Student: Alumni Leaders Make GW Special

Jessica Hoffner, who will graduate this year, is a GW Colonial Ambassador.
GW student Jessica Hoffner, who will graduate this year, is a Colonial Ambassador.

As part of GW’s student-alumni initiatives, the Colonial Ambassadors Program empowers a select group of undergraduate students to promote and preserve GW traditions, encourage a spirit of philanthropy and nurture the student-alumni connection through special events and projects.

With offerings like the Colonial Ambassador/GW Alumni Association (GWAA) mentorship exchange–which pairs ambassadors with alumni leaders who share interests and fields of study–ambassadors are able to work directly with members the GWAA Board of Directors.

In this reflection piece by ambassador Jessica Hoffner, Milken Institute SPH Class of 2014, learn how GWAA board member Venessa Perry, Milken Institute SPH MPH ’99, has forever changed Hoffner’s GW experience:

I have long understood the significance of the alumni-student relationship at GW—it’s the reason that, two years ago, I applied to become a Colonial Ambassador (CA) during the program’s inaugural year. It’s also the reason that I participated in the Colonial Ambassador/GWAA’s mentorship exchange, which has proved to be a unique and valuable experience.

I remember the day I “met” my mentor, Venessa Perry, president and CEO of Health Resource Solutions—we were first introduced via e-mail by my CA advisor, Erin Garratt. After reading her bio, I was so excited to connect with Venessa—she is accomplished in her professional field and her interests are very much in line with my own.  I aspire to achieve similar successes as a health care provider in my future career.

From day one, despite never having met me, Venessa has been engaged in my success. I have now met with her several times and frequently stay in touch with her via e-mail and phone. Her guidance has proved instrumental in both my graduate school application process and professional development thus far—together, we explore options for my future. Few people, other than my parents, have taken such a strong interest in my development.

Venessa is someone I look up to not only because of what she has achieved, but because of how selflessly she has taken me on as her mentee. Meeting her has only reinforced the unique importance of the student-alumni relationship.

This experience illustrates what makes GW so special—countless alumni leaders, who are experts in their fields, remain active and involved with GW undergrads.  It is these service-minded graduates of the GW community that set the tone for the next generation of leaders. My relationship with Venessa proves how important and effective student-alumni programming can be—these programs create an immediate sense of community for undergraduates. And, in doing so, they strengthen the desire to continue that relationship long after graduation.

I feel so fortunate to have had Venessa as a mentor. Come May, I look forward to becoming part of the alumni community, so that I too can give back to the university that has given so much to me.

–Jessica Hoffner, Milken Institute School of Public Health, Class of 2014

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