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Alumni offer students advice at Shaping Your Vision networking event

By Marilyn Hernandez-Stopp '14 on October 1, 2013
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Vonzelle Johnson '07, speaks with students attending the first Shaping Your Vision networking event during homecoming.

Vonzelle Johnson ’07 speaks with students attending a Shaping Your Vision networking event during homecoming. (Photo by Duy Trinh ’14)

Beyond the football, fireworks, and bonfire of homecoming weekend, many alumni returning to campus also helped with networking events, including an improved and expanded Shaping Your Vision career workshop.

Shaping Your Vision is as an opportunity for students to establish career connections with alumni visiting campus from all walks of life. The workshop was the result of collaboration between Alumni Relations, Career Services, Alumni of Color, and the ALANA Cultural Center.

A special “speed information” session was held for students to talk with the 28 participating alumni with career experience in communications, health care, nonprofits, real estate, education, and business services. Students could also talk with former students who now work at Colgate, and with students who continued to graduate school.

“Alumni have been crucial, from events like these to just running into someone wearing a Colgate hoodie,” said Andrea Finley ’13, who went on to work for Colgate’s Office of Residential Life.  “Our relationships with alumni are essential to our relationship with the institution as a whole.”

Vonzelle Johnson ’07, DeLand city commissioner and chair of the Volusia County Democratic Executive Committee in Florida, delivered the keynote speech.

Johnson spoke of the formative experience he had at Colgate, and how the relationships he developed here helped him make decisions about his future.

“When we ran for [political] office, we had no idea what we were doing. But I did know one thing—that I went to Colgate University, and that by the time I graduated, I knew the most important people that I needed to know,” Johnson said.

The event provided students helpful tips and information about networking and staying connected after the event.

Johnson emphasized that the relationship between student and alumni should be a mutual one.

“Don’t call on someone just when you need something,” he advised. “Make sure to offer your services.”

Students who attended took advantage of the opportunity to chat and network with prominent alumni.

“I like hearing their experience, and if they have any advice,” said Carolina Batista ’17, adding that the stories told by alumni might not seem like advice at first, but often contain valuable wisdom within.

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