March 27 , 2006
University grads offer real world lessons
BY eric rangus
A group of Emory alums returned to campus recently to share their post-college experiences with current students through an initiative that aims to strengthen the University’s bond with its graduates while also preparing today’s collegians for life beyond the classroom.
The Professor for a Day program, sponsored by the Association of Emory Alumni, the Emory Annual Fund (EAF) and Arts & Sciences Development, was held during February and March. Seven Emory grads returned to class to talk about where their college degree has taken them.
“The big mission is to get alumni re-engaged with the Emory community,” said Alisa Toney, assistant director of annual giving with EAF, who helped organize the event. “Students and alumni are brought together, but in a more formal and structured way.”
This is the second year for the program, which added Arts & Sciences Development to the mix this year.
Graduates visited classes this year from Feb. 28 to March 2 in Emory and Oxford colleges, Goizueta Business School and Candler School of Theology.
Candace Wagner, a 1981 graduate who obtained a degree in English, is now working as an associate staff technical writer with Scientific Atlanta, a global telecommunications firm. Wagner’s speech, on how to become a technical writer, was not limited to one class—she spoke to about a dozen students during a lecture sponsored by the English department that was held in the Callaway Center’s Kemp-Malone Library.
“It was a delightful and rewarding experience,” she said, adding that she has already contacted fellow Emory alums to encourage them to try it next year. Wagner said the program appealed to her because she wanted her modern-day counterparts to know that they too could put their English degree to work.
“I wanted English majors to know that there are careers [out there] other than teaching or law or other tracks traditionally open to English majors,” she said.
Steve Ahn, a 1991 business school graduate who’s a founding partner of The Abacus Group, addressed a class taught by his former professor, Nicholas Valerio, associate professor of finance.
Ted Daywalt, a 1980 MBA graduate who is president and chief executive officer at VetJobs.com, spoke to a “Political Economy of Development” class taught by Associate Professor Rick Doner.
Chi Chi Okezie participated in the program last year on the Atlanta campus, but this year she traveled to Oxford as a guest of economics Associate Professor Frank Maddox. A graduate of Oxford and Emory, Okezie was the only returning participant.
Several of Emory’s staff attended the lectures, and in the case of theology school graduate Bob Townes’ address, “The Theology and Methodology of Successful Fund-Raising Campaigns in the Church,” the pastor of North Decatur United Methodist Church—himself an Emory alumnus—was in the audience.
Organizers said they hope to grow the program in the future by increasing the number of alumni members who participate.
Toney said feedback about the program has been uniformly positive. She said students enjoyed asking graduates about the future, while alums were happy interacting with the campus community and faculty members were pleased to have had the chance to reconnect with the former students.
“We made certificates of appreciation for the alumni,” Toney said. “One of them
wrote back to tell me he had his on the wall of his office right next to his Emory diploma.”