For as long as I can remember, Saturdays were for the Jayhawks. At an early age I learned to wave the wheat and sing the Rock Chalk Chant. I didn’t know what they meant or why we did it, simply that I was supposed to cheer on KU. In all honesty, I was a Jayhawk before I even knew what it was.
However, as I got older I began to pay more attention. Not just to the athletics programs, but to the Jayhawk network around me. I accompanied my dad to alumni dinners, fraternity reunions, J-School Generations, and many a trip to campus to stroll down memory lane (otherwise known as Jayhawk Boulevard.)
It became clear my dad was not the only one who felt this special connection to his alma mater. Other Jayhawks nationwide were bonded by this shared experience. I could see how much love they had for the university and for the time they spent in Lawrence; many even looked for any excuse to come back to the Hill. It was infectious.
The legacy continues
Growing up, my dad couldn’t be home as often as either of us would have liked. He worked hard to provide for our family, and sometimes that included taking jobs cities, or even states, away. Regardless, he was always passionate about his work and eager to share with the family. With my dad being gone a lot of the time, and with me being a typical teenager, we didn’t always have the kind of relationship I hoped for. However, no matter what was going on in our turbulent world, we always had KU to unify us.
It’s been two years since I told my dad I was going to KU. We were seated at the dinner table on Thanksgiving, and the tears of joy began to stream down his face. I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now. The Hill is a magical place for Jayhawks young and old to gather, share stories, and connect. There is such pride in being a Jayhawk, so it’s no wonder alumni want to give back and help the next generation of leaders.
The power of a Jayhawk connection
Stories like this are common at KU because of the culture of alumni who want to assist other Jayhawks. Students already have the opportunity to connect with alumni at major-specific networking events. However, the new Jayhawk Career Network is open to Student Alumni Network members of all backgrounds. This event on Monday, Nov. 27 will be the first of many, and allows both novice and advanced networkers to hone their skills. Both my dad, Mark Mears j’84, and Portia Kibble Smith c’78, owner of PKS Executive Search & Consulting, will be teaching students how to build their own Jayhawk Network.
Throughout his career, my dad has always been eager to give back to KU in any way he can. In 2012 he endowed the Dr. Tim Bengtson Journalism Faculty Mentor Award for journalism professors who carry on the legacy of mentorship Dr. Bengtson left behind. My dad went to KU with the intention of being a lawyer, and it wasn’t until Dr. Bengtson pulled him aside and acknowledged his gift in advertising that my dad found his true passion.
I’m so proud to have a dad who wants to help others be the best version of themselves. All my life he’s instilled in me to “be the best ‘Brianna’ I can be,” and now I get to watch him help others be the best Jayhawks they can be.
Halloween is fast approaching, and we have some treats—mostly the sugar-free kind— for our favorite Jayhawks! Read on to find out about a new community event the Student Alumni Network will co-host this week. And, we have some updated printables to help make your holiday prep a little easier!
The origin of these popular events is a mystery, but what’s not to love: less walking for the little ones and a safer environment for trick-or-treaters. KU student groups will decorate the trunks of cars parked in the Adams Alumni Center lot. Parents are invited to bring their kids to go from car to car to ask for candy.
Trunk or Treat takes place Friday, Oct. 27, from 6-8 p.m. Activities include pumpkin painting, games and a contest for best costume. And, Baby Jay will be available for photo opportunities!
As part of this event, we’re encouraging people to bring food donations for Just Food as part of the KU Food Drive. Most-needed items include canned proteins, beans, whole grain cereals, pasta and nuts.
Don’t let the cold weather forecast or the parking situation scare you off—plenty of indoor activities will be available! And, free parking will be available in the parking garage across the street.
Top your treats
Add some Jayhawk spirit to your Halloween treats with our printable bag toppers. Our designers created a new version this year since our original one was so popular.
Download the printable PDF, print as many as you need, and then cut, fold and staple onto your bag. They’re great for class parties or office treats!
Sarah Heitmeyer, vice president of legacy recruitment for the Student Alumni Network, sent the following message to all Student Alumni Network members about Crimson & Blue Day. The event for prospective students and their family members will be held Friday, Oct. 13.
As we prepare for our fall break on Friday, something big is happening on campus. This Friday is Crimson & Blue Day, which is our chance to show prospective students all the incredible things the University of Kansas has to offer. I want to echo Provost Neeli’s statements about the opportunity to host prospective Jayhawks and their families from across the state, nation, and world.
On Friday, a thousand prospective students will be on the Hill with their family members, and I am sure we’ll see them exploring campus as we go to our classes. We were all prospective students once. Whether you toured many universities or only a few, you remember the overwhelming feeling of making a college decision. Let’s make this decision easy for these prospective students by showing them our caring and compassionate Jayhawk community.
I hope that you will join me in being a welcoming face for these future Jayhawks on Friday. Stop and take a moment to talk with students and their families as you walk around campus. Share with them your KU story and the opportunities and experiences you’ve had here as a student. Ask them if they have questions about campus and KU. They may need help navigating campus or may want to hear about some of your favorite things about KU or Lawrence.
If you are especially interested in connecting with prospective Jayhawks, join me at the Adams Alumni Center from 9-11 a.m. to mingle with students and families. We’ll have breakfast burritos from Salty Iguana as well as Hot Box Cookies available. This will be a great opportunity to share your KU experiences with these future students.
Please join me in welcoming future Jayhawks and their families to campus on Friday. I know together we can show them the best of KU!
Keon Stowers, c’15, assists with student programs for the KU Alumni Association, including advising the Student Alumni Leadership Board. Previously, he represented the KU Office of Admissions helping to recruit first generation and underrepresented students to campus. Keon served as a two-time team captain for KU Football and was featured on Big 12’s Champions for Life series. When Keon isn’t spending time with his beautiful family, he can be found manning the BBQ pit.
I became a Jayhawk because…
When I first got a call from KU I actually had to look on the United States map to find where Kansas was. But after visiting KU for my official recruitment visit, I fell in love with the people. Most importantly, I fell in love with this school and everything the Jayhawk stands for. Now I get the honor of raising two little Jayhawks!
How has KU propelled you into your current career?
After graduating and moving home for a year I returned to KU seeking job opportunities, and that’s where I found an opportunity to work in our Office of Admissions as a recruiter. During my time there I learned so much more about the university and what we have to offer here. I truly believe that my past experience working in the office of admissions has given me great insight on my new role here as Assistant Director of Student Programs.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Having lunch at the Market in the Union. It gives the perfect view of Memorial Stadium on a beautiful Lawrence day!
My favorite KU memory is…
Snapping the horrible Big 12 losing streak against WVU and celebrating with the student section as they rushed the field. It was only our second win that season but it was our Super Bowl and I’ll never forget that game and the euphoric feeling of celebrating with my peers.
My best advice for college students is…
Get involved on campus early. KU has more than 600 student clubs and organizations, pick one and join. That way, you have an immediate cohort of friends to lean on when college gets tough. Also, it gives you a chance to build relationships and build your network for professional opportunities after you walk the hill.
Ally Stanton, j’10, g’12, directs student programs for the KU Alumni Association, including advising the Student Alumni Leadership Board. Previously, she represented the KU Office of Admissions helping to recruit future Jayhawks to campus. The former KU softball student-athlete also spent time as a graduate assistant for the KU Leads program within KU Athletics where she helped advise the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and facilitated leadership programming and retreats. Ally can still be found on the ball diamond, playing slow pitch for the 2016 Lawrence Parks and Rec Co-Ed Lower League Champions, the Squids in Space.
I became a Jayhawk because…
I visited campus for a KU softball camp and the feeling I had on campus was magnetic. When I returned home to St. Louis it felt like Jayhawks were coming out of the woodwork to tell me and my family all the great things about KU. It became a no-brainer to become a Jayhawk after that.
How has KU propelled you into your current career?
When I returned to KU in a career capacity, all the people who were there for me as a student immediately became helpful colleagues and friends. Jayhawks want to help other Jayhawks regardless if they are students, graduates, faculty or staff.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Allen Fieldhouse on a non-gameday afternoon. We occasionally had plyometric workouts in the Fieldhouse as a team, because there are lots of stairs to run up and down in that place. The lights were always off, so our only light leaked in from the windows at the top of the building, making super-dramatic shadows inside. It all felt very special and secret, and you’d forgot how much your body was just dying from the workout.
My favorite KU memory is…
Coming back to work here after spending some time away working at another institution. That first week back in Lawrence was wonderful. That feeling of ‘coming home’ was exciting and reaffirming.
The University of Kansas Alumni Association’s Student Alumni Network has launched a Restaurant Partner Program, teaming with popular area restaurants to offer students a variety of food selections for upcoming network events. The restaurants featured in the program will be the exclusive provider in each cuisine category. They are Bigg’s BBQ (barbecue), Hot Box Cookies (dessert), Jefferson’s Restaurant (burgers and wings), McAlister’s Deli (sandwiches), Papa Keno’s Pizzeria (pizza) and The Salty Iguana (Mexican). Students also will be able to win gift cards and receive discounts, special offers and giveaways from each of the restaurant partners at Student Alumni Network events and through the network’s social media channels.
The new restaurant partner program is one of many benefits offered to KU students in the Student Alumni Network, the largest student organization on campus. Other benefits include alumni networking events and career services, free food at student events, discounts at the KU Bookstore and other local and national businesses, a free mobile app, and other exclusive gifts. Membership in the Student Alumni Network is free for all KU undergraduate and graduate students, thanks to funding provided by the Alumni Association and KU Endowment.
“We are immensely grateful to these outstanding Lawrence restaurants for their support,” said Heath Peterson, Association president. “Through these partnerships, we can provide students with more programs, benefits and opportunities throughout the school year, not to mention delicious food.”
Students new to the Hill mingled with fellow Jayhawks and learned how to get involved at Hawk Fest, an annual event coordinated by the Student Alumni Network, the Office of First-Year Experience and the Student Involvement and Leadership Center.
More than 600 student organizations and activities were represented at the information fair, and students enjoyed plenty of freebies and giveaways including T-shirts, food and coupons.
The Student Alumni Network unveiled its new Restaurant Partner Program at the event, with five students winning gift cards and other items from the five participating restaurants. Congratulations to the lucky students:
Haley Mitchell, Papa Keno’s gift card
Emily Overton, Hot Box Cookies gift card
Alex Fesi, Bigg’s BBQ gift card
Alexandria Williams, Jefferson’s gift card
Tatum Boyer, Salty Iguana
After Hawk Fest, students headed next door to Memorial Stadium to learn how to wave the wheat, perform the fight song clap, and hear from KU celebrities and coaches.
Local personality and talk show host Mike Anderson, g’06, PhD’12, served as the evening’s emcee.
Check out the slideshows below to see pictures from both events, or visit our Flickr page. Photos may be downloaded for personal use. If you’re a current KU student, be sure to activate your Student Alumni Network membership! Download the KU Alumni app and register, or complete the activation form online.
In order to better serve the students of the University of Kansas, the KU Alumni Association’s student program is evolving from the Student Alumni Association to the Student Alumni Network.
Replacing the term “association” with “network” highlights a renewed focus on connecting KU students with the vast network of KU alumni around the world. In addition to the name change, Student Alumni Network memberships are now free for all KU degree-seeking students due to support from KU Endowment.
With the networks of over 28,000 students and 300,000 alumni around the world available, the Student Alumni Network will help students develop their own professional networks for career advice and opportunities long before they leave the Hill.
“As the largest student group and the premiere networking organization on the KU campus, the rebrand of the Student Alumni Association is a precursor to a much more robust plan to launch new programs to foster high-level career connections across industries,” Heath Peterson, KU Alumni Association President, said. “The effort will include a dynamic KU alumni mentoring platform, programs featuring industry leaders across the country, new internship pipelines and job connections, enhanced career data, and new partnerships across the KU enterprise.”
In addition to these new and upcoming initiatives, traditional Student Alumni Network events such as Home Football Fridays and Finals Dinners will be offered to all students, and the Student Alumni Leadership Board will continue to serve as the student representatives of the KU Alumni Association.
To activate a student membership, simply complete the online activation form, download the KU Alumni mobile app and register, or attend any of the numerous SAN events throughout the year.