Recent grads gather to tackle shared issues

by Gavin Wilson
Staff writer

Think of it as the Alumni Association -- the Next Generation.

A group of recent grads has banded together to form the UBC Young Alumni, a branch of the Alumni Association devoted to offering services and activities that meet the needs of those who have graduated within the past 10 years.

"We're trying to meet the particular needs of this generation," says Dheena George, the Young Alumni's vice-president.

"Times have really, really changed. For example, how to deal with a student debt load is not an issue that was faced by older alumni.

"Our goal is to not only keep young alumni connected to the university, but to connect them to each other so they can work together on issues that are important to them," says George, who graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Commerce and now works in Vancouver at the executive search company Caldwell Partners AMROP International.

High on the list of these issues are career development, mentoring, networking and surviving in today's tough and highly competitive business world.

"There is a greater demand for mentoring because job security is minimal and economic realities are much more stark. These days, your employer doesn't guide your career along," says George.

While the core group of the Young Alumni is small, the potential for membership is enormous. More than 60,000 of UBC's alumni have graduated in the past 10 years.

"Haig Farris, who is president of the Alumni Association, has been very supportive, and members of the business community, especially if they're UBC alumni, are also very keen about it," says George.

The UBC Young Alumni's next event is a breakfast meeting June 5 at the YWCA that features UBC President Martha Piper and UBC alumnus Peter Ladner, publisher of Business in Vancouver.

Other events in the works include a round-table discussion to identify issues faced by new grads. The session could potentially bring young alumni together with representatives from the high-tech sector, UBC Career Services and Continuing Studies.

The Young Alumni are also reaching out to other organizations, such as the Vancouver Network of Young Professionals.

For more information, contact Kristin Smith at the UBC Alumni Association, 604-822-8643, e-mail, or visit the Web site at

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