoskie of McKinney, Texas; Renee Picou of Livingston; Shane Purvis of Mandeville; Malayne Sharp of Denham Springs; William Takewell of Lexington, Kentucky.; and Jeremy Troulliet and Rebecca Schnadelbach Troulliet of Ponchatoula.
By Mike Rivault