Homecoming isn’t just for high school students – it’s for Trinity alums too. This Saturday marks the annual Alumni Weekend, an opportunity for graduated students to return to campus and see the many ways clubs and departments they were involved in have changed.
Michaela Knipp is one of the youngest alumni on campus, graduating just this May. “I still know a lot of the students on campus. It’s been fun seeing familiar faces around, but I’m also in a very different role,” Knipp said.
Knipp works in the admissions department, something she wanted to do since landing a job her first year in the application filing room.
“I wanted to work in higher education, and with prospective students to try and find the right fit for them because Trinity was the right fit for me,” she said.
Alumni are important not only to their fellow graduated Tigers but also to new community members.
“We also use our alumni in a lot of our recruitment in efforts in the sense that they can talk about their experiences, and prospective students love to hear about them,” said Knipp.
Since Knipp graduated so recently, the people she graduated with are more like friends than fellow alumni.
“I’m excited for this weekend because I’ll get to see the friends I graduated with who I haven’t seen since graduation, even if it has only been half a year,” Knipp said.
Another recent graduate, Megan Kruse class of “˜14, took some time to develop professionally before she returned to work for Trinity.
“I worked at a nonprofit called ArtPace downtown for about two years, and I did grant-writing, development, I was a liaison to the city government to talk about funding, pretty much all the non-art related jobs,” Kruse said.
Working in the Dean of Student’s office now, Kruse has learned more about this world that didn’t exist for her as a student.
“I mostly interacted with the faculty and the occasional staff member. We’re almost like this sort of ghost army who’s working to make sure that everyone is getting what they need done,” Kruse said.
Kruse joined a sorority and stays in touch with others interested in nonprofit work or art like she is.
“At Trinity, I think that though you graduate, you still have an awareness of what people are doing. It’s a small enough school so you can keep up with where people are, and Alumni Weekends really help,” Kruse said.
For Dr. Heather Haynes Smith, professor of education, Trinity has been a significant part of her entire life. Smith graduated in 1997 with her undergrad and in 1998 with her M.A. in Teaching; her husband is also a Trinity alum.
“We didn’t have cell phones, the computer lab was in Halsell and you had to walk all the way there to use it. We also just got email when I was a student; I still have my original Trinity email account.”
Smith stayed active in Greek life as a student, so contact with her sorority sisters has strengthened her connection with fellow alumni.
“The transition [to teaching] was great. I still had a lot of weekends with my Trinity friends all over Texas, we did a lot continuing our Trinity experience and we still get together and travel just about every year,” Smith said.
Alumni like Mark Lewis, a professor of computer science, especially look forward to this reunion weekend, which will also mark his 20th graduation anniversary.
“It wasn’t that odd, and I had the advantage of knowing the campus. Some people wonder about the interaction with your former professors now as colleagues, I didn’t find it that odd either. The only thing that was challenging was learning everyone’s first names,” Lewis said.
Many of the people Lewis was close with during his time at Trinity now live very far away, such as his roommate who resides in Paris. Alumni Weekend, however, allows attendees to build new connections.
“Even if you’ve never met someone before, this one connection opens the door to great conversations about the faculty they had and experiences shared. I don’t feel that any of my friends who went to state schools or even smaller liberal arts college have had the same experience,” Lewis said.
Events like Alumni Weekend bring together people who, though they may have had very different individual experiences while in college, are united by the memories of attending Trinity.