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January 7, 2015
by: Tad Phippen Wente, College Readiness Coordinator

Alumni Day

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Alumni Day (Staff calls this the best day of the year.)

I feel like a fly on the wall. I’m witnessing a rite of passage, a passing of the baton. We sit in a wide circle of chairs in the Board Room. The guests, former IDEAS students, introduce themselves: name, college, major(s) and minor(s), future plans. Today they range in age from 18 to 22. Currents of recognition and nervousness crisscross the air. An awkward hush. Then someone begins the conversation.

First of all, don’t be afraid to apply for all the scholarships you can.

And do it now! Don’t put it off!

I’ve had two jobs all four years of college.

What kinds of scholarships…?

My roommates are awesome.

What is an RA? What do you mean by “suite”?

Don’t live with your best friend! Pick a random roommate!

Did you ever…?

Get involved with community!

My room is the size of those six tables.

One time I...

Try to get a campus job.

If you end up with a bad roommate, are you stuck with them?

The dorms are expensive, but…

What about stress?

My roommate hid the dirty dishes under his bed.

How did you move to New York?

Take care of yourself first!

Stories, questions, answers and more stories spiral through the room. I watch the seniors’ faces tune in to every word. Adults can tell the students what to do and how things will be, but peers can really let them know what it’s like to find money for tuition, have parents as roommates and why it’s important to make new friends and get involved in campus activities. The alumni are proof that seniors can graduate and make that transition into college and beyond. It’s just what the seniors need to learn. We end the hour with a round of future plans from each senior-—the alumni wanted to hear!—then we all walk back to the IDEAS office together, still sharing thoughts, questions and suggestions.

Though it’s one of the coldest days of the year, I’m feeling warm and fuzzy. Our students never really leave us. They come back to share their discoveries and lend a hand to the next generation of graduates. That’s our community! Other alumni will stop in to check on us and share how they’re doing throughout the year, they’ll attend EoLs, some will speak at our Baccalaureate ceremonies, many will attend Alumni Day next year or the next. I marvel at this chain of thinkers and makers IDEAS has created. All of these young people really are making a difference in the world.

Special Thanks to Amalia Rincon-Frias, UW-Sheboygan: Ana Gottsacker, UW-Sheboygan; Cheyanne Rieley, Edgewood College; Jacob Olmedo, Parsons The New School for Design; James Massey, Culinary Arts LTC; Kyle Whelton, Marquette University; and Noah Fenner, MATC, for sharing their experiences with us!!


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