University of Minnesota Alumni Association

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Oh, the Stories You'll Tell

Oh, the Stories You'll Tell

UMAA President and CEO, Lisa Lewis

Did you know this magazine predates the Alumni Association? Back in 1901, a former U of M registrar founded a journal called The Weekly to “make the alumni acquainted with what is going on at the University at all times, and to foster a genuine University spirit among the alumni.” It wasn’t a moneymaker, so the Alumni Association—founded in 1904 and then called the General Alumni Association (GAA)—took ownership of The Weekly in 1906. 

Over time, things changed. The GAA became UMAA and The Weekly evolved into Minnesota Alumni. Yet, the original missions for both the organization and the magazine remain today. This didn’t happen by accident, of course: It’s been you, and members like you for over 100 years, who made this possible for the U of M alumni community. 

Each of our alumni has a story to share. Our editor, Kelly O’Hara Dyer, does a fantastic job packaging them together in this award-winning magazine. But the fact is, with over 500,000 living alumni, it’s impossible to preserve every story, memory, or reflection in a magazine format. So, the UMAA has launched a new endeavor. It’s called Alumni Reflections. 

Did you get a postcard or email from Alumni Reflections yet?

You may have already received a postcard or email from Alumni Reflections, our effort to compile an oral history of the U of M. The initial response has been amazing and we want to hear your story, too! When you get your card, simply follow the directions on it to share in this compilation.

Robert Goldstein, Ph.D. ’64, shared this memory: “Even though I applied to 10 graduate schools, and got accepted by all of them, I chose the U of M because they took an interest in me and offered me a fellowship. But the personal invitation I got from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science was the deciding factor. They kept sending me telegrams and letters, really wanting me to come here. I was very lucky because my thesis advisor was Professor Neal Amundson, head of the department and a real icon in the field of chemical engineering.”

It’s an oral history project with the goal of preserving thousands of alumni memories in a physical hardbound book and a digital storybook. Nobody but you can tell the story of how the U of M changed your life. That’s why we’re turning the microphone over to you. 

Did a special faculty member have a profound impact on your life? Were you on campus during a historical moment? Did you and your sweetheart meet at the University? These stories and more are what we’re hoping to preserve for future generations. Because your story is a part of the history of this institution.

Postcards and emails have been sent your way with instructions on how to take part in Alumni Reflections. You can also visit to learn more. I hope you’ll join your fellow alumni in sharing your story and be a part of a 121-year-old storytelling legacy. 


Lisa Lewis

President and CEO

Life Member and Alumni Leadership Circle Donor

University of Minnesota Alumni Association

ALUMNI! Pay it Forward and Post a Project

Give students a micro-internship opportunity. 

By Caitlin Buckvold Neal

I started college in 2008 intent on becoming a writer. Then the Great Recession struck, and I saw the writing on the wall: foreclosure signs dotting lawns, breaking bad news on my TV, and talking heads pontificating about making sensible college major choices.

The writing career I planned for myself, a first-generation college student, started feeling so remote as to be ridiculous. As former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan talked about the irrational exuberance of the markets, I looked at my dream of writing for a living and saw the same thing.

Instead I majored in economics and spent eight years working in a few different industries before deciding to revisit my urge to write for a living. I returned to the U of M for a master’s in the Strategic Communication program.

I’m always looking for more ways to gain experience so I was excited to see a Minnesota Alumni post on the Projects board in the Maroon and Gold Network for a first-person article.

The Network is an online platform hosted by UMAA that connects students with alumni, faculty, and friends of the organization. It offers networking and mentorship opportunities, career development resources, and more. Projects is a new digital hub on the site that lets participants offer short-term (40 hours or less), real-world experiences to students. These micro-internships provide an opportunity to explore different industries and gain new skills. Projects pull from all disciplines and sectors, with tasks ranging from “analyzing data and extracting insights” to designing a logo.

I applied. Without any formal writing experience and with internships more competitive than ever, my hopes weren’t high. To my surprise, I was accepted!

“This is exactly what Maroon and Gold Network Projects are for: [to] get that foot in the door, get that entry-level experience, whether it’s your first career or third career,” explains Marissa Smith, UMAA director of student & recent alumni engagement.

Projects let alumni tap into the U of M student network for help tackling small tasks that may be sitting on the back burner at their organizations. Students, in turn, gain experience and build resume skills.

Roberta Ryan, (B.S. ’14) an animal curator at the Wildlife Science Center, has posted Projects for overflow tasks at her organization. “We’re all biologists; none of us are marketers or business majors or anything like that,” she says. “Anything outside animal care and research, we’re making up as we go along. When we have [small jobs] like that come up, the Projects are for students with that background.”

And when students work with alumni on a Project, a sense of support is already built into the partnership. “It’s comforting to know you have at least one major thing in common: that you both went to, or go to, the University,” says Jessalyn Dvorak, who graduated in May with a B.S. in developmental psychology. Dvorak worked on a Project for a local charter school conducting literature reviews and presenting her findings to the administrative board. “It can be really hard and scary to get internships, so to be able to go through the University’s database makes it a whole lot easier,” she says.

Bruce Mooty, a past chair of the Alumni Association, sees both the value of the Projects platform and an opportunity to eliminate financial barriers for students. He started the Mooty Internship Scholarship, which launched in April, to offer a one-time, $500 scholarship to students who take on an unpaid Maroon and Gold Network Project. He hopes it will inspire other alumni to pay it forward by posting a project.

“This is a chance to give back,” Mooty says. “Some of the most fulfilling things in life are when you help others maximize themselves.”

Consider it a down payment on a dream, or maybe a sign that our futures are meant to be a little exuberant.

As for the magazine article I wrote for my Maroon and Gold Network Project? You’re reading it.

Welcome to the Alumni Family, Class of 2022!

Photo credit: Justin Cox

More than 1,200 graduates gathered on May 4 at McNamara Alumni Center for the Send Off, presented by Huntington Bank. This event featured photos with Goldy and Paul Bunyan’s Axe, samples from alumni-owned businesses, a graduation gift, and more.

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