Ep 20: Living the Alumni Way, Everyday: The power and potential lifelong engagement with your alumni network can bring to your professional and personal life after graduation.
12:24PM Aug 27, 2021
Shelli Ann Garland
Hello, and welcome to a dash of SaLT. I'm Dr. Shelli Ann and I'm so glad you're here. Whether you stumbled upon this podcast by accident, or you're here because the subject drew you in welcome. SaLT is an acronym for society and learning today. This podcast was created as an outlet for inviting fresh discussions on sociology and learning theories that impact your world. Each episode includes a wide range of themes that focus on society in everyday learning, whether formal or informal. So let's get stuck in shall we?
Welcome to A Dash of SaLT. Today I'm joined by Dr. Maria Gallo. Dr. Gallo is the founder of KITE, keep in touch education, which is an alumni research services company that focuses on the transformative potential of alumni connection. She has over 20 years experience in higher education, leadership and advancement roles in Ireland and Canada, including at University College Dublin, and the University of Toronto. Maria is also a visiting Research Fellow with the Centre for Social Innovation at Trinity Business School, Trinity College, Dublin, and the expert alumni advisor to CERN Alumni Board, as a culmination of her research and publications in the field of alumni relations, her first book, the alumni way, building lifelong value from your university investment will be published by policy press, Bristol University Press on the 30th of September 2021. Maria, I'm really delighted to have you on the podcast today to speak with you about the role that University Alumni can play in enhancing formal and informal learning.
Oh, it's my pleasure to be here, Shelli, thank you for inviting me.
So to break the ice Maria, I wanted to tell you that I really love watching TED Talks, and I really loved yours. It's it's nice and concise. It's really short, which is great. But it's also very inspiring. And you ask a question that really resonated with me. You said, What if an alumni connection can transform your life? That's a really powerful and thought provoking question. And I have many colleagues and friends that say that the only thing that their alumni association ever contacts them for is money. But you know, we know that there's much more to it. So is it the responsibility of your alma mater, to engage with you after graduation? Or is it yours to engage with them?
Well, it's such a good question, what a nice way to start, thank you. I really do feel that we need to take that responsibility and be proactive as alumni go out there and actually see what our alumni network can actually provide for us. And that can be really difficult because of that coupling that you talked about. That idea that alumni is often so much coupled with this idea of fundraising. So Oh, there's always that suspicion around if alumni, if you're going to be asked for money, ask for a donation. And so that can often spar what I call in my book, the alumni Grinch, this idea of the cynicism that grows inside of us that we don't want to connect with our alumni self, that we want to escape from the university. And in doing that, we are then losing out on having all of these connections and this engagement that we can have. And so I do firmly believe that if we kind of engage regularly with you know, finding people that are, you know, maybe have a shared connection, because they went to the same university as us, for example, or the same college or involved in the same types of activities at college, that those kinds of people can be important connections that can help to transform your life. Definitely.
It would be really interesting. You know, I think about you know, when people go off to university and some of the friends that they make their lifelong friends, they stay connected, they visit every year, they see each other they do activities and vacations and holidays together, after their time at university has ended. And it would be really interesting and really beneficial. If we saw our university in the same way that we saw our university friends and state made that connection and continued to make that connection long after we left, you know, if we saw it the same way. And I know that a lot of times that doesn't happen and a lot of alumni organisations, that's one of the things that they struggle with is participation and engagement. So that's one of the reasons why we're here for that conversation today.
And to me, that's where the learning really That's the really exciting learning parts that we can be looking at exploring today about our alumni and our alumni networks and our alumni ness, our alumni identity that we have in ourselves. So we have to identify first as being members of the alumni community in order to really be able to, to be able to connect with all of these really exciting opportunities that are available to us. And what I would say is that what you said is really interesting, yes, we do all have like maybe those classmates, the former, you know, friends that we keep in touch with those who are really close ties. And you know, a lot of that research, you know, including, you know, you'd be familiar with Mark granovetter, his research around the strength of weak ties, it's a, you know, kind of a seminal study in the 1970s, where he talks about how these weak ties the people that you're not connected with on a regular basis, that might be acquaintances, or you know, people that are your dormant ties, that people that you would have been connected with many, many years ago, those are the people that are actually can be the most valuable people in your life. And, to me, that's the kind of stuff that is exciting about an alumni network is this idea that you have a shared connection with people. And if you go out and decide to make that leap, and to say, Oh, I just noticed on LinkedIn that this person has, we both ended up going to University of Toronto, or UCD, or whatever the case may be, that's a really exciting leap to be able to make to be able to when you're making that connection with them, to be able to say, Well, actually, that's our shared connection. That's our starting point. And for some people, that's really exciting to say, oh, that person, notice that we have that connection. And that will help to break that ice. And to me breaking the ice is what makes networking really powerful.
Yeah, definitely. So my research was on volunteer identity and formal and informal learning and leadership through volunteering. And I interviewed people who attended higher level education. And while many of them volunteered actively, throughout their university, or in their college years, they've never actually considered the importance of going back to give back or to volunteer there after they've left. If you could give them one piece of encouragement to do that, what would it be?
I think one of the things is to think about, you know, what kinds of mutual beneficial proposition that that can bring. So they obviously enjoyed volunteering, that's part of the reason that they got involved and engaged as a student. And there might have been other reasons to get involved in volunteering, like maybe to build their skill set, you know, before they decided to embark on a particular career path. And you know, as they go through different touch points in their life, and throughout their lifespan, there are other kind of touch points where these things are important, too. And so what I would be saying is, you know, think about what you might get out of, you know, providing those kinds of opportunities within the university, you know, you can connect back in so many exciting ways. And that can provide students with relatable role models, that's a really important one, this idea that, well, you know, you you were an exciting, you know, and passionate volunteer. And you can now go back and talk about what that experience was like, you can go into the classroom, you can talk to prospective volunteers, for example, and it might only take a little short snippet of your time, but it's that opportunity of being able to inspire others. And there's a lot of research out there, including some of the research that George Sanchez has done in the US where he talks about the idea of relatable role models in the classroom and on campus, and how that can help people to decide that they can do things too. And I think that that's, that's where we can kind of think, ah, we can have a real impression on people. And at the same time, we're building our leadership skills. So as you go through life, as you build more and more of those leadership skills, that's the exciting part that you can build, while you're you get back engaged with your alma mater is those kinds of opportunities to connect in the classroom, but also to connect maybe with boards or committees and get involved in, in the governance of the university. And there are so many these opportunities to do that. And it allows you to kind of keep building that CV, that resume that you're wanting to do, but also to have that really nice feeling inside to be giving back.
Definitely. And you talked a little bit out there about about leadership and how we grow in our leadership. And, you know, as we grow and go through our various, you know, experiences along our lifespan, and why do you think that alumni should get involved in formal and informal learning opportunities once they've left university?
Oh, there's so many good reasons and I just, you know, mentioned The one around the relatable role model, which I believe is one of the, the kind of the fundamental ones is that this is a really good opportunity to allow people to see people like themselves. You know, so if you come back into the, into campus or you know, you're being din, and you're talking about your experiences and in your life, whether that's your career experiences, people are getting to kind of say, Ah, that could be me. And that's a really, that's a really good reason to decide to want to, to get involved. The other one is, of course, is to be able to lend your expertise and your experience in the field. So whatever area that you're working in now, there is an opportunity to be able to, to take that expertise that you've gotten, and to be able to help it reflect back into the curriculum. We forget, sometimes that people that work in the academic world, sometimes don't always have that, you know, that really recent experiences working in the field and things moving so quickly, especially in these COVID times. And so it's an opportunity to say, Well, I can actually tell you what it's like to work in the trenches to work in this kind of field. And I can bring it into the classroom, but I can also help you to shape the kind of curriculum that can help that help the next generation to make things better. And that includes identifying the right kinds of assignments that might be able to, you know, to help with the curriculum development around assignment building, it can be around designing, designing projects, or working with students on projects. And there is just something very satisfying, I'm thinking, well, these are people that I could be scoping as the next talent for my, for my company, that's also like a bonus. But in fact, also the idea that I'm contributing back to the next, you know, phase of people, just the way that other people contributed back to my education. So it's kind of a little bit of that, that giving back piece that other people have done this before me. And to me, that's the pure definition of philanthropy, this idea that, that we're all in this, to be able to give back for the greater social good.
You know, it's really interesting that you said that about the, the, you know, academics sometimes getting so caught up in, in theory, you didn't actually say it that way. But that's what my little ears heard was, you know, the idea that academics sometimes get so caught up in, in teaching theory, that they actually forget about practice, and they forget about the practical, and how important it is for alumni to be able to come back and to, to give that practical advice to give, you know, that practical and practice perspective so that it's not lost. So it's not a lost in theory, and then, you know, students who go get to graduation, having received nothing, but theory then don't actually know how to operate out in society, when it comes to, you know, building their their CV and, you know, preparing themselves for work in the real world and that kind of thing. So that was really interesting point that you made, that really, really resonated with me. So let's talk a little bit more about your work. And in your your past experience, your own past experience. And then also what made you take the leap of faith to start your own consultancy business?
Wow, where do I start? So I have been a curious researcher for a very long time and a curious alumni strategist and scholar. So I started, I started life, you want to go way back, I started. I grew up in the Toronto suburbs. And I had the, I guess, the privilege to be able to grow up and my dad went to St. St. Michael's college at the University of Toronto, I was very curious to see how his university experience really impacted his life in so many positive ways. And I followed in his footsteps. And I also went to St. Mike's at the University of Toronto, and I realised that you know, what he received out of the experience, the networks, the way that he was able to connect us first in his family to go to university. That was something that was really powerful for him to be able to, to become an educator himself. So he became a teacher, and eventually in school leadership, and I thought, wow, more people need to see that there was a power to, to how you connect with people. And these are the people in the social capital that you build is what helps you throughout your life. It's not just about the studies that you do in the classroom. And so as I went through university, I had a super involved experience. And I got a job before I graduated at the university and I realised that a lot of my friends didn't and they struggled after universities try to find their careers and try to find what they were going to After graduation, and I kept saying to them, well, you actually you should connect with this person. And you should connect with this person who also is an alum here. And I found that I was trying to connect people to either things that were actually happening at the university or with other alumni. And I thought, this is a really important and powerful thing. Why are more people talking about this, and this is how this is decades ago. Now, Shelli. So I started to get very curious. And when I moved to Ireland, almost 20 years ago, I decided that I was going to do my studies in this area. And I studied alumni relationship building, I did my doctoral studies at the University of Sheffield, in higher education looking at this area, at the time, there was a dearth of information. And there's still I would argue, in the academic world, quite a dearth of information around alumni connection, there's not a lot out there. And there's not a lot of academics that are talking about this as a powerful way. And that was part of the reason why I decided to write my book, and why I wanted to show an argue, I guess, on the importance that alumni can place across the entire institution. And so that's where my where my, I guess my interest lies. And that's where I decided that I really wanted to work with organisations with universities, I work with governments, government agencies, to build on, you know, what is alumni potential within their organisations and how they can help to permeate and diffuse that alumni network across their institution, and how powerful that that can that can bring to all aspects of university. And one of the challenges that I often bring to my consultancy clients, or even to people when I'm talking to them is, you know, what would it be like, if you had a lump of you know, if you had all these questions and your strategic plan and all these challenges, how can alumni be the response to that those questions into those challenges that you've presented to yourself in your strategic plan? And most people don't think that alumni are the answers? And I would say, Yes, they are. And that's one of the things that I would work with people to look at.
That's fantastic. Well, of course, you know, we're getting to the point where I'm really excited to talk about your book. And I'm sure you're just as excited as I am to talk about your upcoming publication, the alumni way, I said the full title earlier. And I actually have to say, I find your book, I was one of the lucky ones that got to have a little sneak peek at a pre read of it. And I find your book to be so engaging and really inspiring. In fact, I really find it to be written in a way, like we're both sitting together over a coffee, and you're encouraging me to get involved, to get back involved to get reconnected with my, my, you know, universities, and and how powerful that is. Um, I'd like you to talk about the overview of the book, and who you wrote it for, specifically, and why you feel felt inspired to write it?
Oh, wow, where do I start? This is a long labour of love. And when I went back to talk about my past, to me, that was the kind of the cornerstone and the foundation to why I want to write this book. And I started to think about wanting to write this kind of book, as far back as 2004, and decided instead to embark on doctoral studies, and I'm so glad that I did. Because the real premise of this book, and the alumni way is this idea of a journey, that we spend so much time and energy before we go into university. So you can even think as far back as you know, people that are in kindergarten, or in the very early primary classes, you know, people are thinking about, Oh, we got to get them extra tutoring. And we've got to be able to support them with grinds, to be able to, to, to achieve and to get into college or get into university. So people are, are spending all this time, energy and resources to get into university. And then once they kind of have gone through the system. There's almost a level of exhaustion Shelley that people have, and that it's almost like they come out the other end and they think, Oh, I cannot wait, I've, I've I've achieved what I have, I have that piece of paper in my hand. So that's my ticket is this piece of paper, they think that the degree is their ticket to their future, when in fact, it's it's this lifelong journey and the lifelong connection that they have to the university and to the alumni network. That in fact, is the enriching component of their educational journey. And that's why, you know, I would be arguing that, you know, a lot of this is around the informal and formal learning that you can keep having throughout your life. I'm connected to your university. And I that's the reason I wrote that's the kind of the reason I'm why I wrote the book and also the idea that we have spent a lot of time widening participation in universities. So we want to get more and more people to be able to access education, which is brilliant. But we forget that on their way out. And when they're finished on and they've graduated, that they might not know, just by osmosis that one of the things that they do is to contact people within their social capital within their network, to be able to help them get a job, so they can often feel lost. And so I wrote this book for them, so that they can understand the game that is after graduation, the idea of, you know, what's available to them, the kinds of things that they can do to, to network and to build their network after graduation. But it's also, uh, you know, this was, the whole premise of the book is that, you know, we are all alumni. So we're all in, we're all alumni, and we are all in this. We're not maybe not all in the same boat, but we're all in the same storm, or we're all in that same ecosystem, better to say we're all in the same ecosystem. And so how can we go about helping each other. So whether we are an academic, whether we're an advancement, or alumni professional, whether we are a student, or an alone, or a recent graduate, we're all parts of, you know, the same ecosystem with the same shared experiences? And what can we get out of that experience. And so I want to navigate people through a number of exercises, practical activities for them to kind of discover their alumni self, and to really decide how they're going to build their network meaningfully.
You know, in your book, you ask readers to imagine the relationship between Student Alumni and college and university. And you have for you listed and talk about in depth, the four key traits of the alumni way. And interestingly, the one that I found most interesting, I'm just going to share the first one, because it's you start with something that usually people end with, right? Usually, you think about our thesis or PhD thesis, what's the very last thing that we do? When we finish our thesis, we're asked to give a little reflection to, to pause and have a little reflection. But your first key trait is reflection. And I love that. Can you share those traits briefly with us and tell us some more about them all four of them.
Sure, great. I'm, I guess I've been speaking so much about my book, I forgot about what is the most important tenants. So of course, my book is based on my decade of research around alumni relationships, it is connected to the four key traits of an informed and savvy alum. So how you become someone who can actually really embrace on your alumni Miss in your life and your post graduation life. And how you can is these four key traits which are being reflective, so reflection, curiosity, passion, and generosity. So I do take people through and the reason why I thought it was important to start with reflection was indeed the point I mentioned earlier, around our experience. So far, the idea of going into university can be a long and exhausting experience. And so we we do need that point of reflection when we are at graduation, or even in our early alumni life, to be able to say, Well, what did we get out of our alumni, our university experience? What did we find that was interesting? What did we learn about ourselves? So taking that idea of Carol Dweck, growth, mind and thinking, and think about how we can learn through our life, learn from our challenges, and how those kinds of things are really important. So when it's not? What people often say about, you know, how was university? And the answer is, it was good, it was bad. And instead having an opportunity to have much more of that grey, having much more of that, that time to reflect and thinking about what that experience was actually like to make it a learning experience. So we might have learned about ourselves that we learn better when we're in smaller situations like small group learning as opposed to learning in large classrooms, we've learned that about ourselves that we learn better when we're in an online environment versus being in a classroom, there's lots of things that we could have learned ourselves about how we engage in extracurriculars on campus. So you know, by two by starting with reflection, it gives us an opportunity to say, Okay, well, you know, what are we? What are we going to be doing next? You know, what's the excitement that we want out of our life in the next phase as we kind of, you know, go through our life as an alum, and that's why I started with reflection and then it goes from there through curiosity, passion and generosity.
Absolutely love it. And again, you know, I'm I will so plug this book for you because it's just like I said, it is really like having this kind of conversation. But in a narrative format, it's it that you can pick up and put down, you know, at your leisure and when it's best, but I have a feeling that a lot of people will read it and not want to stop, because I know that was the problem that I had was like, Oh, just a few more minutes, you know, another couple pages, and then I'll get up and do what I need to do. So I just, I know that it's going to be a huge hit once it gets out there on the 30th. So yeah, tell us a little bit more about if you can explain for our listeners, what curriculum based activities are. And then also why more alumni Don't get involved in them in curriculum based activities? Is it fear or something else?
Hmmm, that's a really good question. And I think this comes down to, which is the second trait around that curiosity piece, which of course, I think you can see that
My gentle way of leading you.
It's great leading love it. But it's that idea that, you know, a lot of those curriculum based learning activities can include things as simple as being a guest lecturer in the classroom, it can be sitting on a curriculum committee, where you're being asked to provide, as they call it, industry experience on a committee, to be able to look at a syllabus to look at reviewing quality assurance aspects of a particular course, maybe looking at the assessment for that course, the assignments that are going to be set, maybe being involved in developing some of the project materials, it could also be the idea of getting involved in Bo hat being beamed into the classroom to provide some bringing the theory to life concepts. So you can actually, you know, now with the magic of technology, you can actually, you know, be beaming people in to talk about, well, here's a concept I'm talking to you about. And now here's somebody that can talk about how they can use that, that theory and that concept and how they use it in their in their careers. And so it can be almost like little nano guest lecture response that can happen. And you're asking, you know, why do people not do it? And I think that the number one reason that people don't do it? Well, there's actually two reasons. The first reason is what I like to call the alumni unconscious bias. And why I call it that is that sometimes academics. And you know, we're all guilty of this, I think, in some cases, that we all have had that experience of being alumni and that we have not yet decoupled this idea, again, of this idea of alumni being linked to donations. So we forget that alumni offer our classroom and offer our curriculum so much more. So we have, we have this unconscious bias of our own experience and our own framing of what alumni means in our own life. And we forget that there is all of those people out there that have had a very, you know, positive experience after graduation, and they would love to share it. And that unless they're being asked, they won't also contribute. So that is the other thing. So I think the academics don't maybe realise how central they are and how important they are in this process. And some of the research that I have recently done talks about how alumni won't do something unless an academic actually comes back to them, you know, a professor that they admired, or a lecturer, and that person asks them to get involved. So hearing it from an alumni office is not going to be powerful enough, or it's not going to be compelling enough, they would like to hear it from somebody that they actually had a connection with somebody who inspired them in the classroom. So I think that that's, that's the first reason. The second reason why people don't get involved maybe in some of this curriculum based work is because of that little bit of that imposter syndrome. They think, oh, maybe they could get somebody else. Or maybe, you know, I'm not really the person they should, you know, I'm not celebrated enough. I haven't done enough in my career. And again, this goes back to the whole alumni unconscious bias again, and for this, I say, and you know, a lot of alumni offices are very guilty of this is that they celebrate what is the ultra extraordinary. And so what happens is you have the people who are the CEOs of companies being featured people who've started their own fashion labels, and you have people like that, who are being featured as successful alumni. And what that happens is, is that people that have had extraordinary ordinary experiences feel well, what can I really contribute? They should be getting that person instead the person with the fashion label or the CEO to come into the classroom and talk and not realising that, you know, it's the extraordinary ordinary, that actually can be the most inspiring to people. So that would be I guess, my two reasons why people don't they need to be asked, and they need to be encouraged that what they do is pretty amazing.
Yeah, I absolutely love that and I really hope that there are some alumni organisations out there that are that are listening in and hear what you just said about, you know, the the extraordinary ordinary, I really love that term. Because, you know, ordinary people, ordinary alumni, ordinary grit graduates are doing extraordinary things, and maybe they don't have CEO at the end of their name or PhD at the end of their name, or, you know, that kind of thing. But, but they're doing extraordinary things out in their community, in their society, in their work life. You know, they're, they're advocating for things, and they can be spotlighted and highlighted in so many, you know, areas of the humanities, you know, the social sciences, they could be brought in and talked about their experiences in working, that kind of thing. And I and I love that. And I do think, you know, it goes back to that, that idea of, if you can't see it, you can't be it. And I think that sometimes alumni, like you said, with imposter syndrome, you know, they spend so much time sort of reading through some of the highlights, you know, talking about the CEOs or the, you know, the Uber, you know, popular renowned people, you know, that have written books or done things like that, and, and they forget about, you know, the rest of us folks who are working really hard and really making a big difference. And if we can't see it, if we don't see that, you know, reflected in some of the alumni recognitions, then then we can't be it. So, you know, that's a message I think, in a lesson that I hope that some alumni organisations that you're working with, and that are listening as well take away from that. I love that.
Yeah, I love, and I think it's just important to add to that to Shelley's that it is really important to that, when we're looking at these, you know, bringing in alumni into the classroom, is that how, you know, and in all different kinds of ways so we're having them involved in the curriculum in all different kinds of guises, that it's also an opportunity to look at our diversity, equity and inclusion policies, how that actually connects to, you know, making sure that the the curriculum is rigorously looked at from that perspective. So we have that lens to look at on the curriculum, and that's where our alumni can come in and provide that really rich lens. And that's really key, but also giving our limits kind of really democratising, it really allows us to democratise our education and learning environments for our students. Because it allows us to maybe beam in international alumni from around the world to internationalise the experience for those domestic students or even for other international students that are sitting in the classroom or sitting online, you know, they can actually listen to someone from Hong Kong or listen to somebody from New York, or from wherever, and they can talk about their experiences. And they're getting an internationalised experience without having to go somewhere, because not everybody can go and have an internationalised experience and go on a study abroad, for example, it's just and that's for a lot of a lot of reasons. So this is an opportunity to be able to bring that into the classroom and to provide that level of, of inspiration, but also that a level of, of, you know, that dimension of internationalisation and diversity into the classroom.
Yeah, and that that real global worldview, and that you don't always get in the classroom, you know, just based on theory, and that kind of thing, is really, really important for, you know, for anybody, whether it be formal learning, even, you know, from, from a university level, but you know, on any type of learning level, whether it's self directed, you know, or otherwise, that, you know, trying to reach out and get that global worldview, especially for some of these bigger countries that sort of get lost and locked into their own, you know, world of self and don't realise that there is more of the world out there than just their own country. You know, I say that with that little bit of my tongue in cheek there. And it's really important and, you know, we kind of, you know, put a call to action out there a little bit to, to the alumni organisations. And I also want to go back to something you were saying earlier and put that call to action out to even to the alumni and saying, you know, going back a little bit earlier to what we were talking about when we said that sometimes we get as alumni get locked into the to that thinking that our alumni organisations are only reaching out to us because they want money, but when in fact, there's so much more richness in opportunity to be able to give back and to engage, that doesn't involve money, and maybe you are one of those extraordinary ordinaries that can't, you know, see your way right now and giving back charitably, as far as money goes to your alumni organisation, but being able to give of yourself is a really rich investment to the university to the students, but also Something that that is, you know that giving back does for you as well.
Now we talk about that in my book, as you know, in the generosity section is this idea that you know, when you're involved in networking or involved in connecting with your network, when you decide to take that leap, is that it has to be a given take. So you have to also be thinking about how you are generous yourself and giving back. So I talked about that definition of philanthropy of talking about time, talent, treasure, and tides, and how we can give those aspects, you know, back to our alma mater, and three out of four of those is giving of ourselves, as you said, and it's also giving of our of our learning experience. And it's also giving learning experiences to others. And to me, when you give of your time, because you decided to volunteer as a mentor, well, that's, that's, you know, obviously a, you know, a very fundamental learning experience that you can have with, say, fellow alumni or with students, and I'm a passionate student, a mentor to students, and I love it, I've been doing it for a number of years, and it's a such a gratifying experience. And I learned as much from them as they learn from me, which is really interesting, because I haven't been a student in in a very long time. So I like to understand, how do you do younger students, you know, how do they think how are they you know, navigating through life, so I'm getting as much out of the experience as they are. And then when you look at that talent, and that's the whole thing about giving to the curriculum, and you know, giving back that way. And of course, treasure is the idea of donations that you may or may not decide you want to do. And that's, that's something I do argue and talk about in my book and how it can be. But it should be you in the driver's seat, making that conscious decision on whether or not you want to give charitably that way. And then finally is your ties and how important that you have a network that you can then decide to connect other people to your network. And that is really, really powerful. This idea of being a boundary Spanner, this idea that you can say to someone, I have the perfect person that you should meet, I'm going to make an introduction for you, you might want to set up an informational interview with this person, because you both have a shared interest in x, or you both want to work in this particular sector of work. And and that to me, I think, is we know where, where we get powerful, because of course, it comes back to us. It is that idea of being part of an ecosystem. And that you know, the more that we give in generously in our network is the more that we get back.
Yeah. And you know, it's so funny, because I was trying very gently in many ways to lead you through through your four traits. And you just you just I was sitting here thinking to myself, okay, I'm going to come up with a question to have you talked about your passion, but you ended up talking about your past, because that was the last one, you talked about, you know, we started out talking about reflection, and then you talked about curiosity, and then you talked about generosity, and then you just finished up so nicely on passion, and we can definitely hear and see, you know, your passion for alumni contribution. And, you know, making that part of a lifelong lifestyle for both the university and the student, you know, and the alumni. So perfectly perfect way to sort of bring this to a conclusion. And I just have two more questions for you here. Great, go ahead. And I know you've listened to some of my cup, my podcasts, and you know that I like to ask my guests as we draw to a close if you have any other like recommendations or contact information for anyone who's listening, that would like to find out more about how to get connected with their Alumni Association, or how they can connect better with their, you know, connect their own alumni association with their alumni.
Mm hmm. Okay, well, there's a lot of really good, excellent resources out there. And of course, my book being the number one course you should go to, as a go to resource. One of the things that I would definitely recommend is another new book that happens to be published this year. And it's a book called engaging international alumni as strategic partners. And while it has international alumni in the title, I think that it's quite apt as a book, to allow people who work in higher education to really understand some of those some of those operational things that need to be done in order to to really meaningfully engage alumni. And so I would definitely put that on the list. And that's, that's published by by NASA. And the the co authors are Sandra Rincon and Gretchen Dobson, who are both friends of mine, which is another little plug for their book. Another thing that I would definitely as a resource for people to look at is their will there's a lot of great resources out there. And one of them that really inspired me when I was writing my book is a book by Julia free Ben Fisher. And she wrote a book called who you know, and what I really liked about that book was this idea that in the Book, she talks about that, you know, we, we have these networks that, that we have for ourselves our inherited networks, and that they're very powerful. They are ones like our friends and our family that are very close by to us. But we need to also grow and to allow other people to grow. There, they're there, they're their networks to beyond those boundaries. And that those, those can be the powerful networks that we can have in our life. And so I would definitely recommend her book where she talks about that. And then she's looking at that from across all different levels of education. I think that's why I really like it. And she that some something that's she's connected with the Christiansen indice Institute in the US. And I think that they do some really interesting work where they explore and talk about alumni networks and their power. Finally, I would encourage people to look at a new network that's come out. And it's called Nexus. And it's a network of networks of alumni impact networks. And they are looking at really creative ways on how alumni networks can have impact impact in our communities impact on creating relatable role models in all different kinds of guises. So whether that's primary schools in the global south, or whether it's looking at scholarship winners, or whether it's looking at people who've had a shared experience, because they've been involved in a particular intervention for mental health, for example, and how these can be really powerful. So Nexus is bringing all of those networks together. It's a free network to do join. And it's a really inspiring way to understand how other people see how being involved in alumni can help impact the Sustainable Development Goals, how collaboratively we can work together to do those kinds of things. And alumni. networks are a really powerful place to start those kinds of discussions.
Absolutely amazing conversation, I have been like on the edge of my seat this whole time listening to the things that you've been telling us. And any final words of wisdom or advice before we part ways.
I think one of the ones that someone said to me when I did a presentation the other day that they really liked, and I hadn't thought it was, you know, thought much of it, but they thought it was important was just what I said there a minute ago around, it's, you know, it's who you know. And for anybody who lives in Ireland, they know that this is important to you know, that we'll get get your next job. It's cool. You know, that's really important. But actually, it's on the other hand, it's not just who you know, it's actually who knows you. And that's the idea that how can you ensure that you're on other people's radars? Not so much that, you know, they're on your radar? Yes, that's powerful. But how can you make sure that you've developed a network, so that, you know, other people have you in mind when they they have opportunities, or really exciting things that they know that you will be interested in. And that's, that's where I would, I guess I would be, you know, talking about the potential of, of your alumni network to help you to achieve the life you want.
I absolutely love that. Perfect, perfect way to end this conversation. Maria, it has been an absolute pleasure having this conversation with you today. And I do wish you the very best with the publication of your book. I can't wait to get my hard copy of it. And be able to actually read it and highlight it and make notes in the margins and all those fun things myself, rather than just electronically. So I'm looking forward to that at the end of September. And we wish you the best and and thank you so much for being here today.
Thank you so much. Shelli I really enjoyed it.
I hope that you've enjoyed this discussion on A Dash of SaLT, a space where you'll always find fresh and current discussions on society and learning today. Seasoned with just the right touch of experts in education and a dash of sociological imagination. Please be sure to like and share this episode. And don't forget to subscribe to A Dash of SaLT on Podbean, so that you don't miss the next episode. Thanks so much and we'll chat again soon.