Today: Apr 23, 2024

Alumni return to SCSU to meet with students

Jene ThomasGeneral Assignment Reporter

Due to the rain, tents were pitched in the academic quad of Southern Connecticut State University to welcome back Alumni on Oct. 1.

Alumni ranging from artists to attorneys came to answer student questions about life after college and transitioning into the working world. Students were given a chart of professionals in attendance, separated by major, profession and what table they were located at. This was the Fifth Annual Alumni Professionals Day, put on by the Department of Alumni Relations.

“We want to have our students meet different alumni, make connections with the alumni for future networking purposes and give them a taste of what it’s like to do what these people do,” said Michelle Rocheford Johnston, director of Alumni Relations.

Students had the opportunity to speak with professionals in their own field or explore those in unfamiliar areas of study.

The chart of attendees listed the major but many followed a different path after college. Eric Chester, class of 1997, majored in elementary education with a specialization in history and prepared to teach after college. Within 17 years, he attended law school and is now an attorney at Ferguson, Doyle & Chester, P.C. firm in Rocky Hill.

“I intended on teaching social studies, but after teaching for two years, I went to law school,” Chester said. “And I’ll say this—you never know where you’re going to end up. You could be a journalism major and wind up doing something you never anticipated doing. When opportunities present themselves, you take them.”

Though he did not partake in any internship during his stay at Southern, he recommends students take advantage and gain the experience.

The pattern continued with Robert Gregory, class of 1975. While studying at Southern, Gregory majored in political science. Right after graduation, he landed a job with Mobil Oil and then moved to importing liquor with Rumple Minze, a German style brand, where he gained his marketing experience.

‘I’m a very competitive person and I was just not going to fail,” he said. “My fear of failure pushed me, it didn’t freeze me.”

With the new job, Gregory was able to travel to New York, New Jersey and eventually to foreign countries. While traveling, he met a man who then tried to recruit him to join his company. When the company was sold three years later, Gregory reached out to the man, who had a voicemail company.

“So I went from there to running voicemail international in Manhattan,” he said. “I was in charge of everything east of Chicago. This company invented voicemail so it was still brand new technology.”

Aftertime a company would check their voice messages he would make money. He stayed there for 20 years until he and a man he met in Miami started their own company, Novern Media Solutions. This all originated from a political science major and his first job with oil.

“Find mentors and network, network, network,” Gregory said, “because that’s how it all happened for me. If I hadn’t sit with this guy on a plane to Miami, I wouldn’t have been where I was for 20 years and been able to fly all over the world. I’ve been to Monte Carlo, Italy, France, London.”

In the spring semester of 2015, a follow up event is supposed to take place, Johnston said. Professionals that attended Alumni Professional day will be contacted and asked to return. Beginning in January, the alumni relations committee will begin asking alumni to become student mentors.

“If you’re interested, we will match you up with a mentor in your field,” she said. “Last year we matched 168 students with 168 mentors.”

Photo Credit: Jene Thomas

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