Editor’s note: TommieMedia is taking a deeper look this week into how each of the Big Five organizations (USG, SAC, STAR, RHA and HANA) operate. Monday delves into USG and the student activity fee, Tuesday will give insight into SAC, Wednesday explains more about STAR, Thursday goes inside RHA and the series will end Friday with a look into Hana.
While Student Alumni Council’s name suggests it may not apply to current students, one of SAC’s main goals is to link students with alumni through alumni-student mentoring programs.
“I think the trickiest part about that is that people hear [the name] and they think, ‘Oh I’m not alumni yet. This doesn’t pertain to me. It doesn’t really matter,’” said senior Sara Hamrick, Student Alumni Council president.
Hamrick said that getting students to overcome the misconceptions of the name is difficult. But she said the council’s goal this year is to promote the group and get its name out there to help students understand what it is, she said.
SAC is different from most other clubs and organizations at St. Thomas as the Undergraduate Student Government does not give the council any funding. SAC is completely funded by the Alumni Association and were unable to disclose information on the amount of money spent on events.
Students can be members of SAC or take advantage of the programming it provides from freshman through senior year. The alumni-student mentoring program is a way for students to connect with St. Thomas alumni in their field of study. Whether it be over lunch, coffee or just e-mail, students learn from mentors about their time at St. Thomas and how they got to where they are now.
Mary Phelan, vice president of internal affairs for SAC, joined the program last year as a sophomore. She said that SAC spreads more by word-of-mouth than anything else because there is not a lot of advertising about joining the organization. As a result, having freshman and sophomores in SAC is rare. Phelan was one of only five sophomores last year.
Phelan said SAC is important to St. Thomas.
SAC builds St. Thomas community
“St. Thomas isn’t only a place for education,” Phelan said. “It’s a place to build community, and that can’t happen without the people who have been here before.”
Senior Amy Anderson, co-chair of the alumni-student mentoring program and Take a Tommie to Lunch, said the program is great for students and alumni.
“I think it’s a really great way for the alumni to stay connected to current students and help out the students in the their field … and make sure they’re still part of the St. Thomas community whether they graduated five years ago or 30 years ago,” Anderson said.
Along with the alumni-student mentoring program, SAC does several other large programs throughout the year. Events include Taste of Saints, the senior banquet and the spring and fall community clean-ups. Alumni reflections was added to the list this year.
There are two community aspects of SAC, according to Hamrick. Members work to better the St. Thomas community, and they reach out to the alumni community.
“Taste of Saints, that’s one of our biggest events, and that’s for students to just interact with one another,” Hamrick said. “Then we do the community service, like the community cleanup aspect. So that’s really getting all the students involved and really recognizing their call to service and just interacting with one another that way.”
SAC consists of about 60 students, which form three committees. One committee takes care of Taste of Saints and the senior banquet, another one helps organize the community cleanups and alumni reflections and the last committee takes care of alumni-student mentoring and Take a Tommie to Lunch.
Taste of Saints a SAC highlight
The Taste of Saints takes place every year at homecoming time.
“It’s a tag team effort [between SAC and the alumni association], but the students are primarily the go-to people,” Hamrick said. “There are two girls that run the entire event. They actually figure out what clubs and [organizations] are going to participate and run their own activities there.”
Hamrick said it’s a huge job, but it’s a great experience and a challenge for those who run it.
Alumni reflections is a new program that SAC introduced this year.
“One [alumni] will come in and talk about their faith and how their faith has really driven what they’re doing now,” Hamrick said of the program. “Maybe something happened 10 years after they graduated where maybe they fell off or something. It’s really about that journey for them between the link between college and their career.”
What separates SAC from other Big Five organizations
Unlike the other Big Five organizations, SAC executive board members are unpaid.
“We strictly give our time, passion, dedication, and happiness for the betterment of the [organization],” Hamrick said.
Another difference from most clubs and organizations is that not everyone who seeks to be a part of SAC will get to become a member. There is an interviewing process for its members and the board can turn people away if it sees fit.
“It’s not just a free-for-all,” Hamrick said. “It drives more of the passion part and people really, really wanting to be a part of it.”
Anderson said that being a part of the program means that when she is an alumna she will be aware of the program and will want to get involved and look forward to it.
For current members of SAC, Hamrick hopes that they will go on to do for future students what alumni are doing for them now.
“We’re all going to be out of here someday and if we have an awesome time here we should tell people what we did and the experience that we had and everything we got involved in because in some way it’s going to make a difference for some student,” she said.
Stephani Bloomquist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org