Admittedly tired, yet keeping calm because an extra glob of anti-wrinkle cream will smoothly hide any new lines I earned this weekend, I look outside the window. For 8:43 p.m. it's still light out and that is good! I love summer... or should I say, late spring. The second weekend in June has come and gone, once again.
For those of us working and living in academia (which often seems a world of its own, you know, like Narnia) we must make a note that it is a world the includes learning, research and whether we like it or not, public relations. GASP.. Yes, I just committed academic blasphemy! Relax and keep reading. ;)
I come from a higher education perspective that would unfortunately, cease to exist if all affected or touched by it suffered from amnesia. Memory loss is unacceptable and seriously frowned upon. I work in an area that relies solely on memories, past experiences, good and bad. Where nine out of ten members of this crazy community believe in people who taught them to think, to serve, to ask questions. In people that were strangers at 17, but became soul mates and friends for life by the time they were 22. Every day I speak to individuals who know a bar is not just a bar, but often a sacred space of gathering and having perhaps, some of the most meaningful, thought-provoking conversations; where tailgating "in the snow" means so much when it's February because we "are" a basketball school; a place where people know that the word "ghetto" is NEVER meant to be used in a negative or derogatory way and where an oversize, mascot-like aviator sports his bomber jacket strutting his swag down pavers that lead to what was once Rudy's Fly-By.
Well, folks, I hope you get it by now. My daily dose of espresso-filled I-V as a professional in higher education is not immersed in your typical public relations, however. My world is alumni relations. Yes, we deal with the public and we must strengthen and build on relationships. However, our "public" is a tiny bit exclusive. They all have one thing in common. They graduated from the same university.
Celebrating the past only feeds the future and that is what I love the most of what we do. Not that reliving the best years of our lives isn't the highlight of my work days. That is certainly part of it. However, the fire that was lit in the hearts of those former students, now proud and loyal alumni, is still burning. We are grateful.
Alumni are the future of an institution. They were once the very students who questioned the truth, who stayed up all night to complete a challenging research project suggested by a professor just because he said "you can do this"--- Insert expletive here!--- only to much later realize, he was right. That very professor who challenged the student, saw promise and believed. Thank you tough, antiquated professor, for the tougher the class, the more you truly learned. Because you remember. ;)
While we are all about the history, traditions and memories made in college years of past, allow me to once again make a point and point (no, no pun intended!) to the future. Alumni came and went this weekend. Second weekend in June, Dayton, Ohio. The questions, stories, memories made were slightly different though. Ha! Gotcha! Alumni made new memories visiting with current students, asking THEM questions, listening to THEIR stories, feeling hopeful about THEIR DREAMS, much like they felt 15, 20, 50 years ago. I witnessed joy, craziness incarnate at the late hours of the night (or should I say earliest hours of the morning;)) and a re-commitment of love and loyalty to the alma mater that educated all. To witness generosity at its core and a belief in helping fulfill dreams of others, strangers first, Flyers forever. I am one lucky gal. This is their university now. This was their university then. This is our university, too.
To the past, present and future, cheers!!