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June 16, 2024

Young Alumni Weekend draws recent graduates

By AMANDA AUBLE | October 10, 2013

Alumni from the classes of 2010 to 2013 returned to the Homewood campus this past weekend to attend the annual Young Alumni Weekend (YAW) organized by the Office of Alumni Relations. The event schedule offered opportunities for alumni to enjoy themselves while reconnecting with the Hopkins community.

Since its start in 2006, YAW’s goal has been to provide an informal environment at an affordable cost for recent Hopkins graduates to return to campus and catch up with one another. As the program developed, it also began encouraging current undergraduates to meet with alumni and become more involved in the global Hopkins network.

On the list of YAW’s special events was the Bridge 5 Brunch. Held on Saturday morning, the brunch provided current students in the junior, sophomore and freshmen classes with the chance to ask for advice from recent graduates. Free refreshments were provided for all registered participants of this semi-formal social event.

Each year, the Bridge 5 program pairs freshmen with Hopkins alumni who graduated five years ahead of them. The purpose of this mentorship is to bridge the gap between alumni and current students and to foster lasting relationships.

“These are alumni who have had one year out in the real world, so to speak. They really have a lot to offer, and they still can relate really well to the incoming freshmen,” Associate Director of Regional Communities in the Office of Alumni Relations Shaun T. Grahe said. “So it’s providing them with resources. Someone to talk to about great places to study, classes that they really enjoyed, ways to get involved.”

The program is designed to mature this relationship over time. As the needs of the freshmen class change, the experience and guidance of the alumni mentors advance simultaneously.

“Essentially, when [current students] are graduating, the graduates have been out of Hopkins for five years at that point, ” Grahe said. “So, they are either finishing up with med school, law school, grad school. They’ve been in a career for five years. They have a lot to offer.”

The mentors at the brunch also benefit from the relationship, as they maintain a connection to the Hopkins community.

“I think it’s great because it forms a permanent connection between the current student body and the alumni community,” Synteche Ribeire, who helped create the Bridge 5 program and now serves as a class of 2012 mentor, said.

The brunch served as a welcome for the new Bridge 5 pairing of classes 2012 and 2017.

“I think that whenever you get a chance to get advice, you should take it,” freshman Allie Diel said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Other events on YAW’s agenda provided a relaxed environment for the recent graduates to mingle and reconnect.

Among these was the Young Alumni tent party held Saturday night from 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. on the Bloomberg courtyard.  Promising excitement for both alumni and current students over 21, the party attracted around 1,500 people, according to the Office of Alumni Relations.

“I went to the tent last year, and it’s always a fun time,” J.J. Braddock, who graduated in 2013, said. “It’s really nice to just pack everybody in at one place because it makes sure that you meet everybody that came back.”

As the long line to enter the tent grew, Hopkins alumni reflected on their return.

“It’s nice being here without all the stress,” Chris Ballack, who graduated in 2013, said. “Like watching people go to the library. I don’t miss that part of it.”

The party did not only offer a fun night for alumni; current Hopkins students also enjoyed the opportunity to see old friends.

“I think this year we’ve all missed the most recent class, the 13’s. It’ll be awesome to see them and be like ‘Hey, what have you up to?’” junior Raquel Stratton said before the event.

The end of the tent party concluded the weekend.

“Overall, I’ve really enjoyed what they’ve done. I think it’s really well put together — the transportation and how everything was run down there. You can tell the Office put a lot of work into it,” Braddock said.

According to Homewood Reunion Program Coordinator Etza Flamhoz, the effects of a program like YAW include increased school pride, greater alumni involvement, and more positive associations with Hopkins among the attendees.

In the future, the Office of Alumni Relations hopes to find a bigger space to accommodate the growing number of young alumni.

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