Growing and Strengthening Our Vandal Family
Before my time at the University of Idaho, I saw college as a means to an end: pursuing my dream of becoming a lawyer. But after completing my undergraduate degree and law school, I knew I gained something even more meaningful: membership in the Vandal Family.
Following graduation, I kept noticing the unquantifiable value that the University of Idaho added to my career and my life. I met many of my dearest friends over late night bagels and arboretum walks, and amassed some brilliant, supportive mentors during my collegiate years. I have also established many fantastic professional connections through the Vandal Family — one even helped me land my dream gig. As a result, I began giving back to the university in little ways, such as marching with the Alumni Band at Homecoming, volunteering at the Vandal booth at the Western Idaho Fair and trying to convince every high-schooler I met to set their sights on U of I.
Ultimately, I felt inspired to give back in a more substantial way. One of my Vandal colleagues/mentors nominated me for the University of Idaho Alumni Association (UIAA) board of directors. The UIAA is the official Vandal Family, and unlike other universities’ alumni associations, membership is free! The UIAA’s mission is “to develop and strengthen lifelong relationships” between alumni and our beloved alma mater. As incoming president of the UIAA board of directors, I’m honored to donate my time to this endeavor.
Since I’ve been on the board, I’ve witnessed exciting moments for Vandal alumni. The UIAA developed the new Brave and Bold Award, which will honor young Vandal alumni with distinguished careers and/or service. You can learn more at uidaho.edu/alumni/awards.
I represented the UIAA at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU) Arena, which will be home to the university’s basketball teams, academic events, concerts and other special events, and will include our very first Alumni Club Room, a gathering space designed for alumni. The UIAA made a financial gift to the project because we recognize its value as a place for all Vandals.
To grow the Vandal Family and continue our strong traditions, the UIAA worked with the Office of Alumni Relations and the Office of Student Financial Aid to create a scholarship that encourages more legacy students to attend U of I. Starting in fall 2020, the university will award multiple scholarships of at least $1,000 to sophomore, junior or senior legacy students with financial need. We define legacy as a student who has a parent, step-parent, guardian, grandparent or sibling who is an alum.
If, like me, you love the University of Idaho and are looking for ways to stay connected, I urge you to get involved in one of the many alumni chapters in the U.S. (or start a new one) or consider serving on the UIAA Board of Directors. I hope you’ll join me in making the University of Idaho even better for our Vandal Family.
Article by Catie Freeman ’09, ’13.
Published in the Spring 2020 issue of Here We Have Idaho.