Alumni and students connect at Multicultural Alumni Reunion
Saturday’s MCAR celebration was an afternoon of music and networking for AU alumni and students
American University's Multicultural Alumni Reunion brought together alumni and students for a weekend of music, discussions and networking. The art and community-focused weekend, which also took place over Family Weekend, was organized by multiple alumni groups, including the Black Alumni Alliance, the Latino Alumni Alliance and the Asian and Pacific Islander Alumni Network.
The reunion spanned from Friday, Oct. 13 to Sunday, Oct. 15 and included a sold-out Friday performance by award-winning rapper Flo Rida, as well as a BBQ on Sunday. On Saturday, Oct. 14, the MCAR Celebrate event took place in the Katzen Arts Center, where current students, faculty and alumni made new connections.
MCAR co-chair Chelsea Greene, a teacher in D.C., was one of the Black Alumni Alliance members responsible for organizing Saturday's event. She received her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from AU in 2020 and her Master’s of Special Education from AU in 2021. Greene reached out to potential guests and helped plan the performance lineup. She emphasized the importance of not only having AU alumni reunions but also multicultural ones.
“We’re students at a [predominantly white institution] and that experience is very unique,” Greene said. “I think it’s helpful to know who the people are that you can automatically go to. So, it’s really great to have these events to make those connections, get to meet other people and find your community very quickly, especially since it’s in October. A lot of new students are just getting here so they’re getting to know people and make alumni connections earlier than their senior year.”
Larry Holman, who graduated from AU in 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Political Science, also values the opportunities that the event provides.
“When I was on campus, I wished that alumni were just a little bit more proactive with helping me out,” Holman said. “Like I had to seek them out, but I wish they sought me out before. Because you know, being a first generation college student, you don’t know that. Like, you don’t even know how to ask for help. And so just being that resource for Black men, like people who look like me, that’s important to me.”
Holman is currently the program manager of policy and advocacy for The Trenton Health Team, a nonprofit healthcare organization in Trenton, New Jersey.
Saturday’s 1 p.m. celebration featured performances from Les Coeurs D'Afrique, a student dance group, as well as Pan Masters Steel Orchestra and Salsa with Silva. American University President Sylvia Burwell and Vice President Traevena Byrd also congratulated the alumni affinity groups on the progress they’ve made with inclusive events.
MCAR co-chairs and AU alumnae Adriana Rodriguez, Alain Xiong-Calmes and Chelsea Greene spoke about how far the alumni affinity groups and Alumni Association have come in bringing together a diverse group of alumni each year.
Alumnae Stephanie Lopez and Sabrina Laverty were especially excited to return to AU this weekend. The childhood friends and first-generation college graduates came to the Saturday event together. Laverty graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor’s in International and Global Studies, and this was her second time attending an AU reunion.
“Even though we graduated a couple years ago, I think it's really important for students to know that there are people who look like them who are alumni that want to support them and the things that they're interested in,” Laverty said.
Laverty is currently an Ignite Change Fellow for the pro-choice political action committee, EMILY’S List.
Lopez, who graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor’s in Public Relations and Strategic Communications, was impressed by her first AU reunion.
“I think because I graduated in the COVID world, it was difficult to do reunions,” Lopez said. “So now being here and this being my first time back, it does feel great to just see the commitment the University has. So, I feel like this has motivated me to try to go to more events.”
Lopez is currently the senior manager of development at The Voter Participation Center.
American University’s Office of Alumni Relations also worked hard to attract alumni like Laverty and Lopez. The office actively promoted the events through email and social media and encouraged current students to invite alumni associated with their clubs or Greek organizations. On Sunday, there was a Multicultural Fraternity and Sorority Brunch.
Hassan Gomes, and other members of the Office of Alumni Relations, plan these events. Gomes is the associate director of affinity engagement and University advancement. He took this position last November and appreciates how the Office’s events benefit both current students and alumni.
“Our current students are our top priority, and we’re making sure that they have a good experience here,” Gomes said. “And these alumni have a lot of resources when it comes to job placement and things of that nature. So, it’s about creating community. So, I welcome our alumni back and it’s about encouraging our current students to also graduate and become future alumni.”
This article was edited by Aline Behar Kado and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Emilia Rodriguez.