Chicago alumni, students connect with local business leaders

Posted on Jul 24, 2017 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Chicago Innovation and Entrepreneurship Panel: David Grossman, Todd Holmes and Sherry Scott

More than 40 alumni and 15 current students met July 18 on Michigan Avenue to learn from some of the best and brightest Jayhawk alumni based in the Windy City.

The event, Chicago Innovation and Entrepreneurship Panel, featured a panel of business leaders who shared the stories of their journey with Chicago area alumni. A select number of KU Student-Alumni Network members also attended.

Bryce McMichael, d’08, Chicago Network leader, said “One of the main goals we have in Chicago is diversifying our event offering beyond watch parties for KU games and expand into the careers and lifelong learning space. This event definitely fit the bill in that regard.”

David Hoese, e’86, vice president at Goldman Sachs served as panel moderator, with Todd Holmes c’89, CEO at Liquidus Marketing and co-founder of Goose Island Beer Co., Sherry Scott j’91, president at Gagen MacDonald, and David Grossman j’89, president at Freshii comprising the panel.

“The panelists stemmed from a Presidents Club reception we had last year in which Todd Holmes suggested an event like this,” McMichael said. “David Grossman and Sherry Scott were also added due to their specific entrepreneurial experience, local ties, and fascinating life stories.”

The event was the first of a series highlighting business leaders and entrepreneurs in Chicago. The panel offered advice to students and young alumni on topics such as how to start a business and risk tolerance.

“With 15 current KU students who hail from the Chicago area in attendance, I believe they came away with inspiration and pointers on how to create your own destiny and do the work you truly love,” McMichael said. “I also hope that those who went also came away knowing that their Alumni Association can provide much, much more value than they had originally thought going into the event!”

Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, president of the KU Alumni Association, echoed McMichael’s sentiments for the Alumni Association as a whole.

“We want to do more to directly connect students to industry leaders and showcase the power and reach of the KU degree,” Peterson said. “We must leverage the story of successful alumni to ensure current students have direct and constant access to a powerful network.”

Peterson’s goals were realized for Rebecca Hans, j’18, a Student-Alumni Network member who made an unexpected connection.

“I didn’t expect to know anyone [at the event] but I saw a family friend,” Hans said. “He introduced me to someone who has a connection to the military at KU. My dream job is a military psychologist where I could work with soldiers or their families and help them with mental health issues.”

“This event helped me realize that I can be successful in Chicago. Knowing that I am graduating in the spring, it is comforting to see that KU stays with you forever.”

—Ryan Camenzind

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Three student leaders receive “Judy Rudy” awards

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

The KU Alumni Association offered three outstanding Student Alumni Leadership Board members with Judy L. Ruedlinger Awards of $500 each for spring 2017.

The recipients are Maren Hansen, a junior from McPherson, Kansas; Sarah Heitmeyer, a sophomore from Littleton, Massachusetts; and Emily Carmack, a junior from Lone Jack, Missouri.

The Judy L. Ruedlinger Award honors the first Student Alumni Leadership Board adviser, who was known by her students as “Judy Rudy.”

The award was established to maintain commitment and involvement of past, present and future members of the Student Alumni Leadership Board at KU. The award is granted to those who convey pride in membership, public awareness of the Student Alumni Leadership Board and a sense of permanence, strength and integrity in the organization. Ideally, it also is meant to encourage Student Alumni Leadership Board members to join the KU Alumni Association after graduation and continue contact with the university.

The Judy L. Ruedlinger Award Fund is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU.

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Food, fur and comfort

Posted on Dec 13, 2016 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

SAA Finals Dinner fall 2016
Delicious Italian food, neck massages, cuddly pups and holiday movies are sure-fire ways to reduce stress!

Finals Dinner is the Student Alumni Association’s most popular tradition, and nearly 500 students attended the event on Monday, December 12. Always held on the first night of finals, the event is designed to give students a break from the stress of studying and upcoming exams. All members of SAA are invited to attend, and each can bring a friend.

Students enjoyed the all-you-can-eat pasta buffet and holiday movies in the dining area. Neck and shoulder massages are always very popular, with six professionals from Medissage set up and ready to deliver hands-on therapeutic relief. Many students look forward to this service each semester, and the therapists say they’ve come to know those who return from year to year.

Jerome, Jackson, Curtis and Harley Jane also played their part, though they might have been oblivious to the fact that they were working. To this foursome of therapy dogs, the night involved friendly hugs and belly rubs. Students find that a squiggly, delighted dog is an excellent antidote to stress.

The event is a benefit of membership in the Student Alumni Association, and has been a tradition of more than two decades.

Rock Chalk, and good luck on finals!

—Susan Younger

SAA Finals Dinner fall 2016

Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, all freshman students are provided with a complimentary four-year membership in the Student Alumni Association. Memberships make great gifts for upperclassmen! Visit the Student Alumni Association page on our website for more information.

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Students prepare for game day at Home Football Friday

Posted on Sep 6, 2016 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Home Football Friday
The Adams Alumni Center lawn was full of students Friday as the popular Home Football Friday event returned.

Home Football Friday is hosted by the Student Alumni Association and is held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on the Friday before every home football game. The event is open to all KU students and features a free lunch, music, and giveaways.

A surprised guest made an appearance at the first event of the season: David Beaty, head football coach, stopped by to visit with students.

This season’s Home Football Fridays are sponsored by Truity Credit Union.

Check out pictures from the event in the slideshow below, or click here to view the photos on Flickr.

Home Football Friday Sept. 2

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Truity Credit Union teams with KU Alumni Association to welcome students, faculty, staff

Posted on Aug 30, 2016 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Home Football Fridays
Truity Credit Union
will sponsor the KU Alumni Association’s Home Football Fridays for University of Kansas students as well as six TGIT receptions for faculty and staff on Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters.

“We are immensely grateful for Truity Credit Union’s support of our Lawrence campus events for the KU community,” said Heath Peterson, KU Alumni Association president. “Truity’s participation is especially important as the Alumni Association continues collaborations with faculty and staff across the University and expands the Student Alumni Association with gift memberships for all 2016 freshmen.”

“Truity Credit Union understands the important role KU plays in our community,” said Tim Mock, business development officer for Truity. “Our partnership with the KU Alumni Association will definitely strengthen our relationships with the University’s staff and faculty, and of course, its students.”

The first Home Football Friday lunch for students will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 2 on the front lawn of the Adams Alumni Center, 1266 Oread Ave. on the Lawrence campus. The events, hosted by the Student Alumni Association, will be held each Friday in conjunction with home games throughout the season and will feature free food, beverages, cookies and giveaways.

The Alumni Association will welcome KU faculty and staff to the Alumni Center for TGIT receptions from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 22, Oct. 27 and Nov. 17 during the fall semester and Feb. 16, March 16 and April 13 during the spring 2017 semester. The receptions will include drink specials, snacks and giveaways.

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KU traditions go digital with new app

Posted on Aug 23, 2016 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

KU Traditions App

Student involvement? There’s an app for that.

The KU Alumni Association released a new mobile app this week just for KU students. The app, highlighting KU traditions, is the Association’s second app, joining one dedicated to alumni that launched in May.

The KU Student Alumni Association Traditions app allows KU students to earn points for participating in KU traditions and getting involved in campus activities while at KU. Research shows that students who are engaged on campus are more successful and more likely to graduate on time. KU-traditions-out-screenEngaged students are also more likely to stay connected to their alma mater after they graduate. The KU Traditions app was designed by the KU Alumni Association to foster engagement and campus involvement among KU students.

Built by MobileUp, the app was a collaborative effort created with input from students, alumni and multiple campus offices, including KU Endowment, the Office of First Year Experience, Student Affairs, the Student Involvement and Leadership Center, Student Senate and KU Athletics. More than 50 activities listed in the app encourage KU students to master the following KU traditions:

• Wave the wheat
• Sway to the Alma Mater
• Master the fight song clap
• Fill the stadium
• Join a club
• Meet your professor
• Read the UDK on Wescoe Beach
• Hug a mascot
• Have a Wang burger at the Wheel
• Visit the KU Career Center
• Find a mentor
• Explain Rock Chalk to a non-Jayhawk
• Plus 44 more traditions

Students can complete KU traditions–by taking a photo or entering text–and join the Student Alumni Association (SAA) through the app.

The Association also announced earlier this summer that all fall 2016 freshmen would receive a four-year gift membership in SAA. The gift membership, provided in partnership with KU Endowment, is redeemable through the app and online. The initiative removes financial barriers that might have prevented some students from joining SAA, one of the largest student organizations on campus.

The change also supports university goals to increase retention and graduation rates by encouraging student involvement. The KU Traditions app, along with the gift membership, help position SAA among the strongest student alumni associations in the country.

Learn more about KU Alumni Association mobile apps.

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Students kick off new school year at ’Hawk Fest

Posted on Aug 23, 2016 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Hawk Fest 2016
More than 3,000 students filled Lot 91, just south of the football practice fields, for ’Hawk Fest, the annual kickoff party to the new school year.

The event, presented by the Student Alumni Association in partnership with the Student Involvement and Leadership Center and the Office of First-Year Experience, featured a pep rally, giveaways, a photo booth and free food. More than 150 student organizations set up tables to provide information about their groups for new students.

After ’Hawk Fest, students headed to Memorial Stadium for Traditions Night, where Junior Naismith stole the show—and more than a few hearts.

Watch our slide show below to see pictures from ’Hawk Fest, or click here to view the photos on Flickr. Photos are available to be downloaded for personal use.

SAA Hawk Fest 2016

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Alumni Association partner offers scholarship opportunity to students

Posted on Jan 20, 2016 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Know any KU students who could use extra money for school?

The iModules Scholarship Program can help. Now in its ninth year, the program will award 17 scholarships of $1,500 each for the 2016-17 school year to students of iModules client institutions. The Alumni Association is a client of the Overland Park-based technology company, so students who will attend KU during the upcoming school year are eligible to apply.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Full-time student for fall 2016
  • Attending a school that is an iModules client
  • A minimum “C” grade point average
  • High school, college, graduate and postgraduate students are welcome to apply

How to apply:

  • Create an online account
  • Submit an application form
  • Submit a response to two essay question

Applications are due by midnight (CT) April 1, 2016. Visit for more information and to apply. Two KU students have won the scholarship in the past—you could be next!

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So, tell me about yourself: Interview tips for Jayhawks

Posted on Nov 12, 2015 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Strong Hall Jayhawk

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with KU students while serving on an alumni panel for the University Career Center. The topic turned to the proverbial “elevator pitch,” or how to sell yourself in 30 seconds or less and make a great first impression. Now, I was never any good at baseball, but as a marketing professional, I have learned a thing or two about pitches. This is what I shared with these future alumni.

“So, tell me about yourself.”

The opportunity to answer this question is everywhere, whether you meet someone on Wescoe Beach, the Wheel or in a professional networking setting. In each instance, you have the same opportunity to make a first impression. In an interview setting, however, the stakes are even higher. And so are the odds that this question will be asked. More than 90% of all interviews (probably) begin with this question, and while it might seem as if there is no “right” answer, consider the following.

A typical candidate will usually start by sharing where he’s from before reciting the progression of his career, in chronological order. Sound familiar? It should. This conversation is chronicling the candidate’s resume, which is typically what the interviewer is holding while asking the question! Where you’re from and what you’ve done is certainly relevant to the conversation, so that’s not a bad thing to share. But the goal of the interviewee–and the interviewer–is actually the same: to bring out the person behind the paper. To do this, you need to uncover the motivation behind your experience, and the passion that fuels your purpose. In other words, you need to answer “why.”

One student I met was majoring in math, but it was his passion for sports that motivated his ambition to apply his skills and interest in statistical analysis to understand how teams could improve. Another student hoped for a career in human resources, but it was her passion for working with people that peaked her interest in the field. They shared why they were interested in pursuing their chosen fields, and their experience backed it up. More importantly, I felt like I had gotten to know these students on a personal level.

Sharing what you love can feel like an act of courage, especially when you’re putting yourself out there in front of a prospective employer. But sometimes it takes bravery to just be yourself, and that’s the best advice I could ever offer.

–David Johnston

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SAA members encouraged to begin building professional network

Posted on Oct 22, 2015 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

SAA Networking Night, October 2015

“One thing we all have in common is our Jayhawk network,” Mark van Blaricum told students at the Student Alumni Association’s Networking Night event on October 20.

More than thirty members of SAA attended the popular event, modeled after “speed dating” events, to meet alumni, make connections and learn more about the business world.

Van Blaricum, b’99, l’02, g’08, gave the keynote address at the event, and reminded students that there are many different ways they can gain leadership skills. He has worked as an attorney in various healthcare settings since 2006, serving as the risk manager at a hospital, a compliance officer for a safety-net health insurance plan, as well as practicing law at a small healthcare firm.  Van Blaricum is also a freelance ghostwriter for and other outlets. He has a passion for health and wellness, and gives presentations on health-related topics to groups across Kansas City.

After the keynote, students had the opportunity to meet with alumni in small groups.

Other alumni who participated in the event include:

Kelli Calhoon, e’01, a senior Manager for Ramboll Environ US Corporation, who manages air quality and other environmental permitting and compliance projects for a variety of manufacturing industry clients, including power generation, oil & gas, cement, construction materials, and fertilizer manufacturing. She manages and prepares technical work and has extensive experience with business development and sales in the environmental services industry.

Mark Frutiger, b’01, an Account Manager II—Institutional Servicing for KeyBank, who manages pool loans in the Institutional Servicing group. He works with borrowers, lenders and other stakeholders to make sure loans are in compliance and operating within established guidelines. He is an advocate for the borrower and the lender.

Grant Kollman, c’10, associate director  and investment sales specialist at Berkadia Real Estate Services who focuses on the acquisition, disposition, and advisement of multifamily assets throughout the Midwest.

Tom Larkin, a’09, vice president of development for Flint Hills Holdings Group, LLC, who oversees real estate development sourcing and project management for the state of Kansas and parts of the Kansas City Metro.

Mike Walrod, b’90, a consultant and business coach who helps business owners and executives gain clarity over what they want to accomplish. He collaborates with them on the critical next steps needed for success.

Jerry Younger, e’86, g’92, the deputy secretary and state transportation engineer who provides the executive day-to-day leadership for 2400 employees of KDOT. He is responsible for the effective and efficient management of a 10,000 mile state highway system as well as involvement in other transportation modes (bike/pedestrian, rail, transit, aviation). He also serves as the chief engineer for KDOT.

“As you climb the career ladder, you will be put in charge of people. Their success will depend on your success, ” explained Younger.

SAA Networking Night, October 2015

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