CLA Alumni Volunteers Make it Happen

A maroon backdrop with yellow confetti and the words thank you to our alumni volunteers

Every year, more than 400 CLA alumni give back – as mentors, panelists, advocates, Council members, ambassadors, interviewers, and more. This week, we celebrate our alumni volunteers and express profound thanks for the many ways in which they transform our CLA community for the better! Meet three of these stellar volunteers and learn what motivates them to give of their time and talent.

Headshot of alum John Patterson

What’s your why? For many of our CLA alumni volunteers, the drive to give back is

simple: they want to make the world a better place. 

“Volunteering has always been something that’s important to me, but I began volunteering with UMAA for two reasons. First, as a way to give back to a community that provided the space for my growth during an incredibly pivotal time in my life. Second, so that I may be a part of the change that would bring an even better space to a wider audience, more inclusive of the UMN community in its entirety.” – John Patterson (BA ‘21, sociology and theatre arts) 

Sometimes, service to others can also mean service to self! 

Headshot of alumna Gretchen Halverson

“I've found myself taking my own advice in certain instances. Whether it's looking at someone's resume or LinkedIn profile or sharing advice on how to navigate post-grad life, I remember that I do have a lot of the answers. I should add those extra details to my resume; I should also make sure to update my LinkedIn profile periodically; I can solve tough problems. Supporting students reminds me of my own need to support my own career, too, and that there's so much to learn by connecting and mentoring others.” – Gretchen Halverson (BA ‘11, political science) 

Volunteering allows some of our alumni to be the mentor they wish they had. 

Headshot of Zamzam Abdirahman

“As a graduate of CLA, I began volunteering with Career Services because of my experiences of being a peer mentor at the President's Emerging Scholars Program. I appreciated being a peer mentor because I was able to work closely with new UMN students about their experiences and concerns as well as provide resources and advice. I am the eldest daughter in my family and didn't have an older sibling to reach out to when I had questions about college and what I should be doing to prepare for the future. I wanted to make sure that students who were in a similar situation as me had a familiar face and person to reach out.” – Zamzam Abdirahman (BA '16, biology, society and environment)

Feeling inspired? Check out our Alumni Volunteer Form to see all of the ways in which you can lend a helping hand in the new year. We also welcome your feedback or thoughts on additional ways you can engage with students, departments, or the college. Send your ideas to Megan Mehl, director of alumni experiences and college events,

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