BUAA grants build relationships

Libby Darrell, Special Features Editor

On a smaller college campus with a plethora of opportunities and occasions, students may not be aware of every single event, organization or program available to him or her. In addition to organizations and events, however, the University offers several funding awards, which enable students to pursue a passion and share it with the community without the worry of paying for the expenses. One of these funding programs that you may not be unaware of — a hidden gem, in itself — is the Bucknell University Alumni Association (BUAA) grant program.


BUAA’s Mission 

Through its board of directors, BUAA is able to provide funds that support various programs and scholarships for University students and alumni. These grants are offered to those who wish to further the BUAA’s missions of representing alumni and engaging University students with that alumni network, thus promoting and enhancing the University.

Dedicated to bringing alumni and students together, the BUAA hopes to encourage alumni engagement and involvement in the University’s activities. While the BUAA Board of Directors only meets three times a year — early in the year, during Reunion Weekend, and again during Homecoming — its members stay on top of grant applications and the ways in which they can increase alumni and student interactions.

In addition to sponsoring the Sophomore Career Options and Opportunities Brunch and the Junior Year Mock interviews, BUAA provides grants to benefit all involved. The award amounts of their grants range, the maximum being $3,500 for a student or organization. 

“The grant program allows students to network and meet with alums when cost is usually the biggest hindrance in doing so,” Raj Thangavelu ’98 said. Thangavelu has spent his last eight years working with the BUAA. “It also increases the exposure of alumni clubs and highlights the willingness of alums to help students,” he said.

The alumni network of a smaller university such as ours goes a long way in forming connections, especially during career searches. 


The Experience

In the past, the BUAA grant program has been able to provide funds to support a bioengineering program, which brought alumni back to speak to student groups about their field. Additionally, the program funded t-shirts for last year’s “We Brake for Nobody” show in order to promote the performance. And, recently, Unite & Inspire was able to bring 13 of its students to Washington, D.C. to enjoy dinner and a discussion with alumni about their career paths.

Susan Brooks ’02 was one of the alumni in Washington, D.C. who met up with Unite & Inspire. “I loved hearing about changes in academics and life on campus,” she said. “I’m happy to share my experiences after [the University] as well. To be able to do so in a relaxed atmosphere with such a distinguished group of women was fantastic.”

Kaitlin Stansel ’20, president of Unite & Inspire, recognized the benefits of trips like hers to Washington, D.C. “The dinner allowed both members and alumni to form meaningful relationships that could extend into the future,” she said.

Of course, these are not the only career-related alumni events and opportunities. The Center for Career Advancement (CCA) provides sophomore students with externships, during which primarily University parents and alumni host students for a day or two to allow them to shadow interesting fields. In addition, the CCA sponsors a Communications, Arts and Entertainment career fair in New York City, during which current students can chat with more University alumni about their specific career roles and paths.

Evidently, the alumni network is highly useful, not only career-wise but also to merely form relationships and share a commonality with others. And, thus, these BUAA grants work to maintain those strong connections, regardless of the purpose.

BUAA Board Vice President of Finance Barbara Gasper ’76 recognizes that these grants are “a resource that many folks don’t know about and, as a result, don’t take advantage of.” Therefore, it is important that individual students and organizations research the resources available to them to fund nuanced events or trips.


Importance of Alumni

 Emily Bayuk ’21 is the daughter of two former University students. Recognizing the importance of University legacies and the maintenance of alumni relations, she serves as a student member of BUAA. “At a high level, [BUAA] represents the alumni community, engages [University students], and promotes and enhances the University,” she said. “[It] maintains bonds by offering students opportunities to discover personal and future career paths during their four years on campus and afterwards,” Bayuk said.

During the BUAA meetings, Bayuk represents the perspective of current students, as the association strives to maintain the connection between present and past students. Her input is especially important on issues relating to how the University keeps young graduates connected to the University community. 

Additionally, Bayuk serves on the Alumni Relations and Development team, where she “help(s) to keep alumni active members of the Bucknell community by informing them about events they can participate in and ways they can give back to the university.

When asked about the importance of legacies and what that means to her, Bayuk said, “Legacy relationships are important, since they strengthen the bonds to [the University] and other [University students].” As a double-legacy, Bayuk says she already felt “at home” when she stepped on campus first-year for orientation. “I think being a legacy made the transition from high school to the University easier. The first time I was on [the University’s] campus, I was 18 months old. Growing up, my parents would take me and my sister to [the University’s] homecomings, reunions, and other [University] events.” She grew up loving the University’s atmosphere.


How to receive a grant

Looking to help foster this community between current and former University students? Or hoping to fund an alumni event? Find more information about the BUAA and its grant program on the University’s webpage.

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