Rafael Rodriguez ’07 was excited by the success of the recent Afro-Latino Alumni and Alumnae Association (ALAA) Weekend, which sought to foster ALAA presence in the HWS community, reunite alums and form meaningful connections with current students. “To see students so involved and forward thinking really made it all worthwhile,” remarks Rodriguez, the association’s president.
Amongst the weekend’s activities were an ALAA board meeting, a state of the Colleges review with President Mark D. Gearan who discussed the current status of HWS, and ways that ALAA can continue to be actively engaged in the HWS community in the future, and a symposium for current students. The weekend coincided with the HWS Day of Service, which gave alums the opportunity to give back to the greater Geneva community as well.
During the weekend, alums reminisced about their days on campus and spoke with students about the current happenings at HWS during a social mixer catered by Geneva restaurant The Leaf Kitchen – owned by Tatiana Bruno ’05 and Jack Woolfrey ’07. “A lot of students in the social justice clubs joined us, and shared what they are doing and how far they have come since we were students here,” says Rodriguez. “It was amazing; it reenergized us.”
“The biggest highlight for me was the mixer,” says Yuliana Baez ’13, who attended all of the ALAA events of the weekend. “It was the point in the weekend where everyone who had participated in the events was able to sit down and just socialize and have fun. It can be a little nerve wracking to meet new people, but we all felt comfortable and let loose.”
A post-graduation symposium was held on Saturday morning hosted by a number of alums who hold successful careers in the for-profit and non-profit sectors, as well as alums prospering in graduate school. “When we asked alums to speak we made sure that we sought alums from as many different fields as we could, to show that every path is important,” says Rodriguez.
Horace Allen ’85, founder and chief executive officer of Legacy Creators, which seeks to help under represented men of color succeed, opened the floor with words of inspiration for students and alums alike.
Other speakers included Lenin Guzman ’05, analyst at Pepsi Beverage Company; Silmarie Reyes ’05, a teacher at Geneva High School; Annerys Rodriguez ’06, consultant in Financial Services at MetLife; Nathalie Rodriguez ’07, a JD candidate at Fordham University and legal clerk at Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C.; Rafael Rodriguez ’07, Ed.M in Higher Education Administration from SUNY University at Buffalo; Gregory Tull ‘ 07, young adult career advisor for CAMBA; and Tara Ware ’08, who received her M.S. in science education for 7-12 at City College of New York.
“Students could see the variety of careers and opportunities available, and they could also see that there are many alums of color who have attended the Colleges and succeeded,” posits Rodriguez. “The students see that they have networks in this smaller, infinity group; people who continue to be successful, with whom they can build a connection and rely on for advice.”
In the photo above, alums meet with students to does a variety of career fields on Saturday morning.