For the 2018-2019 school year, our Chapter launched a new pilot program called LionNotes to promote engagement between the chapter and current students. Each August we host a “Student Send Off” party to meet and engage with the local students attending Penn State in the fall. LionNotes will continue where the Student Send Off leaves off. The intention of the LionNotes program is to send continual support to Orange County students who have chosen to attend Penn State and are far away from home. The model for this program is a one-on-one “adopt a student” model. The alumni “sponsors” are matched with a student based on a commonality such as sports, Greek life or major.
Most of the OCIEA alumni members are originally from the east coast, but two of the OCIEA Board Members are native Californians. Chapter Board Members David Wolfe (English ’94) and Brian Snyder (Communications ’02) both went to high school in Orange County and traveled across the country to go to Penn State. OCIEA Board member and LionNotes sponsor Brian Snyder said, “As much as I was excited to attend Penn State, I would have loved the opportunity to connect with alumni when I was a student.”
We decided it was very important to match Engineering students with Engineering alumni due to the rigor and the prestige of the Engineering program. We searched LinkedIn and recruited five young professional engineers to become sponsors. Two of our sponsors just graduated in 2018 and were working at their first job. These young professionals were able to easily relate to their students since they had recently lived on campus. Nikhil Bharadwaj (Energy Engineering ’18) moved to Orange County after graduating in May 2018. “Before I was connected with the LionNotes program, I had not met any Penn Staters in Orange County.”
The number one goal of the program is to send positive messages of support throughout the year. The alumni interacted with their student via letters, email and text. LionNotes introduced Freshman to the “Penn State for life” ethos. Students began to realize how much alumni support them, care about their success, and support their future careers. As many of the matches were created based on major, it is a bonus for students if their alumni sponsor can provide career track or professional guidance.
Fernando Muñoz, a Sophomore at Penn state majoring in International Politics was excited to receive a handwritten envelope from Orange County. “It is fun to get real mail and know the alumni in Orange County are supporting us” said Fernando.
OCIEA plans to expand the program for the 2019-2020 school year. Please contact Board Member Anna Bryan (International Politics ’99) if you are interested in participating in the future.