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Alumni reaches out to former TJC students

Graduation usually means moving on, but at TJC, former students can stay involved through the Alumni Association.”We help keep them (alumni) connected and reminded of their time here at TJC,” Director of Alumni Relations Betty Briggs said. The alumni have five chapters located throughout the state and one chapter on each coast. They are in Tyler, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York City. “Our former president Dr. William Crowe was strong on setting up chapters in areas with greater concentrations of former TJC students,” Briggs said.In the Tyler/Smith County there are over 14,000 alumni. There are 5,000 in Houston and Dallas, 3,000 in Fort Worth, and approximately 2,500 in the Austin area. Each chapter is different but all share a similar structure and the alumni decide what they want to do with their chapter.”It’s up to the chapter how active they want to be,” Briggs said. Most of them usually have a president and a committee that help do things such as mailing out flyers to alumni and organizing special events and occasions for the alumni to meet at such as mixers.The alumni chapters are usually busy during the year. “We usually have three to four mixers and a chapter party a year,” President of the Houston chapter Terry Stillabower said. Stillabower graduated in the Class of ’67 and was on the Apache Basketball Team.”We talk about years past and take lots of pictures.” However, organizing such an event can be a challenge between contacting all the alumni and the size of their area.”There are a lot of people living in the Houston area and it’s difficult to meet at a central location,” Stillabower said. “We usually go to an area such as Spring and get in touch with as many people as we can. Then we’ll go to another area and have another event. The purpose of these events is to meet fellow alumni, register them, and also tell them what’s going on during the year,” Stillabower said.However, each city has their own set of challenges.”Austin has a very bad traffic problem and we try to work around the busiest times to have our meetings,” President of the Austin Chapter Mary Blitch said.Besides having chapter events, the alumni also hold fundraisers to raise money to donate to several TJC scholarships. “We have an auction and donate memorabilia from TJC. The manager of Cavender’s in Houston even donated a pair of ostrich boots to the auction.”Individual chapters may also come together on special occasions and do things as a group.”One year a group of alumni went on a trip to New York together to watch the opening of Dr. Crawford’s (theater teacher’s) off-Broadway play. Another year a group went to Los Angeles and was able to meet former alum and lyricist Will Jennings,” Briggs said.Chapters also help recruit new students. They attend college nights at local schools and help promote TJC.”Apaches are successful and don’t mind giving of their time,” Stillabower said.Making connections with other alumni can help new graduates by making connections that could potentially help them in their chosen career.”If they aren’t able to help them, they have valuable advice like places to live, places to eat, or how to get around the city,” Briggs said. The alumni offers memberships to all former students of TJC, friends and associates of TJC, and current students enrolled at TJC. For more information, go to the alumni website at http://www.tjc.edu/alumni .

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