I have had the pleasure of meeting tens of thousands of University of Waterloo alumni over the years. The majority of them I meet the moment they become alumni as they walk across the stage at Convocation and we have a chance to chat for a moment about their time at Waterloo, what their future plans are and, yes, take a selfie or two.
New Waterloo alumni are filled with excitement and pride on that day and in my experience, they keep that energy alive and well for years and decades after they leave. We need that passion for change, that experience and all of the insights our alumni have to pass on. With that in mind, here are a few examples of how I see Waterloo’s alumni community as an integral part of our institution.
Our bridge to the world
Waterloo’s alumni community now includes more than 220,000 people who can be found in more than 150 countries and work in nearly every industry imaginable. That deep industry and global insights are something any university would envy and they have helped be our bridge to the world. I’ve been able to personally hear from our graduates the top trends happening on the ground in board rooms, offices and governments around the world.
What makes these interactions so important, isn’t simply the valuable insights, but that our alumni know how those trends impact and benefit Waterloo, its researchers and most importantly its students.
Connecting with students
What is so exciting as well is when alumni and students can come together under any circumstances and share their knowledge and experience with one another. Those connections are so very special and I’ve had the luck in seeing them at alumni events around the world when current students are also invited who are out on co-op or simply networking.
Seeing the connections build and opportunities flourish is extraordinary, and that combination of real-world experience and the development of our students can make all the difference. Not to mention the thousands of alumni who hire our students through co-op and/or new graduates. That network is a virtuous cycle that is only possible through a dynamic community of alumni and seeing it first-hand day-in and day-out has been wonderful.
Not to mention the tremendous contributions co-op students have on their employers. Co-op creates a pipeline of talented graduates that already provide to an organizations success long before they cross the stage at convocation.
Impact of a global community cannot be understated
Even as our world has been more apart than at any time in recent memory, our global network has kept us connected and together. Connecting with our global alumni chapters, our Alumni Council and chatting with alumni donors in Hong Kong, San Francisco and beyond has brought the world back home to Waterloo time and time again.
We have an alumni community with a shared experience that cannot be replicated, even if they did not attend Waterloo at the same time. You see it when you talk to an alumnus whether they graduated in 1960, 1990 or 2020. The tradition and legacy of our institution is infused within that community no matter where they are in the world after they depart the Waterloo campus. Whether I meet an alumnus who has started a new venture in India, rise up the ranks at a global financial firm or making a difference in their field, seeing that community act as 220,000 ambassadors of innovation, impact and positive change has been tremendous to witness.
This size and scope of impact doesn’t happen at every institution. It is only possible through a connected group of passionate individuals knowing that sharing and connecting together is more powerful than any one of us. I’ve seen what they are capable of doing together and I can’t wait to continue seeing it far into the future.