Rs of Gold. In 1988, Alumni Relations created Students Together In Networking Graduates (STING) to address student retention and spirit that was more “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” than “My Own and Only Love.” Twenty years after its establishment, it was time to reexamine STING’s purpose. In 2009, Alumni Relations developed a program that more closely aligned with its philosophy and strategy: the Student Alumni Ambassadors (SAAs). STING was gone, but not forgotten.
Don’t call it a comeback. A reincarnation of STING made up of 30 to 35 undergraduates, the SAA program serves as a bridge between current undergraduates and alumni, while fostering students’ pride in Rochester and their interest in staying connected and giving back. Although it would be great if SAAs could get alumni and fellow classmates to trade Uptown Funk for The Genesee, their purpose is really to inspire future alumni leaders and donors.
UR lovefools. SAAs can be easily identified by their uniforms: the spirit R cardigans. But it’s what’s underneath their Meliora duds that make them who they are. SAAs are the kind of students who when they say they bleed blue and gold, there’s some concern they may try to prove it. They are exceptionally positive and enthusiastic; they are eager to meet new people to expand their personal and professional networks; and they have a solid grasp of the University’s history, mission, and current initiatives. They are quite literally our poster children.
R is for veRsatile. There is little that Advancement could ask SAAs to do that they are not already doing. Need a student presence for a general campus, local, or regional event or how about a presidential or George Eastman Circle event? SAAs do that. Need a campus tour for a prospective donor or new Advancement staff member? Follow the cardigan, sir or madam. Do you want to thank a donor or volunteer with a call, card, or video, or perhaps a current student’s perspective on the University? S. A. As.
Yaas, SAAs. There are countless glowing anecdotes from prospective families, alumni, and volunteers that prove the SAA program is an invaluable contributor to the Advancement mission. But for a sense of hard value, in labor hours, their service is worth an average of more than $17,000 a year. Better still is the program’s effect on SAA members. Compared to their peers, SAA members have proven to be far more likely to give to their senior class gift campaign, continue giving after graduation, and become a member of the George Eastman Circle. And many also continue to serve as alumni volunteers.