If the students who attended the Chapel convocation Jan. 26 did not know what the National Association of Wabash Men was when they walked in to hear the talk by alumnus, NAWM board member and Class Agent Eric Rowland ’86, they did by the time they walked back out on the Mall.
Rowland first explained that they are already members of the Association, and then he explained some of its goals:
- Advancing the interests of Wabash College;
- Cultivating the relationship between alumni and current students;
- Spreading "the fame of her honored name;
- Helping fellow alumni, including the trustees, raise money and other support for the College.
"Membership is free," said Rowland, "and it is life-long." We hope you will join in a regional association wherever you are after graduation because are some of the most fun and interesting ways to be part of Wabash.
He told the students of ways the National Association of Wabash Men works with the College officials to implement the Strategic Plan for the College. Alumni are especially important in bringing students to campus to enroll. In fact, fully 40 percent of this year’s freshmen are alumni referrals. Alumni also play an increasingly large part in the activities of current students, such as internships, job counseling, interviewing, and career advice. If follows, then, that alumni also play an important role in what students do when they become alumni themselves. The advice and assistance never end.
As Rowland pointed out: "Throughout your life, whatever you need, somebody from Wabash will know how to help you get it - and will help you get it."
He went on to say getting to know as many people on campus as possible is the best way to begin these important connections: students first, but alumni, too.
"When I was a student, I didn’t know what to make of the alums who came back to my fraternity house. I used to think they didn’t have much of a life if they wanted to come back here. It was only later I realized that it is almost always the busiest, most successful alumni who are here to do the most for the College. They realize Wabash played a big part in their success and they want to pass along the opportunities to following generations."
Rowland was recruited directly to Wabash by Barney Hollett, a 30-year member of the Wabash Board of Trustees, 10 of which he served as president. "I was headed to Purdue to study engineering and already had my room assignment," recalled Rowland," when Barney persuaded me to come to Wabash. It was one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve never regretted it."
As testament to the longevity of Wabash friendships, Rowland told a story that brought a roar of laughter from the crowd. When he was still a student, a friend was married after a rousing bachelor party. In fact the party was so much fun, the original participants have re-enacted every year now for 22 years.
"The party has far out-lasted the marriage it originally celebrated," he said by way of explanation, "but we have a great time together still."
"Networking is the magic word," Rowland concluded. "Network. Network. Network. Start now and keep networking with Wabash men all your life. This College is always a great resource for you."
Cantrell is a senior writer for Wabash College Public Affairs.