In honor of our newest graduates — the Class of 2016 — I invited the outgoing and incoming presidents of Columbia College Young Alumni, Zila Acosta-Grimes ’11, LAW’15 and Gairy Hall ’11, BUS’16, respectively, to be guest columnists. — Douglas R. Wolf ’88
As we celebrate the Class of 2016, think back to your own graduation and what it felt like to leave Columbia after a life-changing experience. At an alumni event in early May, some of these newest alumni — still seniors then — expressed how they were feeling about their upcoming graduation. We’re sure you’ll be able to relate to a few of these responses!
“I’m excited! … But nervous.”
“I’m not ready to leave yet.” “I’m really ready to leave.”
“I’m really going to miss my friends. And the waffles.”
“I can’t wait. I want to see what the world holds for me.”
We have all felt the emotional tumult and uncertainty of leaving the safe, familiar nest of Columbia College to go out into “the real world,” where we no longer would have teachers and advisers to guide us, or the somewhat-straightforward responsibility of learning and proving what was learned. Many prior generations of alumni ventured toward their futures without a well-established alumni network or other alumni resources to ease that transition. Their subsequent feedback helped the College realize it could provide a different type of support and guidance during this period of change that would help ease that anxiety and sustain this newest group of Columbians for at least a bit longer. And so, Columbia College Young Alumni was born.
We are proud that CCYA has existed for more than 15 years. For those not familiar with CCYA, it is the programming and engagement arm of the Columbia College Alumni Association (CCAA) for graduates of the last 10 years. CCYA focuses on helping our global community of young alumni flourish through career-oriented networking, professional workshops, athletic and social events, community service and opportunities to engage with alumni from all class years.
It’s hard for us to believe that CCYA has existed for not even two decades. That alone makes this community’s accomplishments even more impressive. CCYA has become an active and robust group, expanding from five dedicated alumni founders to a vibrant board of more than 30 members with more than 40 volunteers across the country. CCYA has become a way for young alumni to stay connected to the College and to develop leadership skills. We also have taken a more active role in the CCAA to ensure that the voice of young alumni is present in this broader alumni community, which sets the long-term vision and trajectory for the College’s community of almost 50,000 alumni.
CCYA is a connector. We have grown in leaps and bounds and are poised to have an even greater impact on the alumni community during the next few years. In addition to current programming, we are increasing our emphasis on bridging the gap between students and alumni as well as between young alumni and those from older classes. Never before has it been so fruitful — and necessary — for alumni leaders to have open forums for conversation and opportunities to share ideas, teach and learn skills, and discuss plans. Pairing young alumni, as active members of the technology era, with the wisdom, business acumen, intelligence and connections of more experienced alumni benefits both groups by fostering an open exchange of ideas that can advance CCYA and CCAA’s shared goal of providing value and meaningful experiences to all alumni.
We invite you to engage with CCYA. Help us build an even stronger community of lifelong Columbians who will inspire, support, guide and learn from one another with a focus on welcoming new graduates and younger alumni into the community. Check out college.columbia.edu/alumni/serve/ccya, and Like and follow us on facebook.com/ccyoungalumni to learn about upcoming events.
Roar, Lion, Roar!
Published quarterly by the Columbia College Office of Alumni Affairs and Development for alumni, students, faculty, parents and friends of Columbia College.