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On the evening of September 29, in what promises to be a wonderful tradition, seven graduates who identify as people of color joined two dozen current students of color for dinner and conversation, with the aim of sharing their experiences, building connection, and moving our community forward in terms of belonging. Several dozen alums began their months-long volunteer work as admission interviewers this week. Over the course of the admission cycle, they will collectively meet with more than 100 prospective BUA students and families. Twenty-four graduates from 1997 to 2016 will come together this weekend for the first Alumni Council meeting of the year to plan alumni events and offer feedback on the school’s emerging strategic vision. Plans are in place for several alumni career panels and all-school meetings where graduates will share their stories with current students and offer models of lives well lived. The list goes on.

Many are in early stages of their careers, working hard to establish themselves. Many have young families. All are busy. And they all choose to carve out time to volunteer with their old school.

I have talked to four dozen BUA graduates one-on-one since my start at BUA to hear their stories and ask for advice, and have met many more at events along the way. I often ask what the school can do for them. Their answer – nearly always – is that we can open doors for them to be part of and contribute to the life of the school that was critical to their development – a place where they learned how to read deeply and think critically; where they “found their people” andcould be themselves; where they encountered adults who have become lifelong mentors. So many graduates want to give back to make sure that experience is available to the next generation and simply show gratitude for the experience they had. And we are better for it.

A mentor once told me that “a school can only be as great as its graduates want it to be.” If that’s true, and I believe it is, that is a very good sign for BUA.

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