By Lauren Foote
Pete’s Pride celebrated their first year last Thursday, shortly after registering their 1,000th volunteer.
Jim Tressel, president of YSU, founded Pete’s Pride on July 11, 2014 with the initial goal of creating connections and developing networks between alumni and students.
The organization is composed primarily of volunteers. Heather Belgin, the assistant director of alumni engagement, serves as the head of the organization and is the only one paid for her time.
According to Tressel, that is a lot more than what was expected at the beginning of the project, even after employing similar programs at other schools.
“I felt that the community and the alums [at YSU] had a deeper passion for their school,” Tressel said.
Belgin said it began from tapping into the alumni society and expanding. The project has grown from there into what it is today.
“At the beginning of this project, we were just sending our correspondence, reaching out to students and gathering volunteers. That was the main focus, getting people involved, but now that we have reached that goal we can expand our plans further,” Belgin said
The main focus of the organization is to recruit future students, mentor current students and engage with the alumni. Pete’s Pride helps with recruitment initiatives, such as a letter campaign in which 4,000 handwritten letters were sent to prospective students speaking about the YSU experience. They are goodwill ambassadors that are here to help past, present and future students and their parents and make everyone feel welcome and involved.
Members of Pete’s Pride are mostly alumni and friends of the University. Their main goal is to create connections with current and future students and get them involved in the YSU community.
Belgin said one of their future goals is to work on a new software mentoring program.
“Students will be able to log in and work with a Pete’s Pride member in any capacity that they need,” Belgin said. “They can search in the database for anyone in their career field. They would connect online and hopefully meet face-to-face, and the students can get professional mentoring.”
At the anniversary party, many members of Pete’s Pride discussed what inspired them to become part of Pete’s Pride. Most said it was the interaction they got to have with students.
Catherine Cala, the director of alumni engagement, is one of them.
“The most enjoyable part of being part of Pete’s Pride is the interaction with students. Getting to work with them and give them the wisdom that they need in their college career,” Cala said.
Edward Moore, another alumni, expanded on that.
“Being involved in Pete’s Pride gives me a chance to help students that need guidance. YSU has always been a place where students work hard for the degree that they are getting,” Moore said. “I always wanted to be involved in an organization like Pete’s Pride. I am enthused to be part of something that helps other YSU students increase their experience and expand their studies.”
Robert Pavlik, who works in media advertising, said he was excited about the future mentoring program and the current networking that happens between Pete’s Pride members and current and future students.
“It’s great to be able to give guidance to students. Especially straight out of high school, they need help, I believe, to focus on their career goals early on so as to save on their expense and find a career shortly after graduation,” Pavlik said.
Now that they have reached their member goal, Pete’s Pride hopes to continue to create connections between alumni and students while expanding and evolving into a greater organization.