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TGS & NAA Host Inaugural Graduate Alumni Homecoming Gathering

Created: October 15, 2018

Dean Woodruff '89 PhD, with speakers Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole '59 MA, '67 PhD, '92 H, Mollie McQuillan, and Samir Mayekar '06, '13 MBA

The Graduate School (TGS) and the Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA) were delighted to welcome TGS alumni back to campus during Homecoming/Reunion Weekend at our inaugural Graduate Alumni Homecoming Gathering in TGS Commons on Friday, October 12. 

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TGS alumni from a breadth of years and array of disciplines had the opportunity to network with one another and bond over their shared experiences at Northwestern. They were also able to mingle and share stories with a representation of current graduate students. The goal of this gathering was to acknowledge and honor our graduate alumni, in addition to creating a greater sense of connection.  

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Dean of TGS, Teresa K. Woodruff '89 PhD, spoke to the importance of creating a stronger sense of community among TGS alumni. “While our paths within and after our time at Northwestern may be varied and diverse, we are all part of the same vibrant legacy,” Dean Woodruff said. “That is why we hosted this event, to bring together these varied experiences and create shared memories moving forward.”  

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The evening began with drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and sparkling conversation, followed by speeches from Dean Woodruff; Samir Mayekar '06, '13 MBA, the newly-elected president of the NAA and co-founder and CEO of SiNode Systems; Mollie McQuillan, a doctoral candidate in the Human Development and Social Policy Program at the School of Education and Public Policy (SESP); and Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole '59 MA, '67 PhD, '92 H, a principal consultant with Cook Ross Inc. and a 2018 Northwestern Alumni Medal recipient. 

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As these trailblazers in their respective disciplines and fields of research discussed their academic journeys and shared their personal passions, common themes began to emerge, including the importance of graduate education and the appreciation our TGS alumni have for Northwestern. 

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“Not expressing gratitude is like wrapping a present - even adding a big red bow on top and not giving it,” said Dr. Cole, prior to thanking Northwestern for the education she received as a graduate student. She went on to speak about her career and how her time at Northwestern prepared her for her future success. Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Cole served as president of two historically black colleges for women, Spelman College and Bennett College, as director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and as the first woman to serve on the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises.  

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“When I thought about my years here at Northwestern, what struck me is how extraordinarily prepared I was for the expected and the unexpected,” Dr. Cole said. Maybe that’s what a good graduate education ought to do now.”  

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TGS and the NAA are already making plans to repeat this successful event next year and will continue to expand our alumni engagement efforts. If you would like to stay informed of future TGS alumni events, please reach out to Jaclyn Hugg, Associate Director, Alumni Engagement, at jaclyn.hugg@northwestern.edu or 847.467.6632. 

Please click here to view more photos from the event
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