Behind the scenes with Laura Escalante, alumni officer
Apr 1, 2021
By Guylaine Spencer
At the McMaster School of Nursing, we are celebrating our 75th anniversary in 2021. Meet one of our campus partners who help our alumni celebrate their special events.
Photo above: Laura Escalante
When nursing alumni are planning reunions, Laura Escalante is there to help.
Escalante is an alumni officer and has been a campus partner of the School of Nursing for 10 years. She also works with alumni from various other faculties and affinities, as well as earlier full class groups on reunions.
“We can assist alumni groups in various ways,” says Escalante. “Some groups need help locating and reaching out to classmates. We can assist.”
Some may want help with planning reunions. Past alumni activities have included: tours of the campus and hospital including a visit to the School of Nursing and the Centre for Simulation Based Learning, lunch on campus at the University Club, dinner and drinks at the Phoenix (an on-campus student pub). (For stories about previous milestone reunions, see links at the end of this page.)
“Some groups come on Alumni Day or on Homecoming, and we can provide guidance, event suggestions, and assistance. Alumni Day takes place on the first full weekend in June. It’s primarily for earlier classes celebrating their 50th anniversary or greater, but sometimes other class years or affinity reunions (i.e., student activity groups) celebrate then. Often, the more recent class years will come on Homecoming in the fall. Nurses have held reunions on these dates, but also many other times in the year that work for their classmates. Some nurses are looking into events on campus, so we can provide suggestions for venues and activities. If they are looking to do something off campus, and many do, I can tell them what other groups have done. Each reunion group is unique and so we can also assist with other special touches for their specific plan.”
Typically, three or four groups per year contact Escalante for help with their milestone reunions. “I know other nursing reunions happen and we hear about them afterwards. For example, they might come for their 40th anniversary and tell us they’ve been meeting every 5 years for the past 40 years but want to come to campus this time.”
Among alumni groups, nurses are often unique, according to Escalante. “They manage to stay very connected with each other, especially now with social media. I would say it’s because they have a distinctive program. They take all their classes together. They all know each other and spend so much time together that they graduate with a bond. That’s a wonderful thing.”
It’s also common for the nurses to do something alongside their reunions in support of nursing students. “We have bursary funds or scholarship funds that we can recommend to them. Some of the nursing groups have their own funds that they set up and support,” she says.
Because of the pandemic, groups have been unable to gather in person recently. The June Alumni Day 2021 is postponed, but there will be some virtual events particularly for the 50th anniversary class of 2021. “We have heard from a few groups - not necessarily nursing - who are connecting online. We’ve heard from some groups who prefer to wait until they can gather in person, and others who are considering virtual options, which we are more than happy to support,” says Escalante.
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