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AlumKnights: What it means to be an alum

Feb 19 • AlumKnights, Features • 537

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What’s it like to be a Gannon University alumnus? At first it didn’t feel like much, to be honest.

After graduating in 1988, I was preoccupied with other things: trying to find a job, thinking about where I wanted to live and if I wanted to continue on to grad school. Ultimately I chose to return home to Rochester, N.Y., and enter the workforce, getting a job in the mental health field with my BA in psych.

I came back to Gannon only a couple of times after graduation to hang out with friends to relive my college days. Several years passed with no contact with Gannon, though I maintained close friendships with those I met there.

Then in 2006, I was asked if I wanted to be part of the National Alumni Board (NAB).  Actually it was more like being drafted by a former classmate, Dana (Kennedy) Fallon ’91. At first I thought it would be about fundraising and wasn’t interested. I was wrong; that is not the board’s primary function. Instead I saw the NAB’s work up close and liked what I saw.

The NAB works hard to find ways to stay connected to alumni around the country – and world – by organizing regional social events, maintaining outreach to alumni on the Internet, establishing scholarship funds for current students and much more.

The NAB has some of the most amazing, dedicated people I’ve ever met, no joke. Last fall I participated in a Gannon GIVE Day in Rochester. Three fellow alumni and I helped out at the Volunteers of America. These alumni graduated in the 1960s and they still remember Gannon fondly, helping support the institution whenever they can. Fantastic!

As a member of the NAB, I was afforded the opportunity to meet some truly amazing people, including the professional staff, fellow board members and current students. During Homecoming Reunion Weekend 2008, I met several seniors who were, shall I say, amusing.

At first I couldn’t figure out why a bunch of 22-year-olds would want to hang out with someone who could technically be their father. Their response surprised me: “We love alumni!” Friendships grew, and we now meet up in Erie every chance we get.

This past year I contacted two friends from my class, Laurie and Linda, and organized a trip to Erie. We hadn’t seen each other in 25 years, but it was like we had never been apart. We picked up right where our friendship ended after graduation without missing a beat.

They hadn’t been back to Gannon since graduation and were amazed with all the changes on campus like the new student housing and Waldron Campus Center. We didn’t have those during our time at Gannon – our student union was in a basement! We all agreed that the current students are spoiled, in a good way.

And of course we visited our old haunts, remembering the times when we didn’t have a care in the world except where to go for happy hour. We laughed so much that weekend and had such a great time that we decided to make an annual trip to stay connected with each other and the school.

So what’s it like to be alumni of Gannon now? Proud comes to mind. But most of all I cherish the people I met, the friendships that nourish me and keep me connected to a university that was vital to my personal and professional wellbeing. And though I’m no longer on the NAB, I will continue to support Gannon whenever I can.

Enjoy your time at Gannon, students!

 

JOHN M. ACETO

gannonalumni@gannon.edu

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