So, letting go of undergrad is hard. But being an alumni doesn’t mean that everything simply ends.
While visiting a friend up in Vermont this past summer, she mentioned over lunch how she volunteered in the local alumni network there, of meeting with accepted students and going to alumni events and so on. Feeling a bit nostalgic (and realizing that I don’t want grad school to complete dominate my life, although it’s coming real close), I found myself signing up to be a part of the local chapter of CAAAN. CAAAN is the “Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network”, which is divided up into about 300 chapters and 8000 volunteers who take on the opportunity of evaluating applied prospective students. I figured that I could spare enough time to meet with high schoolers and answer questions they might have about CU, as well as pose a few queries to them for their “evaluation”. To be honest, I remember my meeting being uncomfortable because I was meeting them at the restaurant I worked at in high school, and since they arrived twenty minutes early, I seated them without realizing it was the alum I was supposed to meet with. When they looked at my nametag and asked me if I would be ready to talk about Cornell with them in a few minutes, I promptly excused myself and proceeded to have a royal flip out in the dishroom. Luckily for me, I told my boss ahead of time about the planned meeting, so she took over the register and let me off a few minutes early.
It’s probably a bit peculiar since if someone asked me what I thought of Cornell while I was there, I would have had some lovely comments worth sharing (though not in front of children). Yet here I am, volunteering to meet with fresh and enthusiastic high schoolers and to try and promote a good image of Cornell. Hopefully.
Being new to the whole thing, I attended a meeting at a local hotel that the local alumni association was doing as an orientation for CAAAN. The first thing that struck me when I walked into the room was the realization that I was easily the youngest person there. There were about 15 people, almost all of whom were middle-aged (40 and up) professionals, and as I sorta stopped in the doorway, the local chapter head looked at me and said “[Y]ou must be the new guy. I recognize everyone else here.”
What followed was a passing out of “current facts of Cornell” and some admissions and evaluation guidelines. It became quickly apparent that being the young guy had an advantage. They spent several minutes asking me to describe recent changes on campus and how the new financial aid plan was working and random questions about if some aspect of Cornell has changed in the past 10/20/30 years. For once, this blog proved to be useful on a personal level. I also managed to make several of them feel extremely old when describing the new West Campus houses.
It was different. It felt a little strange, but it felt right at the same time. I may be getting older, but I’m still quite young as alumni go.