Engaging with alumni, especially those who are less involved with the university, is one of the priorities of the Alumni, Career and Corporate Engagement unit, which was created in 2021 by combining those services into one department.
Research shows that alumni who are Black, Indigenous or people of color (BIPOC), and those who are gay, transgender or queer connect less frequently with St. Thomas.
“Perhaps they felt ignored and perhaps it was from past injustices,” said Lilly Mokamba, alumni program manager. “We aim to make St. Thomas a better experience for those who are BIPOC, and people who identify as LGBTQIA+.”
Just as the university has student and employee affinity groups where people with a common identity can build relationships and share in fellowship, Mokamba is leading the creation of affinity groups for alumni. In May, an alumni LBGTQIA+ group convened for the first time, and plans are in development for the 2023-24 academic year to start a group or groups with those who share a racial or ethnic identity. Further out in the planning pipeline is creating an affinity group for young alumni.
“This is not advocacy,” Mokamba said. “Affinity groups are where people who shared lived experiences can express themselves freely, share their experiences together and build deeper bonds that can benefit them on their life journey.”
In the same way that undergraduate and graduate alumni connect around their career paths, affinity groups will serve as important opportunities for networking and mentorship.
“As we broaden our cultural awareness and become more intentional with creating an improved welcoming culture in and around St. Thomas, we hope more of our alumni will choose to engage with each other through university networking opportunities,” Mokamba said. “Being actively engaged through the Tommie Network can open many doors, and we care about the continued success of our graduates long after they have marched out of the Arches,” she said.