Following her ’00 graduation, IWU alumna Emily Byrer lived in locations where alumni rarely met to share experiences and had little, if any, organized interaction. The problem continued when she moved to the Northeast. So when the IWU Alumni Board of Directors nominated her to be on an advisory council geared at connecting New England alumni, she jumped at the opportunity.
Emily has always loved connecting people. As a freshman and sophomore, she resided in Shatford House. “That really made my college experience,” she says. “I still talk to those girls.” Emily – a marketing and business administration major with an art minor – was also a publicity coordinator for the Student Activities Council. As part of SAC, Emily was “a catalyst for bringing people together and creating memories.”
Post-graduation, she worked in the hotel industry for several years before opening her own company. MICAH:6 offers diverse services, including marketing, fundraising and event management, culinary services, and investment consulting. Says Emily, “I took the relationship building [I learned at IWU] into the professional world, and I positioned MICAH:6 as a way to bring people together, whether that’s corporate events, fundraisers, [or] dinner parties … There’s value in making connection[s].”
Now, Emily is bringing her relational skills to the New England advisory council, one of several regional councils that meet a few times each year to promote homecoming involvement and alumni engagement in their respective regions. Emily is excited to serve the 100-plus alumni in her area. Because she was previously unaware how many alumni live in the Northeast, she believes others may be making the same mistake; she hopes to help them locate and connect with each other.
“My goal would be to set up a quarterly networking or family event,” says Emily, although geography will affect event planning. “Because New England covers five or six states … there may be pockets of alumni 150 miles apart,” she explains. “There may not be one central networking opportunity. It may be a series of little events.”
Developing such events will take time. However, Emily believes social media can help alumni make connections during the interim. She suggests that alumni use the Alumni Portal, where you can search for other active alumni by city or zip code. Recently, she also launched a New England Alumni Facebook.
Most of all, she wants to create an established group of active alumni, so new alumni arriving in the region won’t have to start from scratch. “The biggest goal is setting up something that can continue, sustaining either a core network or way of getting information out,” she says.
The advisory council needs the help of local alumni to do that. The council would love to know about any events already happening in New England, no matter how small or informal they may be, and to be involved in those. As Emily says, “You never know where the next opportunity is coming from.” To tell the council about a current event or offer suggestions, contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Megan Emily. Megan is a senior English/Writing major and a member of the John Wesley Honors College. She also operates Earthworms, a blog about finding hope and security.