Each year, a group of six students visits two different cities in the United States to network with alumni both in social settings and in business environments. To be selected for the all-expenses paid trip, students go through an application and interview process. In 2018, the students traveled to Chicago, Illinois, and Nashville, Tennessee, and other past destinations include New York City, New York; Seattle, Washington; and Boston, Massachusetts; among others. This year, students are jumping on a plane and traveling to Atlanta, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., to meet with OU alumni.
Kristen Williams, a junior majoring in musical arts with an emphasis in voice and psychology, participated in the trip last year while serving as the alumni relations chair for the Student Alumni Association.
Through networking with alumni, Williams realized just how deep OU roots run.
“The Sooner family’s a big deal,” the Houston, Texas, native explained. “Originally I just thought that it was here on campus – you make your friends, you’re in your organizations, and that’s the Sooner family – but the Sooner family is anyone who has graduated from here, from this university, and you’re tied to them just because of this school. That’s the sense of pride that we have at this school, and that’s something that is just so unique compared to others.”
Of course, the students did enjoy some tourist moments in Chicago and Nashville, like seeing The Bean in Chicago and eating at really good local restaurants, but the main focus of the trip was meeting with alumni. While the current students gained insight to life after graduation from the alumni, the alumni also wanted to hear about what is going on at the university now, Williams said.
“OU is not finished when you’re gone. Everybody still has this really strong sense of community as if they were still here,” Williams shared. “One reason I decided I wanted to do the trip is because I wanted to take advantage of all the experiences that I could have doing it. It was really eye-opening to see how OU is connected all around the country.”