African American Alumni Council Provides a Voice As It Recruits Young Alums, Hosts Events

Members of the African American Alumni Council at a social event in Hartford.
Happy hours, paint nights, and other events are part of the African American Alumni Council's plan to bring more recent alums into the group (G.J. McCarthy / UConn Foundation)

UConn’s African American Alumni Council plans to hit the refresh button this year with a new drive to attract younger alumni, host more events, and build a strong network to support students as they move through UConn and prepare to enter the workforce.

“We really want to get fresh, new perspectives from recent alums, so that we can use new and innovative ways to better service students and our communities,” Council Co-Chair Theresa Hopkins-Staten ’81 (CLAS), ’84 JD said.

Since the late 1990s, the council has raised scholarships, held workshops for middle school students and their parents, and hosted wellness fairs and other community events. Now it hopes to reinvigorate and expand the group as it moves into a new decade.

“We want to help students and young alums tap into our network and build relationships,” Fareed Rasheed ’08 (CLAS) said. “We can offer them tons of knowledge and help them navigate their careers, so they are not on their own.”

Rasheed and Jason F. Ellis ’09 (CLAS) plan to use their expertise as event planners to help the group along. Their side business, TNB (There’s Nothing Better), organizes events in Hartford and around the state that bring young professionals together to share ideas, make social and professional connections, and simply have fun.

Rasheed said he would like to see the council bridge the gap and attract younger graduates by hosting happy hours, paint nights, and other social events in the greater Hartford area. He said he hopes that the younger members could help build the group’s social media presence.

Tina Beamon ’94 (CLAS) recently joined the group after she and her husband, Jonathan Beamon ’94 (CLAS), returned to Storrs for the big 50th anniversary celebration of the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center.

“We experienced just a flood of memories from our time there. It was wonderful,” she said. “And, after hearing the Voices of Freedom gospel choir sing, I turned to my husband and said, ‘You know what? We should be more connected with students now.’”

Find out more about the African American Alumni Council by contacting Glenn Cassis, co-chair of the council, at glenncassis@comcast.net.

Join the group’s next event, a career development brunch and panel discussion called Life After UConn: Connecting your Passion with Purpose, on Feb. 23, 2020 in Storrs.