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PHC Alumni Association Reaches Out to Students

April 8th, 2009

By Josiah Helms

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

 

Students square off against alumni in the annual student/alumni football game at Homecoming 2008

Currently one of Patrick Henry College’s best-kept secrets, the PHC Alumni Association boasts nearly 70% of alumni as its membership—around 200 PHC graduates in all. These young professionals, grad students, homemakers, and ministry workers have been seeking ways to give back to their school for the last several years, despite the fact that they are still a small organization, compared to the alumni associations of older schools.  This semester, the alumni have tucked away $2,000 from their own pockets to offer a scholarship to the winner of their third annual essay contest.  The essay emphasizes the transition from PHC to the workplace, asking PHC students to explain how they are going to be a force for good in the culture.
 
Another alumni project is the Adopt-a-Wing program begun by alumna Kirsten Dalton. One or two alumni, or an alumni couple, will adopt a residential wing in a PHC dorm and reach out to the occupants.  At least three times in the semester the alumni try to make contact with their wing, whether through something as exciting as bowling or driving to a basketball game, or as simple as baking cookies and hosting a game night.

In addition, if any students are nervous about the future, the Association is “here to help.”  President Michael Hengemuhle is working with his board of 14 members on a mentorship program to connect current students with past ones, “in order to coordinate better job placement in their field. . . . As alumni, our primary goal is to be a representative and liaison for graduates, to ease the transition and answer any questions as they’re trying to nail down a job or an internship.”

Alumna Amber Haskew founded a “Step-Up Program” focused on journalism majors seeking jobs.  She also helped start a program offering early Alumni Association website access to students in their final year at PHC.  As Vice President Matthew Roche says, “The Alumni Association exists to get students networked together after graduation and to get them in contact with each other and the school.  We want to keep good relations going and help build a base of graduates that can continue to benefit themselves and the school.”
 
Eventually, the Association would like to have enough funds to pay an alum to represent alumni and be a full-time presence on campus.  But in the meantime, the Association is hoping to start an advice column in the Patrick Henry Herald (PHC’s student-run newspaper), in which alumni will pass on knowledge about jobs, relationships, and life outside of college.
 
“If we are able to expand our base and offer a long-term fundraising platform,” Roche says, “we can achieve long-term goals like expanding the size of our scholarships.”  Fundraising programs could include everything from donor relationships to credit cards for full-fledged members that contribute a small percentage of every purchase to the Alumni Association.
 
Alumna Elisa Carlson, chair of the Alumni Relations Committee, is realistic, yet hopeful.  “The Alumni Association is still in a fairly young stage.  We’re still growing, still trying to develop a lot of programs that have not made it off the ground yet.  But overall . . . we see ourselves as part of the school, and because of this belief, we really want to stay connected with the students and have more of an impact on student life.  We want to do things that essentially say, ‘Hey, we’ve been there.  Keep going.’”