The Office of Alumni Relations, Reunion & Homecoming hosted its annual Young Alumni Weekend (YAW) from Sept. 28 to 30. The event, which included various festivities, attracted young alumni from across the country and allowed recent graduates from the University a chance to come back and visit the Homewood Campus.
Students who have graduated but are yet to attend their first official reunion were invited to this event, including students from the class of 2014 through 2018. In an email to The News-Letter, Pat Conklin, senior associate director of the Homewood Reunion Program, wrote that over 2,700 young alumni attended this event.
“It was a wonderful time for the alumni to reconnect with their friends, classmates and school,” Conklin wrote.
Su Ataman, who graduated in the spring of 2018, wrote in an email to The News-Letter that YAW provided her with an opportunity to catch up with fellow students.
“I’m not from the area, so I don’t visit Hopkins except during events,” she wrote. “I went to YAW to see friends who still go to Hopkins and catch up with visiting friends who also graduated.”
This year, the first event of the weekend was at Power Plant Live!, a local nightclub. The next day, alumni were invited to Port Covington to tour and experience the Sagamore Spirit Distillery. Later in the day, many alumni attended a football game.
On Sunday night, many students including Ataman attended the biannual Tent Party, which attracted many young alumni as well as undergraduate students. According to Conklin, a record-breaking number of students attended Tent Party.
“I didn’t attend any of the YAW events except Tent Party, but it was definitely a favorite,” Ataman wrote.
This was also the only event that Class of 2018 alumna Lilly Barany attended. In an email to The News-Letter, she wrote that she came to YAW because she wanted the opportunity to come back to visit old friends.
“It’s a chance for all of my friends to convene back in Baltimore, a city we love,” she wrote.
Other recent alumni, including Adelaide Morphett, class of 2017, agreed that this weekend provided graduates a chance to see other Hopkins students and reconnect with Baltimore.
“I chose to attend Young Alumni Weekend to take advantage of the opportunity to see close friends from undergrad whom I don’t get to see on a regular basis,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Plus, I love having an excuse to visit Baltimore.”
Morphett elaborated that it was also an important event to attend, because aside from visiting current Hopkins students, YAW would help ensure a greater Hopkins alumni community after college.
“It is important to foster the tradition of Young Alumni Weekend because it is integral in fortifying a strong relationship both with the school and the community beginning the first few years away from Homewood,” she wrote.
Ataman agreed, adding that the weekend was an important way to positively reshape alumni’s relationships with one another.
“It’s important because it helps instill a sense of camaraderie among the recently graduated. While people are obviously able to visit whenever they wish, having a designated time/place for young alumni encourages involvement and personally makes me feel more included and valued on campus,” she wrote.
Conklin wrote that YAW allowed students to immediately engage with the University after their graduation, without having to wait for five-year reunions.
“YAW continues to build on the alums’ undergraduate foundation by offering a variety of on and off campus experiences. Our aim is to continue to strengthen the young alumni connection and provide opportunities through relationships, events and people,” she wrote.
Barany wrote that one way the association could potentially increase attendance would be to assist in organizing transportation, especially in concentrated cities with a lot of young alumni.
“The organization could potentially provide discounted train tickets or organize buses from New York,” she wrote.
Ataman also suggested that it would be helpful for graduated students if the Young Alumni Association helped them find transportation to the event, especially if they moved to cities far from Baltimore. She added that extra advertising could also help bring more alumni to the weekend event.
“Some of the barriers deterring people from visiting come from travel expenses. Not sure if it’s possible, but if the association were able to pair up with specific airlines/trains/ride services and provide discounts for visiting alum, that may provide an incentive,” she wrote. “YAW is less advertised than the Alumni Weekend in April, so it’s possible that some people were even unaware it was happening.”
Morphett added that the organization could offer more casual events, which would allow young alum to reconnect with staff as well as students.