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St. Thomas Students Embrace Power of Tommie Network

Higher education provides students many opportunities for connections to resources, professors, peers and thought leadership. Enrolling at the University of St. Thomas opens a student’s world even further, connecting them with a network of Tommies who once walked the same halls and lounged on the same quad. These Tommie alumni have the wisdom that comes with real-world professional trials and triumphs and they are ready to share their insights through the power of the Tommie Network.

Computer science major Kaila Alfaro ’26 built relationships with alumni and current students while attending a St. Thomas-sponsored career trek to San Francisco.

“My favorite part of this trip was the connections I made with St. Thomas alumni and my peers,” she said. “We bonded around our goals and career aspirations before leaving for the trip. Once we were there, the alumni helped us see that those ambitions can be a reality.”

Tommie Network in San Francisco
St. Thomas students network with alumni in San Francisco.

The rich and diverse experiences of alumni are the perfect catalysts for meaningful mentorship connections with current Tommies. That’s why the St. Thomas Career Development Center organizes career treks to give students access to life in different parts of the country, expanding their horizons and allowing them to reflect on what is different from what they see in Minnesota. This equips them with options and mentor connections to help them along their career paths.

Two earnest groups of St. Thomas students hopped on planes for Career Treks in Chicago (business-focused) and San Francisco (STEM-focused) during the university's spring break. While on the treks, students visited corporations, learned about potential career paths and sought one-on-one advice from alumni. Hosting companies included PwC, BMO Harris, EY and Lockton in Chicago and Scotia Bank, Google and Apple in San Francisco.

Tommie Network in Chicago-Lockton

Employer visits allowed students to step out of the classroom into different workplaces and geographic and professional cultures.

“All visits were awesome experiences to get to know more about work environments in big tech companies,” said Felipe Seronatto ’25, a mechanical engineering major who participated in the San Francisco trek. “I learned about work agendas, routines, habits and physical spaces.”

Chicago Career Trek participant Roystter A. Silva ‘26, a leadership and management and computer science major, said, “With these treks, St. Thomas is encouraging us to step out of our comfort zone and really live in the corporate world, which helps us build on the idea of who we want to be in the future and how to accomplish it.”

Career Treks also expose students to several high impact career practices, which support alumni success in their first role after graduation and also five to 10 years later in their careers. Practices covered by treks include understanding career opportunities, networking with employers, having a career-related experience, connecting with alumni and receiving helpful career advice.

The Career Development Center thoughtfully planned every detail for both treks, first holding an application process for prospective student participants, and then offering multiple preparatory learning sessions for students so they would be ready with resumes, personal elevator pitches and questions to support their information gathering. Career educators wanted to ensure that students found value in every site visit, seeing the on-ramp to possible career paths and the scope and value of the Tommie Network.

Maria Magambo ’26, a computer science major noted, “I never knew how Tommies could be so influential until I went on this trek. The talks I had and advice I received are fixed in my mind and will forever help me in moving forward to achieve my goals.”

In the wake of a successful inaugural Career Trek in Chicago in 2023, the Career Development Center expanded offerings to two cities this year. “When identifying markets to visit, we consider the size of our alumni base, existing recruiting relationships with organizations and access to possible employers to visit,” said Career Development Center Director Mark Sorenson-Wagner.

Students also connected with alumni during Tommies On the Road events held in conjunction with the Career Treks. It was amazing to see generations of Tommies connect over the strong bond that comes with being a part of the Tommie Network.

CareerTrek Chicago

Prior to the Tommies On the Road: San Francisco gathering, Career Trek students interacted with a panel of alumni from Innovative Systems, Future Bright and Gallagher Development Services and then continued conversations during the following reception.

Computer science major, Nimo Hassan ’26 noted, “I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the alumni networking reception. It was inspiring to see the accomplishments of alumni from recent graduates to those many years out. Hearing about their challenges and successes helped me better connect and relate to them, strengthening my belief in the Tommie network.”

Mentoring Opportunities Through St. Thomas Connect

Mentorship is not restricted to in-person opportunities like Career Trek. Alumni can mentor current Tommies year-round through the St. Thomas Connect platform. St. Thomas Connect is an exclusive online community for all Tommies to engage with each other across disciplines, generations and geography. Through the tool, alumni and students can explore career paths that match their interests, network with other alumni and mentor current Tommies.

Tommie Network

The platform even provides a Mentorship Playbook that offers suggestions on topics to discuss during mentoring sessions, as well as possible activities related to specific topics such as identifying strengths and weaknesses, conducting informational interviews and investigating different career paths.

Political Science major, Jacey Zadlo ’25 found St. Thomas Connect to be a place to comfortably connect with her alumna mentor, Ashley Bailey-Chang ’12. “For me, the value that was brought to my student experience from connecting with a former Tommie was knowing I wasn’t alone,” Zadlo said. “Ashley is a real person to talk to, and after meeting her, I felt as if I was no longer lost. As a first-generation college student who plans to apply to law school, I found reassurance in having someone willing to answer all my questions. Additionally, by learning about Ashley’s experiences, I’ve learned how a person’s path can look.”

It was inspiring to see the accomplishments of alumni."

Nimo Hassan ’26

The learning is not one-sided. Bailey-Chang noted: “Serving as Jacey’s mentor reminded me of the resilience and tenacity of St. Thomas students. Jacey’s commitment to her future, her loved ones, and her community are inspiring and I was blown away by her maturity.”

Janine Braman ’86 mentored Ava Breault ’26 and found that though there have been many changes at St. Thomas over the years, alumni and current students still have a unique and shared experience as Tommies. Braman said, “It is exciting and energizing to interact with current students. St. Thomas continues to celebrate both the traditions of the past as well as the growth and change of the present.”

Working through St. Thomas Connect quelled Breault’s fears of beginning networking. “Janine helped me feel comfortable about putting myself out there. This can be really scary, but I have been able to make so many connections and have a lot of fun just by connecting with alumni,” she said.

The value of a supported community grows exponentially through mentorship, and St. Thomas cultivates these efforts by fostering connections.

CareerTtrek San Francisco Salesforce

Bailey-Chang said, “Very few of us find success, reach our goals and find our calling alone. It is typically the result of a community and individuals who have offered wisdom, guidance, opportunities and support that allow us to reach our full potential. Mentoring a current St. Thomas student not only demonstrates the commitment our community has to fostering the development of and creating future leaders, but it also plants the seeds for current students to want to give back and be active members of our alumni community.”

Hapaki Quintana ’26 appreciates the Tommie network. “I would love to connect with more alumni. They are literally the best resource that St. Thomas has.”

If you are interested in connecting with other alumni and/or mentoring a current Tommie, sign up on St. Thomas Connect. Link: St. Thomas Connect (