This December, nearly 1,000 of us will walk at commencement and officially become alumni of the University of Miami. The sudden transition from student to alumni begs the question: what does it really mean to be a part of the Canes family after our time here is over?
Alumni have always held clout over universities, but this is especially true at private institutions such as UM, where alumni donations play a much bigger role in the school’s overall funding. While most of us are paying a hefty price out of pocket to attend this school, we must also recognize that a great deal of our experience at UM has benefited from the contributions of alumni. Academic scholarships, athletics, student programs and facilities like the Shalala Student Center and the Wellness Center have all been significantly boosted by alumni donations. Most recently, alumnus Thomas Murphy Jr.’s company has pledged a generous sum to build a new and much-needed architecture studio building.
No doubt, if we eventually have the ability, it would feel great to give back to future students in such a big way. Hated something about campus? Imagine making that problem disappear for the next generation of Canes. But writing a check is not the only way to make a valuable contribution. Offering professional connections, mentoring current students and participating in leadership within alumni organizations are all meaningful ways of taking pride in our alma mater.
As a relatively young school, it is extremely important that we add value to our degree by solidifying a strong, beneficial alumni network. Inching upon only our first century as an institution, we are lucky to still be in a window of time when we can shape that alumni reputation. Visible alumni who give back to the school not only provide resources for students, but also serve as testaments to what kind of success a UM degree can lead to.
The ideal collegiate experience in America is portrayed as a great source of pride, loyalty and camaraderie. Imagine having a college experience that will have us coming back for homecoming games, wearing our school colors and brainwashing our children to attend the best school in the world. We can only hope that many years down the road, we will be able to look back at our time at UM with that appreciation and enthusiasm. But improving the experiences of future graduates? That is something we can do.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.