Honors club connects students with alumni in their field

MHCAA officers stand around cardboard cutouts of Dixie and Peter Mahurin, the namesakes of Mahurin Honors College, on March 1. The cutouts were part of the clubs MHC Naming Day, an event held in honor of the donors. Dixie and Peter could not attend this year’s event due to COVID-19, so officers chose to improvise.

The Mahurin Honors College Alumni Ambassadors is an organization that connects honors college students to alumni and helps students develop professional skills. 

Stephanie Hammons is the office coordinator of the Mahurin Honors College and the advisor of MHCAA. Hammons said the purpose of MHCAA is to help students connect with alumni, specifically alumni in their career field.

“The purpose was to connect our former students back to our current students,” Hammons said. “They are kind of paying forward, the experience that the alumni had when they were at the college.”

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The organization is planning to develop a mentorship program to connect current students with alumni working in the same field.

“They help them kind of navigate our current students kind of navigate through their collegiate career and possibly on especially one of the things that we plan to set up is a mentorship program,” Hammons said. “So, they can either mentor through the academic field, or they can be a mentor for career goals.”

MHCAA started in 2018 but due to personnel changes, this is the first year that the organization is officially running. 

“Unfortunately, WKU went through a lot of personnel changes and there was a reduction in force and the person who was in charge of this group was one that was [in] a position that was eliminated,” Hammons said. “Last spring, Dr. Cobain said ‘I think we’re ready to start building some more community again,’ and so we decided to do the alumni ambassadors.”

MHCAA has held several events, including an opportunity for students to sign cards for the donors. On March 30, the organization is having a speaker series with a former grad student. The event will be held both in-person and via Zoom.

“We are holding a Young Alumni speaker series,” Hammons said. “This spring, we were able to co-sponsor a speaker with [another] Honors group. On March 30 we’re having Sarah Schrader, she’s a former grad student. She was a biology student, as well as an honors student and Chinese flagship student who is on March 15 defending her dissertation.”

Any member of the Mahurin Honors College can apply to become an alumni ambassador as long as that student can dedicate three hours per week.

“If you’re a member of the college you can apply to be a member of the alumni ambassador,” Hammons said. “The only thing that we ask you to commit to is three hours a week. If you’re not able to commit to that then it wouldn’t take you out, but it wouldn’t make you as strong of an applicant.”

Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy