Annual ‘Dinner With 50’ to connect students, alumni

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Forever Red’s annual networking event, Dinner With 50, will take place Friday, April 20, in the Curtiss Hall Seminar Rooms.

The dinner began in 2013 as a way for students and alumni to connect.

“The event started as a celebration of SVSU’s 50th anniversary, with the goal of providing an opportunity for 50 student leaders to interact with 50 SVSU alumni,” said Forever Red adviser Bryan Crainer. “Recently, the event has settled on keynote presentations from students and alumni to highlight an evening where students and alumni are encouraged to share stories, insights and expand their networks.”

This year’s dinner will feature two keynote speakers, one alum and one student. Saginaw County Circuit Judge Manvel Trice III will serve as the alumni speaker, while the student speaker will be Rebecca Meridith, a soon-to-be graduate of the College of Education.

Meridith recently returned from student teaching in China and will discuss her experience at SVSU and overseas.

Forever Red schedules speakers for its Dinner With 50 event as a way for students to connect with alumni and learn from their experiences.

“Feedback from past Dinner With 50 participants suggested that speakers are the best way to share the SVSU story,” Crainer said. “Both speakers have been asked to talk about how their SVSU experience has prepared them for their careers and to highlight some of the more notable opportunities they had while they were students.”

The event is an important opportunity for students to network and build relationships. Crainer said there are numerous examples of students who have met alumni at events like Dinner With 50 and built relationships that have resulted in job shadowing, internships and job offers.

To Forever Red’s Vice President of the Connect pillar Ashley Youngstrom, the event is a mutually beneficial opportunity for both students and alums.

“Personally, I think that establishing connections between alumni and students is critical to the health of the university,” Youngstrom said. “Alumni want to know what’s happening on campus since they graduated, and having this opportunity to talk to students helps satisfy that desire.”

Crainer advises attendees to be willing to learn and interact with others.

“Students need to approach the event with an open mind and a willingness to reach out to alumni in an effort to expand their personal and professional network,” Crainer said. “The event is ‘just another dinner’ if all they are hoping to get out of it is a meal.”

The event is expected to be a success, with this year’s dinner far surpassing previous years’ attendance goals.

More than 60 alumni and 50 students have asked to attend. In past, the majority of students who attended Dinner With 50 were Forever Red members. This year, that is not the case.

“Perhaps most encouraging thing is that more than half of the students that will be in attendance are not Forever Red members,” Crainer said. “This means that the word is out and that a broader audience will be able to take advantage of the opportunity to meet some of our alumni.”

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