by Keith Stichtenoth, associate executive director
UC Alumni Association students become alumni. That's pretty basic stuff. And it logically follows that actively engaged students who are passionate about their university tend to become actively engaged alumni who are passionate about their alma mater.
Cultivating engagement and spirit among students is the mission of the Student Alumni Council (SAC), a group of about 60 undergraduates organized under the umbrella of the University of Cincinnati Alumni Association.
"UC is a great university with a rich history," says Brad Johnson, DAAP '08, current SAC president who quickly developed fierce Bearcat pride upon arriving in 2003 from Raleigh, N.C. "Of course, we recognize and honor our alma mater as alumni, but it should start while we're students.
"To that end, the Student Alumni Council works toward creating a greater 'alumni culture' on campus today so that we'll have a more vibrant alumni family tomorrow. Our work is aligned with the work of the UC Alumni Association so that we can get a good start on stewarding this vital, lifelong relationship between individuals and their university."
The group takes its mission seriously and comes by its reputation honestly. It currently holds the Metro Spirit Cup, awarded annually by UC's Men of Metro to the student organization demonstrating the greatest spirit and attendance at various campus and athletic events. Furthermore, SAC was named UC's top student organization overall (out of more than 300 groups) twice in the past five years.
"Traditionally, alumni are the enduring 'keepers of the school spirit,' and we're proud that SACers are living and spreading this passion more than any other UC student group," Johnson says.
Founded in the early 1980s, the Student Alumni Council boasts more than 500 alumni carrying the organization's ideals into successful careers worldwide. Membership is coveted; each year more than 100 candidates seek to join, with only about 20 selected through a process that leverages the full membership's participation.
"Our mission is very important in the big picture of UC's ongoing success, which means membership is an honor and responsibility," Johnson adds. "We feel a sense of 'passing the torch' as we move through our time as students, so we're all involved as our membership process helps define the organization. After all, SAC is our people and passion."
From the Alumni Association's perspective, the Student Alumni Council serves the university's needs in key ways.
"The UCAA is very interested in student development because we understand the direct correlation between engagement and leadership as students and then later as alumni," says Jessica Kinnemeyer, Bus '06, past SAC president. Like many of her peers, she formed her Alumni Association connection as a student, then continued in her active role as an alumna; she's now chair of UCAA's Young Alumni Scholarship Committee.
Student Alumni Council's mission manifests itself in a variety of tangible ways, including:
Volunteer work at such events as the annual Crosstown Helpout community service day, Commencement, Convocation and pre-game events at the Myers Alumni Center
Coordination of the annual Sibs Weekend, in which UC students invite their younger brothers and sisters to join them for two days of activities
The assembly and marketing of Welcome Kits for incoming freshmen, which parents purchase for delivery during a new student's first few days on campus
Two new landmarks, however, have just been achieved as the group assumes even more responsibility for Homecoming and the new "Red & Black" book. Details follow.