Winter 2021 Issue

Harking Upon a Virtual Gale

By Alice Givens ’94
Chair, I-CARE committee, WMAA Board of Directors

In recent years, through the efforts of our volunteer leaders and staff, the WMAA has dramatically increased the opportunities for alumni and friends of William & Mary to connect with each other and with W&M. Alumni participation in engagement offerings tripled during the For the Bold campaign.

Since the pandemic began, we have quickly pivoted to provide engagement opportunities of all kinds virtually. While certainly a challenge, this was also an opportunity for creativity and collaboration. We’ve worked with faculty, staff, alumni, parents, students and outside experts to generate new content. The virtual format has also allowed for new audiences to participate. Now, all alumni can “attend” all programs from literally anywhere in the world.

The I-CARE Committee of your Alumni Association oversees inclusion, career, affinity and regional engagement. Our mission is to bring to life for our alumni W&M values such as belonging, excellence and curiosity. I love hearing from alumni for whom our programming makes a difference. For example, Clarissa Delgado ’09, COO and co-founder of Teach for the Philippines, shared that now our programming is online, she has been able to participate and reconnect with classmates and her alma mater — all the way from the Philippines. I also enjoyed participating this summer in an online event with the leaders of our regional networks and chapters as they met each other and shared best practices for keeping their local alumni engaged virtually. Overall, we’ve seen a 26% increase in registrations for events, and those registrants have been more ethnically, geographically and generationally diverse.

And, of course, virtual Homecoming was a highlight of the fall, with more than 55 events over two weeks, including Zoom-unions, departmental events, a career and networking hour, a Q&A with Chancellor Robert Gates ’65, L.H.D. ’98 and more.

While we miss seeing each other in person at Homecoming, Yule Log and Charter Day, I am so proud of our alma mater and alumni for staying engaged, finding ways to continue their lifelong friendships and to reimagine these events in a virtual world. We welcome your suggestions for future programming. Visit our virtual engagement opportunities webpage to see current programs and suggest an opportunity.

The W&M Alumni Association takes great pride in our community of alumni who are inquisitive lifelong learners. After this pandemic finally ends, we will continue to offer virtual engagement as part of our mix of programming and resources. See you in person or online soon!