Community / Opinion

Options for students seeking alumnae connections

During April’s Reunion Weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting three alumnae from the Class of 1974 when they visited Journalism class during D block. This conversation was enjoyable for both the students and the alumnae. Everyone present was engaged and interested in exchanging information and stories from the past (and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing old Dana Hall rules I’d found in the Archives for a previous article). All of my classmates loved having the chance to talk with alumnae and compare Dana Hall experiences, and the alumnae enjoyed hearing about what life is like for us as current students. 

After we discussed the differences and similarities in student life at Dana Hall, the alumnae also talked about where their lives went from the moment after they crossed the stage at the Dana Hall commencement ceremony, which is something the current students have yet to experience. They spoke about their college experience, as well as the different directions their careers went following graduation from college, and advice they had for us. 

The most meaningful piece of advice they gave to us was “always keep an open mind and keep your love of learning; it will get you very far”. I left with a greater insight on life and where my life might lead me after Dana Hall, and I didn’t realize that the duration of one Friday D-block could be so life-changing.

I quickly realized that students who didn’t have a class during that specific D-block did not have the same experience that I had, making me realize I was one of the extremely fortunate ones. If not for my convenient scheduling, I would have not gotten the experience of conversing with three people who were once in my shoes, many years ago. I began to think about what chances current students had to socialize with alumnae, and I realized there were few that Dana Hall officially sponsors. A lot of alumnae connections must be made outside of school on your own time using your own resources. Students do not have access to the alumnae directory on DanaConnect until graduation, preventing connections being found through the database. While apps like Facebook give way to finding connections on your own, reaching out to strangers, even if they were once in your shoes, is intimidating and students would have more confidence in an official school setting.

So far, She Sails, Dana Hall’s biennial leadership conference is the largest chance that current students have to interact with alumnae. Students have the chance to hear alumnae keynote speakers, and interact with them afterwards. The next She Sails is scheduled for April 26, 2025, but in the meantime, students should be able to have more regular, smaller-scale events to be able to interact with alumnae.

I spoke with Ms. Harriet Prince ‘06, Associate Director of Alumnae Relations, to ask about opportunities current students have to connect with alumnae. She spoke about the Student-Alumnae Relations Club (better known by students as STAR Club) is a Dana Hall student organization, which, according to their mission statement, “provides an opportunity for students to step into leadership roles and to create a philanthropic culture in support of the School. By being involved with on-campus alumnae events, students will engage and network directly with alumnae.” According to Ms. Prince, STAR club has been brainstorming ideas for a student-alumnae brunch, but this has yet to come to fruition. 

One of the biggest challenges that STAR Club, and every branch of Dana Hall student-alumnae programs, face is finding availability between alum’s busy schedules and students’ hectic school days. Zoe Sweeney ‘25, one of the current tri-heads of STAR club, says that another challenge they face when planning student-alumnae events is garnering enough student interest to properly plan a formal event. However, members of STAR Club have enjoyed the the opportunity join the Dana Hall Alumnae LinkedIn group through Ms. Prince, and she is happy to introduce interested students who have reached out, and members of STAR club. STAR club accepts any interested members at the beginning of each school year, and serves as a strong system for student-alumnae networking.

While students currently have only She Sails and Alumnae Weekend to directly connect with alumnae through a schoolwide event, Ms. Prince hopes that more students will reach out to her, as she is in touch with a wide range of alumnae who work in many different fields and have had a variety of life experiences. Ms. Prince is willing to connect current students with alumnae, and is enthusiastic about student-alumnae relationships and collaboration. 

“I do want students to be more aware of me, that I’m available and I’m a resource, and they should reach out to me if those kinds of things interest them…we have a lot of alums who want to connect with students and would be happy to help with things they’re interested in,” said Ms. Prince.

All alumnae were once in our shoes, and have invaluable knowledge specifically as a person who graduated Dana Hall to go on to form careers. Dana Hall students would benefit greatly from interacting with alumnae, whether it be for enjoyment, life advice, or networking. Upperclassmen could especially benefit from a strong connection with the alumnae as they think about the future and their lives past Dana Hall, and Ms. Prince wants the Dana Hall community to know that she is enthusiastic about fostering interpersonal connections between students looking for mentors, and alumnae looking for mentees. 

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