I wrote about our department Homecoming breakfast last year, but I like the event so much I wanted to talk about it again. I’m not sure who on the campus came up with the idea, but it’s a great one. Too often, Homecoming is this large event with alumni all over the place, and it’s difficult to get to see who one wants to see. By gathering all of the alumni associated with a department in one place, we get to see who we want to see (and they get to see some of who they want to see, I assume).
As with last year, there wasn’t enough time to talk to everyone, as there simply never is. Now that I’m in my fourteenth year, I’ve taught enough people that it’s difficult to keep up with everyone, especially now that I’m much less active on social media than I was a year or two ago. Given that most people think everyone is keeping up with them on said social media, they are less likely to keep in touch and let us know what they’re up to.
Actually, that gets to one of my main points, and this is directed to alumni more than professors. We really do want to know what our students are up to, both professionally and personally. At a school like the one where we teach, we get to know our students fairly well. They often know how to get to our houses without directions, and we have seen more of their lives than just what happens in the classroom. We’ve been to their weddings, gone out to dinner with them, sometimes even taken trips with them.And this is why I love this event. I got to talk to a group of students who are all using their English degrees in ways most students don’t think about. I talked to one student who works at a PR firm managing campaigns for a couple of businesses about 45 minutes away from school. When I told her I had heard about those businesses, she was surprised, but pleased. She really seems to be enjoying her job.
I talked with three students (the one above was one of them) about how writing is such a valued skill in the workplace because so few people can do it well. They all talked about how people were amazed at how well they can write. In the case of the young woman who’s working in PR, her boss asked her if she could teach her co-workers to write. We joked about how much time that would take, though she was glad to say that there were at least some things she could teach them.
I saw students who have new jobs and jobs they’ve been working in since they were undergraduates; I talked with students who are newly married and (unfortunately) recently divorced; I caught up with students who haven’t left our town (where they also grew up) and those who have moved multiple times since they graduated, and it’s clear they’re still not settled and some who have been around the world. They are living wide and varied lives, and that’s (mostly) great to see. I and my colleagues want only the best for them, and it’s fun to see them enjoying various parts of their lives, as we did when we were their age.
I’ll go back into my classes on Monday refreshed in a way that only happens a few times a year because I’ll remember that the students in front of me will be these alumni in just a few years. I’ll think about how much I’ll look forward to seeing them. I’ll encourage them to come to Homecoming, so I can think and maybe even write about this event five or ten years from now, but mainly just so I can see the people they’ve continued to become.