Above and Beyond
I've often talked about how gifts of time are important, and how being a volunteer can make an impact.
In Mark Dorgan's article in this same issue of The Link, you'll read about a group of volunteers--the Alumni Advisory Board--and how their gifts have impacted the School of Computer Science. As the board nears its 10th anniversary, I'd like to share just a few thoughts about what this dedicated alumni group has meant to me.
Our first meeting was in October 2001. I remember it well. There were only 12 members of what was then called the Young Alumni Advisory Council, and we gathered in the lower level (fondly remembered as "the basement" of the Sheraton Palo Alto. Essentially, we were launching a "start-up" (familiar territory for many in the room). The board was created as part of a new effort to build a school-wide alumni relations program--a job I was hired for in March 2000.
By the spring meeting, a name change was in the works. The group's acronym--YAAC--was a source of lively discussions (there was a reference to "Mr. Yuk" at one point). We renamed the group the "Alumni Advisory Board," and we laid out our goals and mission: we would work on initiatives to help us strengthen the valuable relationships between the school, its students and alumni.
Today, there are 26 members of the board. Although each member officially serves one three-year term, most stay on for several more years. In fact, six of the founding members remain on the board today, and nearly all the student representatives ask to stay on after graduation.
Through the years, this group has generously shared ideas, expertise, wisdom, successes and failures. Their work is always done with energy and enthusiasm, but even more importantly with a sense of humor.
They serve as SCS's greatest ambassadors, champions and cheerleaders to the world at large. They've dedicated countless hours to helping various outreach initiatives; many have been successful, and a few weren't quite so. Those are the growing pains of a start-up. Time after time, they come back and ask, "How can we help?" And believe me, they are not shy about voicing their opinions when given a chance.
To all my AAB members, thank you for your extraordinary dedication, continued support and insight provided through the years. It's a privilege to work with you. My job certainly would not be as rewarding without your generous gift of time, energy and enthusiasm.
Jason Togyer | 412-268-8721 | jt3y [atsymbol] cs.cmu.edu