Springfield College is a school strongly based on tradition, so it’s no surprise that the Student Alumni Association tries hard to nourish and uphold time-honored events such as the greased pole climb at Sti-Yu-Ka and the wearing of freshmen beanies. The association is also working hard to build new traditions, such as the Career Networking Coffee House.
The Coffee House was held last Thursday, Nov. 29 in the Dodge Ballroom located in the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union. With over 70 alumni and 100 students in attendance this year, this once small event has been growing every year since its inception four years ago.
The Coffee House’s main purpose is to group students and alumni based on majors so that students have the chance to meet successful Springfield College graduates in their area of study in order to make connections with them.
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Shannon O’Neill believes that the alumni have a lot to offer the students who attend.
“The connections that alums have, particularly in coaching and teaching are great,” said O’Neill. “They may not be able to give a million dollars to the college, but they can give back in this way.”
This event is not just for the students’ sake, though.
“It is a different kind of engagement for alumni,” O’Neill adds. “This is a contact with a current student; it is a lot more meaningful of a relationship and connection with the college than just a normal visit to campus.”
The upstairs portion of the Union was filled with alumni of all different ages, some who graduated just last year, while some graduated as far back as 1957. Matt Joseph, who was a graduate in 1993, attended this year to give back.
“I come back because I am now in a position to help students,” Joseph said.
Similarly to Joseph, Brad Perham (‘66) thinks that his many years on the job could prove to be helpful to students looking to get into Perham’s former field of being an athletic director.
“I have something to offer the students in my field with my years of insight,” Perham explained.
The alumni are not the only ones who were excited to be there. Students who were given an invitation to the event formed a line that went around the corner waiting to receive their name tag with their table assignment on it.
Sophomore Kimberly Grey was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the alumni who were pre-assigned to her table.
“I’m hoping that something the alums say will interest me, like this is what I want to do because it scares me that I am still undecided,” Grey said. “That’s what I’m hoping for and [also] just connections and opportunities for anything.”
Senior Erin Knight has attended the Coffee House all four years and has had no problems finding connections along the way, for example connecting with Mike West (‘65) who was a lawyer. Knight and West have stayed in contact since last year, and he has helped her tremendously along the way with a potential future in law.
With the return of so many alumni, many laughs were shared as alumni were encouraged to share their fond memories of Springfield College with students. Stories ranging from hour-long van rides with fellow volleyball teammates, to seeing the old Field House getting torn down were bounced back and forth between fellow alumni as students added in their own stories.
The night eventually came to a close as students left, with smiles on their faces and business cards in their pockets, containing the names of the enthusiastic alumni who shared their knowledge with the eager students.
With its recent success, the Coffee House is an event that is on its way to turning into another classic Springfield College tradition.