On Saturday, April 18th, in a weekend full of firsts, Beacon College held its first official Alumni Reunion on campus, providing another exciting moment in the College’s history. Beacon alumni were given an opportunity to reconnect with one another and meet new people; tour the changed campus; participate in career workshops; listen to guest speaker, Patricia Latham; and enjoy a barbeque with members of the Beacon College community. In short, a lot of activity was packed into this fun-filled day! It was a day to remember, and alumni are (understandably) already requesting another reunion.
The eventful day began with a light continental breakfast and a welcome from Chelsea Eubank, Director of Alumni Relations, and President George Hagerty, who reviewed the College’s position in history. A campus tour soon followed, which was fittingly led by Admissions Counselor, Jack Callahan, himself a 2014 graduate of Beacon College. Alums were surprised and impressed by the changes to campus, which include the acquisition of Burbank Hall, formally the Social Security Building. Even those who have visited campus recently saw a new and improved College environment, with more positive changes on the horizon geared toward better meeting student needs.
After seeing and hearing about the plans for current and future Beacon students, it was time to turn the attention to the needs of Beacon alumni. As a vital component of the Beacon College community, alumni require representation at the College. With this in mind, Chelsea Eubank officially established the Beacon College Alumni Association at the Alumni Reunion, upon reading and reviewing the suggested by-laws to all attendees and receiving unanimous approval from the group. It was expected that alumni would be eager to have their own organization, but the overwhelming desire to serve on the Council was not anticipated. Nearly half the reunion attendees indicated an interest in joining the Council. In the next couple of weeks, nominees will be formally introducing themselves and explaining why they desire a position on the Council, and voting will commence by May 15, 2015.
Patricia Latham, one of the founders of Beacon College and a recognized legal authority in the field of special education, was the featured speaker for this pivotal event in Beacon’s history. Chelsea Eubank, Director of Alumni Relations, notes that Pat Latham was an apt choice given her role in Beacon’s history, commenting, “Mrs. Latham shared her story of the journey of creating Beacon College.“ After providing the alums with a brief overview of the College’s creation, Latham focused on an important topic for anyone in the work world, especially someone diagnosed with a learning disability- understanding your legal rights in the workplace. In a speech titled “Your Rights and Responsibilities in the Workplace,” Latham outlined the law and the legal steps one could take if there is a belief that legal rights are being infringed on. While knowing one’s legal rights was the focus of the speech, the message ultimately was on finding an appropriate career match and advocating for oneself when necessary. Latham provided anecdotes of when rights were actually being violated and when they were not, and she reminded the audience that finding the right job position is a key step in avoiding the need for legal action. According to Latham, using the law should always be the last resort, though every employee should be aware of his/her rights.
After being provided with helpful information from Pat Latham, alumni were given an opportunity to select between two career-oriented workshops. Alums had previously been polled as to which workshop topics they would be interested in, and the clear winner was ones geared toward career development and growth. In Susan Ward’s workshop, “Build Your Career,” participants were given concrete ideas for how to search for and find the appropriate job for them. In Dr. Shelly Chandler’s workshop, “Discover Your Perfect Career,” participants began the session with a computer-based test designed to assess their skills and determine what career would best match with the test takers personality and skill set. Both workshops and their moderators received rave reviews from alums in attendance, with Jennie Friedman even commenting, “She [Dr. Chandler] is the best.” The workshops provided an opportunity not only for alumni to expand their knowledge but also to meet Susan Chandler, who is in her first year as Coordinator of Career Development and a critical contact for Beacon alums in search of a job, and to reconnect with Dr. Chandler, a favorite former teacher for many. Workshop participants even requested that Dr. Chandler cover topics that she had previously introduced to students in her psychology and human services courses. This is what alumni reunions do best- offer opportunities for both students and staff to reminisce and to create new memories and add new connections to their already established Beacon community of friends.
Alumni capped off their day with a light reception and catered barbeque. The early spring evening provided a calm and pleasant environment for alums to enjoy one another’s company and to catch up with Beacon College faculty and staff. It was a relaxing and rejuvenating way to wrap up the day.
Judging by the immediate insistence on another reunion, we would say this event was an absolute success! If you are a Beacon College alumnus interested in joining the Alumni Association Counsel or in hosting a regional alumni gathering in your area, please contact Chelsea Eubank, at email@example.com or 404-447-4725 for more information.
Photos from the event may be viewed on Flickr.
Photos Courtesy of Tim Wessel and Heather Reed