As students head to their last classes and prepare for final exams, we celebrate the close of another great semester at West Virginia University! The last four months have been busy for us with an exciting football season, a trailer tour that took us halfway across the country, a very successful Day of Service where our alumni volunteered in their local communities, and most recently, a monumental Day of Giving. Thank you for your support in making this season an exciting adventure!
This year, we teamed up with the University and the State to help West Virginia solve some of its most challenging problems by launching the Mountaineer Alliance, a business-to-business network. Harnessing the knowledge, skills, wisdom, talents, and treasure of our business professionals, the Alliance can be a powerful force in helping our state.
Yesterday was a big day in the Frisbee household! Before I could even say hello, my daughter jumped right in with “Dad, I’ve got great news! I got into WVU!” The excitement in her voice put a huge smile on my face and instantly brought tears to my eyes knowing that she, too, would find a home at West Virginia University just as I had. There is something special about your children wishing to attend your alma mater and next year when she joins her brother at WVU, I’ll be grinning from eer to eer!
While we share our gratitude for having another Mountaineer in the family, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Can you believe it? The air is crisp, students are buckling down for the last push of the semester, our women’s soccer players are Big 12 champions, our football team is still in the championship hunt, and we just learned that John Chambers’ ongoing contribution could change the future for our state. Add to that the recent breakthrough we’ve had in combating Alzheimer’s disease along with other groundbreaking work from our researchers and it’s obvious we have plenty to be grateful for here at West Virginia University.
How many of you remember Taylor Runner? The student who used to bring his German Shepherd to old Mountaineer field during pregame to entertain fans with his frisbee catching prowess.
Denver Allen, the newest member of the Alumni Association team, does and was recounting this story the other day as he reflected on his time as a student at WVU.
In a recent conversation, a friend who is not a WVU alum was telling me how he likes to hire WVU graduates. He told me that compared to graduates of other institutions, his experience is that WVU graduates are more humble, technically competent with the added benefit of common sense and application focused, exhibit stronger work ethic, and lack entitlement. I was grinning ear to ear!
I’m sure you recognize these traits in the Mountaineers you know, and we see them year after year in the Alumni we recognize for their service contributions and professional achievements. This year’s class of Homecoming Awardees represents the best in what it means to be a Mountaineer!
Judy, a WVU junior majoring in political science, competed with top students nationwide to win a plum internship in Washington, DC. This was her chance to set herself up for post-graduation. However, she had a problem. The internship didn’t pay enough for her to live in the DC metro area. What did she do? She reached out to the Alumni Association for ideas. We sent a note to our alumni and problem solved. Malene, an alumna in Arlington, VA, offered her a place to stay for the summer. Judy not only completed her internship but went on to be hired into her dream job by her internship agency. That’s one example of how Mountaineers help Mountaineers.
John, a 1994 graduate, and his family watched the news with desperation last fall as Hurricane Harvey crept toward Houston. They’d been through hurricanes before, but never one with the devastation Harvey would inflict. As Harvey stalled over Houston and the water rose ever so close to their home, it was clear they’d have to evacuate. Moving what they could to the upper floors and packing the car with as much as they possibly could, John and his family left their home not fully understanding the total devastation that would come. Twenty-five other Mountaineer families experienced similar circumstances. But they were not alone in rebuilding, Heather and Chris, the Houston Alumni Chapter leads, activated the Mountaineer network collecting food, clothing, finding shelter, and organizing work crews to help these families out. Some of the families impacted still have not been able to return to their homes, but our alumni have continued to do what they can to help over the past 8 months. Another example of Mountaineers helping Mountaineers.
Three months ago, in my December blog, I mentioned the Mountaineer Alliance and that we’re planning on rolling it out to select cities across the country. As I write this blog, I am on an airplane heading to Austin where we will begin that rollout at the end of the week. So, you ask, what is the Mountaineer Alliance?
The Mountaineer Alliance is our business-to-business network designed to move Alumni and WV forward while creating economic opportunity and a secure tomorrow for future generations. It was originally conceived two years ago by our leaders of the National Capital Area Alumni Chapter. Their idea was to find a way for Mountaineer business owners/leaders to help other Mountaineer business owners/leaders be successful in their businesses while also helping the University and the State. The founders’ vision is that by working together we can help each other grow, expand, and thrive in the business environment.
The Mountaineer experience has a way of capturing one’s heart. No matter where we called home prior to WVU, we leave with a shared passion, dedication, and loyalty to West Virginia ingrained in our character.
We see this every day at the Alumni Association as we work to provide life-long support to Mountaineers everywhere. When we do this well, we help to create greater success in the lives of all Mountaineers as well as a secure tomorrow for future generations.
As the snow falls ever so delicately, I’ve been enjoying an unusually quiet morning with a cup of joe and a wonderful view of snow-covered Morgantown. What’s on my mind are the graduates who will walk the stage in a few days and how our Alumni Association will live up to our pledge of providing life-long support to these newly graduated Mountaineers.
This last year was a transformative one for the Alumni Association. We launched new programs such as our smartphone app, WVU Connect, and the Mountaineer Alliance. We expanded opportunities to meet fellow Mountaineers through national networking day and the launch of several new chapters. We engaged students with life-lesson opportunities through seminars and one-on-one meetings with alumni, and we tried new concepts such as our FanFest football tailgate, family adventure camp at Snowshoe, and the opening of an Alumni Store.
Have you logged into wvuconnect.com yet? You might want to check it out!
Just a few months into its launch, WVU Connect has been a powerful force by engaging Mountaineers in professional development, intentional mentorship, and social connection. In the spirit of empowering Mountaineers to help Mountaineers, we have seen the impact that our community can have when helping one other find paths to success.