COVID-19 hasn’t stopped alumni from connecting with Keene State College.
Bethany Morin, a Keene State College alumna, is the current Director of Alumni Relations. She works to build bridges between alumni and the college through event attendance, volunteering, communications and philanthropy to support and foster alumni connections with the college.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how alumni relations look compared to previous years. Alumni Relations has partnered with other departments to continue the tradition of bingo nights and have planned virtual events that alumni can attend.
“I’ve been working with my colleagues and the Alumni Board of Directors and they have been fantastic about coming up with creative ways we can engage with alumni and not lose the community feeling that you get when you’re sitting in the DC together with someone. So we have been able to do a number of online events, online programs and stuff like that. People have been really stepping up and wanting to stay engaged, and in some ways, Zoom fatigue is real, but in other ways, alums getting together online is a fun way to end the day,” Morin stated.
Recently, Morin was able to engage alumni from across the country when she partnered with Jessica Bigaj, the stewardship coordinator, to put on “The Backstage Pass.” The event focused on Steve Cady, the Jazz Ensemble Director, and several students before their virtual concert. Alumni who would not have been able to attend in years past were able to tune in.
Morin said the department relied heavily on email in the past, but during the pandemic, they started a bi-weekly newsletter called “The Hoot.”
The newsletter shared success stories of alumni, news from the college, spotlights, and alerting them to upcoming events. Morin said over 18,000 alumni receive the newsletter and the response has been positive.
Younger alums have taken to volunteering and sitting on panels to help current students who may be considering graduate school or to help land their first job out of college, according to Morin.
“One of the silver linings with the pandemic, because we have moved into this more virtually accessible world, we have more and more opportunities for alumni to come back and support the institution, virtually. We have always had very strong alumni volunteers– everything from sitting on event committees to sitting on the alumni board or the Keene Endowment Association, things like that.” This spring I’ve really seen more and more alumni panels, alumni doing job interview prep or resume reviews. Because they don’t have to be in the classroom to do it, the breadth of experience and opportunities is incredible,” Morin said.
For students, Morin and the alumni department are partnering with Academic and Career Advising and Aspire for a “Career Speaker Series” this spring, featuring people who may not have been able to attend previously due to distance.
Morin wanted to thank the colleagues with whom she works closely every day.
“It’s not just me who is doing this. I work with an incredible team. Its alumni relations, development, advancement services, and even ceremonies and events… It’s not just a one-person effort to engage alumni,” Morin said.
Morin had a piece of parting advice for seniors: once an owl, always an owl.
“Your time with Keene State isn’t over, it’s just changing,” Morin stated.
Talee Messenger can be contacted at: