Pictured above are members of the 2019-2020 Young Alumni Advisory Council. (Back, left to right: Philip Ollendike, John Woodard, John Lierley, Mark Kent Anderson, Theo Williams III, and Truman Van Veckhoven. Front, left to right: Adam West, Pedro Cobos, Alden Cartwright, Katy Stuart, Dorothy Kemp, and Bailey Kidd. Not pictured: Carlton Miller)
Council members and friends enjoy the Young Alumni Tailgate on October 26, 2019 before LSU vs. Auburn.
Young Alumni Council: LSU’s Vision for Tomorrow
The LSU Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Advisory Council is working to help all young LSU alumni “love purple and live gold” after graduation. The thirteen-member council was created in in 2019 to help improve the University’s engagement with its young graduate population.
While many young LSU alumni engage with their alma mater in some way, the Young Alumni Advisory Council hopes to communicate the advantages of establishing a formal relationship with LSU post-graduation.
“I think it’s a misnomer that young alumni aren’t connected to the University,” council member Theo Williams said. “We’re connected to our classmates and LSU sports. The major challenge is formally cementing that connection so that we’re a full community.”
The council meets four times a year to deconstruct the needs of LSU’s young alumni and create strategies to encourage more young professionals to get involved with the Association, as well as their local alumni chapters. As young professionals themselves, council members are able to provide unique perspectives about the relationships recent LSU graduates have with the University. Council member Dorothy Kemp explained that many young alumni may not even recognize the benefits of engaging with the Association.
“We need to do a better job of communicating what the value is for those young alumni to be engaged with the institution, whether that be through internships, jobs, networking, or social events,” Kemp said. “The benefits are there; it’s the communication aspect we need to work on.”
Several council members mentioned that one way young alumni can stay connected to LSU is through joining their local alumni chapters. The Association currently sponsors more than 130 alumni chapters throughout the United States and in other countries. Chapters host various events throughout the year, including football watch parties. Most recently, some forty alumni chapters across the country held watch parties for the College Football Playoff National Championship in January.
In this same spirit, the Young Alumni Advisory Council hosted its inaugural Young Alumni Tailgate before the LSU vs. Auburn football game last October.
The council members themselves are also a representation of LSU’s large alumni network across the nation. Several council members hail from Louisiana but relocated after graduation. According to council member John Woodard, who recently returned to Louisiana after several years in Washington, D.C., this diversity greatly benefits the council.
“We’re geographically very diverse with this group, and I think that’s very important,” Woodard said. “Everyone’s got a different view or angle on what the problems may be.”
Kemp added that bringing together a geographically diverse group of young alumni can also reveal common experiences within alumni chapters across the country.
“It allows us to see what’s going on all over the country,” Kemp said. “We found a lot of chapters are having the same experiences. If we get these chapters talking to each other on how to engage young alumni, then the Association can really benefit.”
Many of the council members felt called to give back to LSU in some way after graduation. As Williams said, most were involved in student organizations or initiatives while at LSU, so serving on the Young Alumni Advisory Council is a “natural extension” of that service.
“I love LSU and everything about it, and I want to help the Association reach my generation to help LSU grow,” council member Alden Cartwright said. “I’ve been a Tiger fan since I was a little kid, so it was easy to want to help LSU. Now that I’m in a position where people have helped me, I want to give back and help others.”
Bailey Chauvin is a political science sophomore and news editor of The Reveille.