For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, Boston University’s colleges held 98 alumni weekend events with a turnout of over 2,700 graduated students this past weekend.
“We were more thoughtful with what we were offering to folks, giving them points of pride in their own school and college, but also opportunities to come together as one BU that really made a difference,” said Danielle Lueger, executive director of Development and Campaign Events for the University.
This year, there was a record turnout of alumni — the most the University has ever had for alumni weekend, Lueger said. The weekend kicked off on Thursday with a BU Marine Program Lab Tour Showcase and finished with a Class of ‘73 Black alumni worship service at St. Paul AME Church on Sunday.
Lueger said they held new events to build “Terrier pride,” including the Terrier Fun Run, a 5k held on the Charles River esplanade, and the Back to BU festival on the BU Beach which featured music and games for attendees.
“I’m just looking forward to taking the lessons we all learned this year of the first year back solely on campus, no hybrid events, and building towards next year,” Lueger said. “I think we have a lot to build for next year.”
Lueger said the weekend celebrated the College of Arts and Sciences’ 150th anniversary and honored the Class of ‘73, called the “Golden Terriers,” for their 50th year reunion.
Lueger said one of the biggest events of the weekend was the 75th Best of BU Alumni Awards held on Saturday night on the 17th floor of the Computer and Data Science building, where they awarded “the highest honor” an alum can receive from the Alumni Association.
“It was really exciting to be in the room and see the videos and prepare for people and hear their acceptance speeches,” Lueger said. “It was definitely a capstone of the weekend for all of us.”
Mariette DiChristina, dean of the College of Communication, said COM ran a Black Media Symposium during the weekend, which highlighted the work of black media professionals across the communications industry.
Erica Hill, CNN anchor and national correspondent and BU alumna, moderated the fireside chats and said hearing stories from previous students like herself can be helpful for undergraduate students.
“I think it’s always great for students to hear from alumni,” Hill, who graduated in 1998 with a degree in journalism, said. “I think it’s great for [students] to get a sense of what your degree can become after you graduate.”
Hill said BU has been reaching out more about alumni events and in different cities around the world.
“BU has such a big international student population, which is what I loved about BU actually, and in turn has such a large international alumni population,” Hill said.
DiChristina also collaborated on a fireside chat with her advisory board which was held at COM on Thursday. A panel of alumni discussed their careers and fielded students’ questions.
“It is not a formal alumni weekend event, but it happened to contain alumni and it was a fantastic discussion,” DiChristina said. “I really felt so grateful and lucky to be in the room with our wonderful students and our wonderful alums.”
Hill said she is very proud to be a BU alum, which is a shared sentiment with BU alumni that work at CNN.
“There are a number of [BU journalists alumni] in the world, of this very small world of broadcast journalism,” Hill said. “There are a lot of us at CNN as well, which is a point of pride for all of us.”
Apurva Bhandari, a senior in COM, said she attended the fireside chat and found the discussion insightful for her possible career in the news industry.
“Hearing about different people’s experience in news and how they initiated changes in the industry, how they initiated projects in the industry, that was really helpful to know how to do,” Bhandari said. “The different, diverse backgrounds all the speakers were from and how they each [reached] the very accomplished positions they had was really interesting.”
Sofia Harris, a sophomore in COM and the COM student government president, also attended the chat. The talk helped alleviate her doubts about finding a career in her field of study, film and television.
“To hear the alumni talk about how they were able to become successful in their field was super inspiring,” Harris said. “They kept reminding us to just work hard and that things will work out which brought me a sense of comfort.”
DiChristina emphasized students connecting with alumni and encouraged students to take advantage of these events throughout the academic year.
“There’s nothing like meeting somebody in person,” DiChristina said. “It’s a terrific opportunity to meet somebody really nice who might give you a good word of advice or at least encouragement, which we could all use a little more of that.”