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Alumni Stories: Seeking New Members for Alumni Advisory Council

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By Melanie Conner, Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison, and featuring Lauren Crabtree, APU Graduate, Oluwaseyi Lawal, AMU Graduate, and Ross Patterson, AMU Graduate

At our University, we recognize that alumni are our legacy. Our alumni have wonderful ideas on how to increase the feeling of connection with their alma mater and are open to sharing feedback on university goals and initiatives.

The Alumni Advisory Council is one way to increase alumni engagement. Now in its fifth year, the Council continues its goals of forming partnerships with former students, collecting information about our alumni’s lives and career experiences, advising University leaders and encouraging our alumni to participate in community initiatives.

In 2020 and 2021, the Alumni Advisory Council worked on a number of projects and initiatives, including:

  • Promoting benefits and/or services available to our alumni community
  • Supporting a proposal for alumni discounts and scholarships
  • Participating in more virtual events and activities, including 2020 and 2021 virtual homecoming events
  • Updating and revitalizing the alumni public webpages
  • Supporting social media efforts, including getting more engagement and celebrating alumni achievements

Recently, our current Alumni Advisory Council officers shared some highlights of what they’re doing post-graduation and their experiences on the Council.

Lauren Crabtree, President

APU alumna Lauren Crabtree

Lauren completed both her bachelor’s and master’s in psychology from American Public University (APU), earning her master’s in 2018. After graduating from APU, she wanted to continue her studies, and Lauren is now pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology from Capella University. Once she completes her doctoral program, Lauren hopes to pursue a career in research, specifically as a quantitative research methodologist.

Lauren was drawn to the Alumni Advisory Council after identifying some ways that the University could improve on her own educational experience and how alumni could improve the current student experience. She joined the Council in 2018 and became the council’s first president in 2019.

Of her time on the Council, Lauren notes that while it can be a lot of work, it has been incredibly rewarding. She says that she thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to maintain a relationship with the University, and hopes to see the projects that the Council has worked on come to fruition, making her time on the Council well worth the effort.

Oluwaseyi (Olu) Lawal, Vice President

AMU alumnus Olu Lawal

Olu earned an associate degree in health sciences in 2018 and a bachelor’s degree in information technology management in 2021 from American Military University.  

Olu is a software engineer who develops, tests, integrates, deploys, troubleshoots, documents, and performs continuous improvement of pre-installed software applications. He has been in his job for over two years, and Olu observes that his degree from AMU helped to contribute to his achievements, leadership skills, and professional development.

Olu says that he was drawn to the Alumni Advisory Council because “The University played a huge part in my academic and career. The resources provided by the Alumni Advisory Council to ensure all students and graduates are successful in their careers attracted me to it.” He joined the Council in 2019, becoming the Council’s first vice president.

Olu notes that he has grown professionally and personally while serving on the Council. The Council has provided networking opportunities, mentorship, and resources to ensure the school, current students, and graduates are successful.

George (Ross) Patterson, Secretary

AMU alumnus Ross Patterson

George, who goes by his middle name of Ross, completed his bachelor’s in emergency and disaster management from AMU in 2009. He went on to earn a master’s in emergency and disaster management in 2019.

Ross is an emergency management coordinator, who coordinates and plans for emergency contingencies and actions with local agencies and organizations as well as state and federal partners to provide emergency services to the residents of the county, and he has been in the field for over 10 years. He notes that the knowledge he gained from his undergraduate and graduate degrees has added to his ability to be better informed and engaged in the emergency and disaster management field.

He notes that the knowledge he gained from his undergraduate and graduate degrees has added to his ability to be better informed and engaged in the emergency and disaster management field.

Ross joined the Alumni Advisory Council in 2019, becoming the council’s first secretary. Ross speaks highly of his time on the Council: “My experience has been wonderful. The ability to interact with other alumni as well as school leadership and departments has been fantastic. Also, our ability to guide the University in helping alumni be more engaged or come back for future education is rewarding.”

In 2021, the Alumni Advisory Council focused heavily on academics and programs, and Ross has enjoyed the ability to interact with University leadership. He says, “I would like to see this continue to a point that anytime there is a group discussion at the school level, it is automatic or normal to reach out to the Alumni Advisory Council for input or guidance.”

Who Can Join the Alumni Advisory Council?

All alumni are invited to join the Alumni Advisory Council. Up to five members from each school (such as the School of Arts, Humanities, and Education, the School of Security and Global Studies, and other University schools) will be admitted to the Council. For the 2022 council, we will also be accepting a new president, vice president and secretary.

The Council boasts a diverse environment, with alumni who come from various fields of study and different career backgrounds. Ross remarks, “The interaction with other members is very rewarding and interesting.”

A Need for Change

In order to grow as an alumni community and as an institution, we recognize that changes are often necessary. The Alumni Advisory Council motto for the past two years has been, “We listen to learn,” and we want to know what you would like to see as an alum.

Olu hopes that future councils will continue to uphold our traditions and work with the Office of Student and Alumni Affairs in advancing our University. Similarly, Lauren wants to see the Alumni Advisory Council continue its work with Academics. Ross agrees, saying that he would like to see a strengthened relationship between the Council and Academics.

Apply Now to Join the 2022 Council

Can you be the change that we need? Your role as an Alumni Advisory Council member helps shape our University’s development. You can give back in several ways, including:

  • Providing academic program feedback
  • Engaging with other alumni to be the voice of the alumni community
  • Participating in networking events

If you have a desire to meet fellow alumni and be active across the University, Ross says, “DO IT! This is your opportunity.” Lauren also says, “I loved my time as a student, and being on the Council has allowed me to maintain a relationship with the University that would not have otherwise been possible.”

Olu says, “The Council needs your experience and expertise to ensure that APU and AMU are successful.”

Nominations close on October 11th, so submit your nomination today!

Melanie Conner is a Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison. Having worked in higher education for over 10 years, Melanie enjoys cultivating relationships with students and alumni. She has undergraduate degrees in education from Germanna Community College and in sociology from the University of Mary Washington.

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