Alumni Return to Give and Guide

Recoonect Spring 10 230x160Alumni Leaders Week began as a pilot program on the Providence Campus in 2006 and is now presented universitywide.

The week of panels, forums and classroom discussions puts students face-to-face with graduates to talk about industry prospects and gain insights from professionals in the field.

The extended exposure gave students a view of what to expect upon graduation and the challenges or obstacles within a particular industry, from those already there.

“Making the right career decision after graduation is a stressful situation, so feeding the students the right information benefits them immensely,” explains William Strynkowski ’83 about his reasons for returning to campus.

A graduate of the College of Culinary Arts and executive chef for Restaurant Associates and Cooking Light magazine, he understands the value of the exchange and the setting. “It’s a great opportunity for the students to sit and ask questions in a very unpretentious way.”

“The benefit to students comes from the fact that someone in the audience shares the same dream of achievement [we] alumni did when we were students,” says Bobby Fitzgerald ’93, Charleston Campus graduate and director of operations at White Chocolate Grill Inc.

For Fitzgerald, being asked to come back to share those experiences had an added bonus. “Being able to share my life and business experience since graduation with tomorrow’s leaders, and seeing their response is re-energizing. I get as much out of it as the students.”

Strynkowski was impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication of students and alumni on campus for the College of Culinary Arts day. “[Alumni Leaders Week] focuses on what JWU is all about — the past, the present and the future. Giving back to the students is key to their success.”