Given the reality of COVID-19 there were no big in-person on-campus events during this year’s recent Alumni Weekend. But there were many, small virtual activities - from a trivia quiz to zoom meetings with current or retired educators - that not only enabled the event to continue but also added an innovative new dimension to it.
Nearly 100 Gibbons Alumni attended the virtual weekend, June 12-15, from the comfort of their homes. Many more attendees than in years past were from out of state and even an alum from Santiago, Chile, joined the fun. That was possible thanks to Zoom, the video conferencing technology that has become a certainty for every school in these uncertain times. View the full list of activities
Francisca Yarur ’76, who has lived in Chile for the past 35 years, said she loved the ‘70s Decade Zoom. “While I have been in touch with some of my classmates, I had not interacted with many on the Zoom call since graduation,” Yarur wrote in a statement. She added that she and classmate, Ida Andruzzi ’76 are working “to make their calls a regular occurrence for our class.”
Marie Hils ’15 also highlighted the benefits of connecting virtually. “I love that the Virtual Alumni Weekend allowed me to participate in Gibbons activities without traveling from my home in Salisbury, Maryland,” she said.
That pleases Associate Director of Alumni Advancement Susan Leigh ’87. Leigh explained that she hopes to add videoconferencing as a component to alumni events moving forward because of the extended engagement opportunities it offers. “It is all about establishing, nurturing, and growing relationships in person as well as virtually," she said.
While reworking aspects of Alumni Weekend, whether this year or in the years ahead, are inevitable, Leigh said, the event’s intent will always remain the same: to foster fellowship, service, and Gibbons pride.
Customarily, service during Alumni Weekend has meant that alums would serve at the Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen in downtown Raleigh. But due to state and local health and safety guidelines and physical distancing measures serving at the soup kitchen was not an option this year.
Instead, alums took to their laptops to nominate Gibbons grads who are essential workers as Crusader COVID-19 Heroes. “We celebrated 25 of these heroes via Twitter on the Monday of Alumni Weekend, which would have been our traditional day of in-person service,” Leigh noted, adding that nominations are still being submitted.
All in all, alums enjoyed the virtual edition of Alumni Weekend. Just ask Washington, D.C. resident Adam Norris ’10.
“From the familiar faces to the focused discussion, the Gibbons Virtual Alumni Weekend Zooms were a great way to reconnect with my Gibbons roots and find out what’s new with the school,” Norris said.