Making a connection

After enduring years of classes, tests and transcripts, the last thing most college students want is to graduate without any idea of what they will do next.

Unfortunately, many do.

Keeping these students in mind, officials with the Sam Houston State Alumni Association opened the organization to students last year by forming the Student Alumni Association. Membership within the SAA allows current students the benefit of networking, career advice and a permanent link to the university.

Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Kristle Castillo, who helped form the group last year, said the response from students has been overwhelming.

“The Student Alumni Association is growing rapidly and we’ve already surpassed doubling our number from last year,” Castillo said.

According to Castillo, the organization grew from 42 student members to more than 120 this year. The Alumni Association, which helps former students keep in touch with the university, boasts 7,000 members.

Becoming a member of the Student Alumni Association gives current students the opportunity to receive the benefits and networking abilities of the Alumni Association prior to graduation, Castillo said. At the events set up by Alumni Relations, students are able to meet former Bearkats who may have valuable career advice or even more valuable career opportunities.

“We feel a student group is a great idea because not only does it build loyalty and tradition between students, alumni and fans, but it gives them networking opportunities through the events with alumni,” Castillo said. “That way, students aren’t still looking for jobs after graduation. It gives them an opportunity to make that connection with people in the same field.”

“Networking is so important because you get that degree, and there are 1,000 other people that do as well. Networking lets you get your foot in the door; it’s the bridge between a degree and a job.”

With thousands of former Bearkats spread across the United States, the Alumni Association has its hands full. According to Castillo, the addition of current students to the mix provides the former students with a link to the Sam Houston State campus and incentive to help out their soon-to-be fellow alumni.

“The premise behind bringing students into the alumni group was so they’ll be invited to the events with the alumni,” Castillo said. “Our alumni love to hear about what’s going on at Sam and students love to see how maybe this person became a great entrepreneur. It benefits both sides. We’re a social organization as well, so it’s a great place to meet people and socialize outside of class.”

Meetings for the SAA are held on the first and third Mondays of each month and dues are $15 per year. Members also receive official SAA T-shirts, car decals and various publications throughout the year, as well as invites to events with the Alumni Association.

Students interested in joining can attend the organization’s meetings on the first and third Mondays of each month with the next meeting scheduled for Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. in the John R. Ragsdale Alumni Conference Room in the SHSU Visitor’s Center building.

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