The lessons learned at Illinois State University extend past the classroom.
From engaging in community service on an Alternative Breaks trip to providing a welcoming environment for all students as a Resident Assistant (RA), opportunities provided through the Division of Student Affairs shape who students are as alumni. Now, after graduation, many alumni look for ways to give back to Illinois State in terms of their time and talents by volunteering.
Two such alumni are Jen Jaroch ’15 and Adam Hucek ’12. Through the new Division of Student Affairs Alumni and Friends website, alumni can now find out how to stay involved and give back to areas they were passionate about as students, and still are today.
“The leadership roles that I had, such as being a Resident Assistant and an Admissions Ambassador, shaped the worker and leader that I am today,” said Jaroch.
As a student Jaroch was a student leader working in the Admissions office, serving as an RA, providing mentorship to Registered Student Organization leaders, and much more. Now as a teacher at Bloomington High School, Jaroch is excited to give back her time to an institution that gave her so much.
Jaroch recently spoke at the University Housing RA Convocation, inspiring a new group of RAs to make an impact while they are on campus.
“College is one of the most influential times in which students are trying to figure out who they are and who they are going to be in the world,” Jaroch said. “I love being able to take what I learned from my experiences as a student and use it to help build up and inspire a new generation of leaders.”
As a recent graduate Jaroch understands how important it is to be a mentor to current students. She shares that “recent graduates can have an especially influential role by being an example for students who are wondering what their lives might look like in just a few years.” Acting as a mentor and speaking to current students is Jaroch’s way of giving back to the University and she hopes other young alumni join her to help inspire and motivate current students.
Jaroch knows her influence will reach past Illinois State’s campus too.
“I view my involvement in the university as a chance to influence the lives of the future leaders of our organizations, businesses, schools, and communities,” she said.
Passion for Alternative Breaks
Hucek’s story is a lot like Jaroch’s. He may no longer be a student, but Hucek did not lose his passion for Alternative Breaks when he walked across the stage in Redbird Arena in 2012.
As a student he was involved in Alternative Breaks (AB) for the majority of his time on campus. The mission of Alternative Breaks is to challenge Illinois State students to become involved leaders in cultural and social awareness through education, strong direct service, and reflection. From a participant on numerous AB trips to serving as student director of the program, Hucek knew he was making a difference in communities across the world with each trip. He wanted to continue to make a difference through AB after graduating.
Hucek continued to stay in touch with his mentors in Leadership and Community Connections, a unit of the Dean of Students, and when the 15th anniversary of Alternative Breaks came in 2015, Hucek was the first to volunteer his time, talents, and treasures to the cause. From helping reach out to fellow alumni to encourage them to support the Alternative Breaks Support Fund to greeting fellow alumni at the Homecoming AB tent, Hucek worked hard to raise funds so that no student would miss the opportunity to participate in an AB trip due to financial constraints.
“It is important to help a program that made such a large impact during my time at ISU,” Hucek said. “This program means so much to so many and if I can give my time to see it grow and prosper, I know it will impact future students.”
There are many other alumni stories similar to Jaroch’s and Hucek’s—students who found a passion while at ISU and wanted to continue to volunteer as alumni.
But where do you find these opportunities as alumni? The newly created Student Affairs Alumni and Friends webpage is the answer! Find out about the new and longstanding initiatives to connect with alumni, students, and friends across the Division of Student Affairs.
“Illinois State has impacted and guided each alumni to where they are today, and it’s important that we share our talents with others that can use our time and abilities,” Hucek said.
From serving on a panel sharing your experiences as an involved student to serving as a mentor for a current student to volunteering your time at our PAWSitively Stress Free events, the opportunities are endless. Take the time to look over the current needs of each department or contact Anna Knepler, assistant director of Annual Giving and Alumni Engagement, at (309) 438-5451, if you have an idea about you can give back of your time and talents to Illinois State University.