What's had three names, has over 9,000 potential members and is over 30 years old?
That would be Texas A&M International University's Alumni Association.
Steven Wright ('93), Association president, said the organization is looking forward to continuing to grow with the University and helping all former students to realize the importance of retaining ties with their alma mater, but admits it's a big challenge.
"This has been a challenge for the organization. By having changed names and identities a few times, some alumni may feel somewhat disenfranchised; nothing could be further from the truth. Texas A&M International University clearly embodies the spirit of its roots and has built on each as important foundations. All alumni are cherished, no matter whether their diplomas read Texas A&I University at Laredo, Laredo State University or Texas A&M International University," he assured.
Wright said just as it's an exciting time for the University as it grows and develops, it's an equally exciting time for the Association.
"Since my graduation, it's been most incredible to see a University grow so rapidly from its rather humble start at West End of Washington Street to the first new University campus in Texas in over 25 years. Laredo is a big winner here. We've got a quality university right here in our own back yard. We've got top shelf professors teaching. It's no longer true that you HAVE to leave Laredo to get a good education. It's here and the Association is excited about being a part of this growth and expansion," he said.
He said his goal for the Association are straight-forward.
"Our goal is to continue our building and development of a strong core of active membership. We are also planning on taking the Alumni Association into a bit of a new direction in that we've always put our main attention into providing scholarships to attend the University. We are now looking into developing a way to have Alumnae network with each other to help with job prospecting or career growth or success," he said.
Wright said he also wants to encourage members to continue to be involved in the life of the University.
" I want to urge our graduates to serve on campus committees and task forces that routinely seek their input. I see the participation between alumnae and the University as a win-win situation for everyone. The Alumni get to have input on where the University is headed and the University gets to listen to the opinions of its most valuable constituents - its graduates," he said.
He said the Association has a variety of traditional and new fundraisers in mind to support a continuing goal of helping enhance student scholarship monies.
"We'll continue with our customary rose sale at graduation ceremonies which are always successful, and we'll also be raffling off a "prime" parking space to anyone who wants to be assured a parking space on campus. The winner will have the space for one full year.
'We'll also continue our involvement and leadership in the Dusty Fun Run and Dusty Golf Tournament and welcome opportunities to help out as volunteers or participants. Most recently, along with the Laredo Rotary Club we've formed an endowment. We were able to transform an initial setup of $12,500 to $50,000 through matching funds from the University's Office for Institutional Advancement. We've since added an additional $1,250 into the endowment which has also been matched and matched again. This is one of the biggest things we've done in recent years to insure that needs for scholarship monies are available for years to come, he added.
Wright said he thinks one of the greatest opportunities for alumni involvement in campus life will come with the University's athletics program now underway.
"I'm very excited about athletics here. I think that this will encourage a sense of ownership and belonging for former, current and future students. I'm looking forward to hearing about our teams on the sports pages....win or lose. We're even beginning to plan 'Homecoming' sorts of activities to coincide with scheduled athletics," he said.
Wright noted that while the University's growth, programs, faculty and students are impressive when viewed individually, the greatest impact is seen from a combined, holistic perspective.
"My sense of pride for this University doesn't just come from these individual facets, rather it's a matter of the whole. It's everything about what the University embodies today and it's continuing potential. Its impact on the community has already been felt in a most positive manner, just look at the horizon and the bricks and mortar against the brushcountry. Add the impact of a faculty from all over the world and the growing numbers of students electing to study here and you have an entity that is taking us all further. This campus is the way to the future," he concluded.
For more information on the Alumni Association, contact Wright via the Office for Institutional Advancement, Killam Library 261, call 326.2175 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.