On commencement day, college graduates walk in a single direction to receive their long-awaited diplomas. Once that diploma is in their hands, the graduates are off in different directions. Sometimes these career choices call for a person to relocate to another area, which can have an impact on the circles of friendship that they had in their college days.
College alumni associations are one way to maintain friendships made on campus.
Mollie (McGovern) Hartup, assistant director of alumni relations at Youngstown State University, said the alumni association at YSU holds numerous events to keep alumni in touch with each other and the campus. Hartup said that Youngstown State University has alumni chapters in various parts of the United States. She said that the further away that graduates and alumni are from the area, the more excited they are to get together based on their common YSU bond.
"It's more exciting to bump into someone in Phoenix, Ariz., wearing at YSU T-shirt and then you strike up a conversation," Hartup said. "A lot of what we do is re-engaging alumni with each other and the university through events. These events can take the form of events on campus and in the community. We are also looking to reach out to alumni outside of the area."
Hartup said common YSU alumni events are informal networking receptions.
"These events allow alumni to talk with each other. We like to share updates on what is taking place on campus with photos and videos of campus just to keep them updated, since they have not been on campus in a while," Hartup said.
Shelly LaBerto, of Boardman, is a 1990 graduate of Youngstown State University, where she was a political science major and a business minor. She said she was able to maintain her job through senior year and graduated and went straight to work in her career. LaBerto worked as a business intern for the Chick-Fil-A Co. in Atlanta. This position required LaBerto to move out of the area.
"With my job, I moved around a lot, and it was flexible to make friends. It took a while, and then once I settled in one location, I was able to join a community organization, which was in Bridgeport, W.Va. I joined the local recreational center and played in tennis leagues and through that, I met some friends. Joining a civic organization that interests you is a great way for you to meet people with similar interests," LaBerto said.
LaBerto said that when she moved back to northeast Ohio and became a part of the YSU Alumni Organization, she came in contact with people she met in college that she never thought she would see again. She said she travels with the YSU Alumni Organization as a volunteer.
"Friendships are important, whether it's companionship, or building mentoring relationships," Hartup said. "You never know where life is going to take you. Basically, alumni are welcome to reach out to us in alumni events, and we might coordinate a small gathering."
Trevor Sudano, former resident of Niles, studied architecture at The Ohio State University and then moved to the Republic of Namibia in southern Africa, getting involved in the Peace Corps.
"I guess I was always involved in service and volunteer groups in high school and college, and that is why I joined the Peace Corps," he said. "I was always interested in traveling. In the Peace Corps, I made friends who were mostly Peace Corps volunteers. After the Peace Corps, I moved to Columbus, and now most of the people I made friends with are people I work with."
Getting involved on campus through student activity groups, as Sudano did, enhances friendships that can last beyond graduation.
"If you might have lived on campus, then your college friendships might have been closer," Hartup said. "People who are involved in affinity groups like band or the campus newspaper, The Jambar - alumni who were involved in these groups stay in touch. Being involved in affinity groups while in college helps alumni stay in contact with friends they have made. We have alumni groups not only based on geography but also on common affinity groups. We are always looking for new ways to reach out to alumni. We are using email more to reach out to alumni and helping alumni connect with each other."