When starting their first year at Illinois State, many students could never have imagined that their campus job, a service trip they led, or late night program they planned would be one of the highlights of their Illinois State experience.
Many students give their time and talents to the Division of Student Affairs, and to express its appreciation the division recognizes their contributions and welcomes them into the Student Affairs alumni family at the Student Affairs Graduation Celebration each year.
The second annual Graduation Celebration took place May 3, celebrating over 100 graduating student leaders.
“We’re honored to recognize and celebrate students who serve and lead their peers as a student leader or employee within the division, as well as aid in their transition from student to alumni,” said Erin Thomas, director of assessment and engagement initiatives for Student Affairs.
The highlights of the evening included special reflections from Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Levester Johnson, student speaker Breanna Brown ’17, and alumni speaker Alexandra Szajowski ’14.
Students and staff enjoyed the time to reflect on the relationships they have formed and how they hope to stay connected after graduation.
“I enjoyed the evening interacting with students who had worked for EMDH,” said Dianne Feasley, associate director of Event Management, Dining and Hospitality. “The students appreciated the recognition of their contributions to Student Affairs and were already making their Homecoming plans to come back to campus.”
Each year an alum is asked to come back to campus to share their experiences as a student and alumni. This year, Szajowski encouraged students to reflect on their experiences and their new role as alumni. She shared that “giving a speech to students about to graduate gave me a chance to share how I was able to transfer my success as a student into the real world, working in my field and staying just as involved with commitments.”
“My experiences within Student Affairs let me wear many hats and play many roles; all of which molded my unique experience at ISU, as well as shape the person I am today,” Szajowski said. “I am so grateful and thankful to have Student Affairs and Illinois State to thank for laying the foundation to my accomplishments.”
Each student had their own story to share of how their experience with Student Affairs has enhanced their college career. Mark Hodges ’17 perfectly summarized the event stating, “My time with Student Affairs at ISU will never be forgotten. The Student Affairs Graduation Celebration was a great end to all of it, recalling many memories and experiences that I had during my 5 years at ISU.”
The Division of Student Affairs welcomes the class of 2017 into the alumni family and encourage all alumni to stay connected and tell us your Redbird story!