On 16 November 2023, the SMU Office of Alumni Relations (OAR) held a gathering to appreciate and celebrate the contributions of SMU’s alumni volunteers – just one of the many ways that the University’s alumni constantly step up to give back to the SMU Community.
Giving the welcome address, Ms Florence Neo, director of Alumni Relations, thanked the alumni for their contribution in time, talent, ties, and testimonials to the SMU community.
She also shared the new OAR Vision – to create an engaged and valued alumni community supported by OAR, which contributes towards SMU’s success. OAR has also updated its Mission, which is based on three main points: to build a broader and stronger alumni family; to enable capability and capacity building and support the University’s alumni in their lifelong development; and to catalyse ideas related to industry, innovation, internationalisation, and integration in alignment with SMU’s aspirations.
During her speech, Ms Neo encouraged the audience to engage OAR, and highlighted the diversity of volunteer opportunities at SMU. Alumni were also introduced to the new Alumni Smoo Smoo mascot, drawn with a degree scroll and wearing a mortar board to signify it has graduated.
The gathering was held at Hopscotch, Gardens by the Bay, and the evening was abuzz with a lively energy and engaging conversations. Faculty, programme directors and school representatives who work closely with the alumni volunteers also attended the event.
“We have an SOA Alumni advisory board, two active Alumni groups, and alumni who help us to conduct admission interviews,” said Professor Gary Pan, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Admissions and Student Development at the School of Accountancy (SOA).
“SMU has benefitted greatly from the industry experience that they bring to the table.”
A meaningful activity with new lessons to be learned
SMU’s alumni volunteers give back to the SMU community by leading various Alumni groups, helping to organise class reunions, and providing students and younger alumni with mentorship. Some of these volunteers also serve on alumni councils and boards, an experience which many find rewarding and meaningful.
Ivan Chang, who was from the Bachelor of Business Management (BBM) Class of 2014 said, “Volunteering is very meaningful to me. It allows me to be grateful for the opportunity that was given to me. It can be something small – like helping a junior over a LinkedIn message.”
This was a sentiment shared by other volunteers like Olivia Griselda, from BBM Class of 2012, who ruminated on how learning can be found even in helping others. “I think [my volunteer journey] has been very enriching. I learn a lot just talking to my mentees, hearing their experiences, and learning how I can be most useful to them.”
Overseas SMU alumni help the SMU community beyond our shores as well. Overseas alumni volunteers serve as leaders and executive committee members in 15 Overseas Alumni Chapters (OAC) and as Overseas Alumni Representatives in 11 countries. They work alongside SMU’s Overseas Centres in Jakarta and Bangkok to engage SMU alumni living in the respective countries.
For any alumni who are interested in volunteering but are unsure how to contribute, Ian Chong, an alumnus who graduated from both the Master of Science in Applied Finance and Master of IT in Business programmes, has some words of encouragement.
“If you’re afraid that you might not have what you deem as requisite experience, I urge you not to keep feeling that way,” he says.
“Just simple words of encouragement or sharing of what you did to get your first job, or how you navigate through your own personal problems to get them resolved, would go a long way in helping our students to grow personally and professionally.”