WAVE Magazine 2019 - 2020 - Page 38

The New Face of Engaged Alumni BY T H AT I A N A LOTT A big part of the college experience revolves around social activities, and campus life at JU is no exception. But that sense of camaraderie doesn’t have to stop for those leaving campus to enter the “real world.” Meet Lindsey Craft MBA ’15, Jerail Fennell ’16, and Lucas Meers ’12, three members of JU’s GOLD (Graduates Of the Last Decade) Phin Society, who prize staying connected to their alma mater. Together this unique group of young JU alumni is giving back to the school and community they love, while building and growing a network of professional contacts and lifelong friends. “JU grads are great company,” Meers smiled, as he spoke of one of the many reasons he has stayed involved with JU after he graduated with a BS in Marine Science. “We go out into the world to build our careers and our lives, but often times we don't stop to look at what we’ve accomplished and to reconnect with our old friends and make some new ones.” That’s where the GOLD Phin Society steps in. MAKING CONNECTIONS Along with Meers, Craft is a member of the GOLD Phin Committee that plans and leads key GOLD Phin events in Jacksonville throughout the year. Past events include a cornhole tournament at JU Homecoming, an opportunity to get a professional portrait at a local brewery, and a highly successful networking brunch at Top Golf that raised more than $2,000 for JU scholarships. The group also participates in Big Green Give, JU’s annual Day of Giving, where students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends join together 38 F E AT U R E S to give back to JU students and the Jacksonville community through philanthropy and service projects. “Our events have gotten great attendance and I think a large part of that comes from fellow alumni hosting them,” said Craft. “It’s not just the school putting on an activity, it’s a GOLD Phin – your friend or someone who was in class with you or a friend of a friend. There’s a face linked to the event and that connection can be powerful. Plus it’s less intimidating to network in a group of people you already have a common connection with.” Those networking opportunities Craft mentioned top the list of reasons to join the GOLD Phin Society. “Whether you want to begin your career, switch careers, advance your career, you’re sure to find the people you seek in this community,” said Meers, the Conservation Program Officer at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens & the Okapi Conservation Project. “Just by attending one event, you could meet the right connections to get a job,” added Craft. And she would know. Her connections through JU helped her land a job as Project Manager at Black Knight, Inc. Now she’s passing along those same opportunities to others by being heavily involved with recruiting and the internship program at Black Knight. She leverages GOLD Phin events to help her company find talent. PAY I N G I T F O R WA R D Craft, Fennell, and Meers all agree that they jumped at the chance to become a GOLD Phin because they wanted to give back. To join the GOLD Phin Society, members must give either their class year per month (e.g., $20.18 for class of ’18) or $250+ per year. Their donations make a difference in the lives of other Dolphins, supporting women's educational opportunities, environmental cleanup and campus sustainability, and veteran's programs, to name a few. “Paying it forward is at my core,” said Meers. When he first came to JU from St. Louis, Mo., he struggled his first semester because he was really