Tasha Paul knows all about the influence Calvin alumni can have on encouraging young people toward Christian liberal arts higher education.
As one of Calvin’s associate directors of admissions, Paul has been recruiting ethnic-minority high school students for the summer pre-college experience, Entrada, for over two years.
From the beginning, Paul decided to involve Calvin alumni in identifying likely students and sent many grads a nomination form so they could connect Calvin with prospective young scholars. The results were striking.
“Alumni, along with other community supporters, came through with a great response,” she said. “Entrada enrollment has benefited from their numerous referrals, and now Entrada is on the radar screen of many more people. Now we get calls before we’re ready with the applications.”
This fall, the admissions office rearranged administrative duties and Paul volunteered to shift her emphasis to develop and implement an organized alumni admissions support program.
The title of this new endeavor: Alumni Admissions Support Network (AASN).
“We decided in the admissions office to make certain that multicultural student recruitment was everyone’s job, not only mine. That’s an important step and it allowed me to move into alumni volunteer efforts,” Paul said.
Paul came to Calvin from the Grand Rapids Public Schools where she taught first grade. Her introduction to the college came through her service as an Entrada academic coach in 1997 and 2002.
“I became interested in working in higher education as I watched Calvin professors interact with students in the classroom,” she recalled. “I especially remember a political science class where I saw the light bulbs going on after the students grasped the content. The prof inspired the class to become involved in some way in the political process because it was part of the Christian life.
“I wanted to help more students get the Calvin experience,” she said.
As a key member of the leadership team in the admissions office, Paul is now organizing college resources and procedures so it will be clear to alumni how they can help recruit students.
“There’s a natural love for the institution from alumni – the passion is there,” she said. “I’m going to give them an outlet for that by formalizing the networks already in place.”
Traditionally, alumni have assisted Calvin in many ways: college fairs, student receptions, group visits, alumni chapter scholarships, alumni testimonial letters (now done via e-mails) and referrals, as well as some phone calling. Those strategies will continue, but in a more structured format.
“All of this effort will be under one roof,” Paul said. “We now have a Web site up with a lot of information and on-line training, an 800 number for direct communication (1-877-526-AASN), and we’re planning an on-campus training session for this fall.”
Paul sees this new initiative as a way to make support of Calvin’s admissions effort part of the fabric of the alumni community – as something alums simply do in their daily lives. An alum could be involved as an individual or as part of a chapter, church or school effort.
Perhaps some alumni will be deeply involved on an annual basis; others may choose a one-time collaboration.
“We consider alumni to be the eyes, ears and voice of Calvin wherever they happen to live,” said Paul. “They are ambassadors of the school and we want to give them the tools they need to be effective representatives.”
Alumni, parents and friends interested in being a part of the new AASN endeavor can send an e-mail message to Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the phone number listed in this article.
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