Alumni return to campus for jam-packed weekend

PRESIDENT JACKSON JOINS alumni from the classes of ’45 and ’65 at the weekend football game.

If you’re a freshman or a sophomore, Alumni Weekend is probably barely on your radar. If you’re a junior or a senior, this past weekend was probably a fun time to see your friends who have graduated. If you’re an alumnus like myself, then you spent the weekend catching up with friends and going to events. My Saturday especially was filled with over 12 hours of events.

Saturday morning, I went to the NASA Program with NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden and Reid Wiseman ’97. President Shirley Ann Jackson moderated, and it was really quite a fascinating discussion. Bolden said that visiting RPI helped him realize how very important and big the recent discovery of water on Mars is. Wiseman and Bolden also talked at length about the changes the human body faces during extended periods of time in space. Bolden said he felt that being in space made him realize how small and interconnected Earth is. On the International Space Station, Bolden once saw a dust storm from Africa that was blowing into South America. He said that being on the ISS also helped him realize how much of the Earth is water. I was able to ask Bolden how they were translating technologies used on spacecraft to reduce energy and water use in civilian life. Bolden explained that they were working with the West Coast to fund how to conserve water and fight fires.

Next, I went up to East Campus Athletic Village for FanFest. There was a great deal of free food, but it was also noisy and busy. I was able to find a good number of people I knew and got to briefly catch up with them. Then, I went down to the Rensselaer Union for the LGBT Affinity Alumni and Student Reception. Only a few people were there at first, but several more came to this informal networking event just as I had to leave to prepare for my own event. My event, the inaugural SustainAffinity Panel and Reception, was more fun than expected for me. I got to listen to the four RPI alum panelists whom I had selected to talk about their experiences working to further environmental sustainability. Their answers to my questions were much more thorough and insightful than I had anticipated.

Afterwards, I went to the tail end of the Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening of the Rensselaer Collegiate Store. I rarely used the bookstore when I was a student, but I was struck by two huge differences: the bright lights and the increased space. I then joined friends in the Clubhouse Pub for dinner; afterwards, I went to the a cappella show in the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. The Rusty Pipes and Partial Credit performed and were great. I went back to the Rensselaer Union for the Sheer Idiocy show afterwards, which was full of hilarity as usual.

Reunion & Homecoming was a good weekend filled with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, some since they had graduated several years before. There were almost too many events; I missed several events that I would have loved to attend, because something else was going on at the same time. Running an event was a great experience, and I’d advise anyone interested in starting an affinity group to talk with Alumni Relations about doing so, and to host an event next year!