After transferring from Engineering to Physics before my junior year, I felt like an anomaly; I didn’t connect with the faculty or my fellow students and I struggled. Thankfully, Dr. Norman Freed took me under his wing and mentored me for the next two years. His efforts positively impacted my academic career and I wanted to show my gratitude to the college, but my budget did not allow for meaningful financial contribution. As the years passed, that sense of obligation was overwhelmed by family and career, and it remained unfulfilled and eventually forgotten.
After retiring from the military, my wife and I returned to Central Pennsylvania, drawn by its idyllic beauty and our alma mater. We looked for ways to connect with Penn State and I was led to the Eberly Alumni Society Board and its focus on student engagement and mentorship. Built on a prototype developed by Dean Cavener within the Biology Department, the program matched undergraduate students with alumni based on field of study, career focus, and other factors. These matches would endure throughout the academic year, and often be sustained beyond graduation.
Now, the Alumni Mentoring Program is changing to meet the needs of Eberly’s undergrads. We’ll continue to offer one-on-one sustained mentor/mentee engagement, but we’re also expanding to include short-term, transactional mentorship opportunities to quickly answer career questions, review résumés, or brainstorm options for grad school. Believe me, with over 4,000 students, we get a lot of questions; that’s where you come in.
Your experiences and perspective are invaluable. If you are a recent graduate who wants to give back, the time you invest in a student’s future can be as meaningful as a financial contribution. If you are, like me, more seasoned, your career connections and long-term viewpoint can empower a student to explore alternative and unknown career paths. We may be part of a 59K strong alumni community, but you may be the only one of us capable of launching a specific student’s success story.
Colonel, US Air Force, Ret.
BS, Physics ’89