Illinois State alumni networks have always offered graduates the chance to stay connected with campus and each other. Now a new alumni network is forming that will bridge time and distance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally (LGBTA) alumni.
The new LGBTA Alumni Network is the brainstorm of several faculty and staff, including Dave Bentlin of the Division of Student Affairs and Barb Dallinger of the Bone Student Center. “Barb and I have been at Illinois State for several years as staff members, and before that as students,” said Bentlin. “We’ve had the benefit of witnessing many, many LGBTA students attend and graduate from Illinois State. These alums kept in touch informally, and we decided that the time was right to formalize a network for this group.”
The new network will provide opportunities for a diverse array of alumni to exchange ideas and encourage one another. “Many alumni are looking for ways to mentor and support today’s generation of LGBTA students,” said Bentlin. “The alumni network will help fulfill these desires and benefit everyone involved.”
Dallinger noted the goal of the network is to build connections beyond the four years an alum attends Illinois State. “There is a cross-generational link that happens with a network,” she said. A former advisor for the student organization ISU PRIDE, Dallinger laughed that she was already creating those links accidentally. “PRIDE alumni tease me that I confuse years and give them updates on members who weren’t in the organization at the same time. Which is true!” she said. “But it’s also led to some great connections bridging different years, increasing growth and outreach.”
According to Alumni Relations Director Jamie Sennett, just because the group is new, does not mean those involved are strangers. “While this group is just officially getting started, many of them have been connecting informally for years,” said Sennett, who is guiding the formation of the network. “Alumni Relations is excited to offer a formal way for this dynamic group of alumni to stay engaged and connected with ISU and each other.”