GPSolo Magazine - July/August 2006
Alumni Associations: A Merger of Past and Present
My parents are “Miami Mergers.” In layperson’s terms, Miami Mergers are couples that attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, met, fell in love, and got married. Since high school I believed I, too, would attend Miami and become a Merger. Well, I made it inside the gates of Miami. However, after countless sorority date parties and infinite nights spent at the uptown “establishments,” alas, I graduated single. Free as a bird, I flew from gray Ohio to the sunny skies of Denver, Colorado, and commenced law school and my legal career. I quickly converted into a Denverite—skiing every weekend possible and becoming a bandwagon Broncos fan.
As much as I loved Denver, I could not rid myself of my unforgettable experiences at Miami. Surfing the Miami website one day, I noticed an upcoming alumni association event in Denver. I must admit, when I first attended Miami alumni events, I secretly hoped I still had a chance to meet my Miami Merger here in Denver. (After a number of nights spent in the Lower Downtown “Lodo” establishments and still single, I had begun to think I needed to seek my soul mate in a different venue.)
While my initial motivation to attend Miami alumni functions might not have been the most commendable, I fortunately learned the numerous other benefits of the alumni association. Many friends have moaned that alumni associations are merely about providing the university another chance to suck their pockets dry. I respectfully disagree. I am a passionate advocate of participating in alumni associations as a way to build one’s own unique community within the big city, sprawling suburb, or rural county in which one lives. The alumni association has helped me to stay true to my roots while also creating a stronger connection to the new community in which I live.
The most obvious benefit of being involved in the alumni association is the networking opportunities it provides. The alumni association brings together doctors, farmers, insurance agents . . . you name it. However, this diverse group of people has an instant connection. Recent graduates and graduates of 30-plus years ago, all can reminisce about college traditions, the beauty of the campus, the places they lived, the professors that motivated them.
As a young associate attorney, I do not have the background experience to differentiate myself from other attorneys in Denver. Some pressure to bring new business to my firm has already commenced. The alumni association is an excellent way for me to distinguish myself and connect with potential clients who are also Miami graduates.
The Miami Alumni Association has personalized the legal community for me. As a third-year law student struggling to find a job, I contacted the local Miami Alumni Association president, also an attorney. She instantly responded, putting me in touch with several other attorneys in the Denver area. I quickly met criminal lawyers, commercial dispute lawyers, insurance defense lawyers—all Miami graduates practicing in the area. We have since organized lunches of the Miami alumni attorneys in Denver to share experiences, network, and discuss the Denver legal community. If nothing else, it has been a support system for me, providing mentorship, ideas, and a sounding board. The alumni association has helped me build a smaller professional circle within Denver’s large legal community.
The alumni association is an easy opportunity for community service. As part of alumni events, we sponsor canned-food drives and participate as volunteers at events for underprivileged children. We plan an annual wine tasting/silent auction event to raise money for a scholarship for a Colorado resident to attend Miami University. All alumni are encouraged to reach out to the community to solicit auction items for the event. Getting involved in these events is an excellent opportunity to meet civic leaders and give something back.Your undergraduate or graduate school experiences will always be with you. It is fulfilling, if not amazing at times, to meet others in a far-off land who share those experiences. And no, in case readers were wondering, I have not met my Miami Merger in Denver. But I am not disappointed. The alumni association has made so many other connections for me that I can wait patiently for fate to bring me that one.
Natalie Lucas is an associate in the firm Zupkus & Angell, P.C., in Denver, Colorado. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.