On Friday, June 25th CICS hosted the Alumni and Advisory Board Meeting in person. While not everyone could make the event, it was wonderful to have people together in a room again. CICS Director Dennis Trinkle set the tone for introductions of our in person and virtual attendees by asking everyone to name something that they were especially grateful for at the moment. Vaccines, technology, CICS, family and more were at the top of most lists. Dr. Anna Stumpf provided updates on the Online CICS program before lunch. Following lunch there was a student panel, which is always a favorite of the alumni and national advisory board. Dr. Edward Lazaros introduced the members to the Master of Arts in Career and Technical Education and Dr. David Hua gave insights and updates on the Computer Technology Undergraduate Degree Program.
The evening portion of the program provides members of both the alumni and advisory board to mingle and chat with the faculty and current students before dinner. Each year various alumni are recognized by being inducted into the CICS Alumni Hall of Fame. There are two designations for the award; Alumni and those identified having graduated less than ten years ago as Young Alumni.
In alphabetical order, the first of the the 2021 Young Alumni inductees is Emma Green. Emma graduated from CICS in 2016. She has been with Accenture since graduating the program and has held various positions within the company. Emma has been a constant presence in the Accenture Challenges for both the online and on campus program, helping to coordinate and judge up to four times a year. Emma attends as many career days, mock interviews, meets with as many students as ask her, and attends many other events, such as alumni board meetings, as her schedule will allow. Last year Emma was able to mentor one of the online students in his independent study experience in cybersecurity. We truly appreciate Emma and the time and talent that she continues to give to the students in CICS.
Laura Lauer, a 2018 graduate of CICS, is also a constant presence in meetings, recruitment, events, and conversations with students. Laura has the privilege of representing Impact Associates, one of our top corporate partners. Perhaps the greatest impact on CICS during the pandemic is what Laura and her co-inductee, Zoey Spengler (also a 2018 graduate and Accenture employee) joined forces to do for the CICS students. In July of 2020 Laura and Zoey approached CICS leadership with the idea to manage virtual social learning Zoom calls weekly throughout the academic year. Both of these alumni understood the impact that the pandemic and the unknown of the hybrid and virtual academic year may have on the students entering the program. These ladies worked diligently to reach out to over 30 CICS alumni and strategically request topics and filled nearly every Thursday at 12pm EST for an hour. The efforts of outreach, coordination, communication, and to be on the calls to introduce the alumni speakers was a massive dedication of time and energy. There is no way that our 80+ graduate student would have the opportunity to hear from successful and diverse professionals every week without the efforts of Laura and Zoey. These calls, covering topics such as remote work, project management, diversity, HIPPA, cybersecurity, volunteerism, mental health, resume and interviewing, working with global teams and much more have been recorded and posted; many have been used in courses and will continue to be resources beyond just this academic year. This initiative has forever changed the CICS approach and format of social learning. That is a huge statement because social learning is a foundational pillar of our program and something that every alumni fondly remembers; but we have now adapted and expanded our boundaries to deliver more value and engagement; all because these two incredible alumnae.
Answering the call in Summer 2020 when CICS was attempting to still make an impact on the graduating class our final Young Alumni inductee, Katie Meloche, answered the call. Katie brought her friend David onto a call and inspired students for over an hour on topics around interviewing, how to approach alumni for networking opportunities, and spent a good portion of their time answering any questions the students had on their mind from how to send a thank you note during a global pandemic to mental health. Katie not only returned to speak to students, with David again, in Fall of 2020 but she has been a guest in several classes as well as took the initiative to offer a demo call for students interested in what her current role as a Solutions Consultant with Adobe looked like. Katie conducted a mock call for almost two hours and then answered questions. Beyond the class and social learning support is the constant engagement with students. From phone calls, text threads, and even inviting them to virtual morning yoga, Katie is intentional and relational with students and the difference that makes to them is indescribable.
Now for the alumni who have been giving back, showing up, mentoring and more for over a decade. We first highlight Randi Roger. Randi has been an active alumna for two decades. She says “It is easy to support something that changed the course of your entire life”. But, the amount of support, engagement, partnerships, and presence that Randi has exhibited as an active partner of the center for so long, it takes intentional effort and dedication. Randi is the first one in every meeting to ask about the students, she always wants to know what they are working on and what they are challenged by; she is always asking to figure out how she can help. Rarely does she miss an event and for every event she attends she makes it a point to leave an impression and multiple connections.
Tony Piazza is a 2005 graduate of CICS. Tony is another constant in attending meetings, social learning events and especially enjoys guest speaking in classes. Tony’s career has spanned many organizations as an Agile Advocate and Trainer and Scrummaster. He has brought his expertise in agile, design thinking, and innovation regularly into course and the social learning program as a guest lecturer. He has helped CICS grads gain employment at Comcast and broadly in Scrum roles, and he has brought high-impact immersive learning projects to the Center to help students gain that every-valuable real-world, leading-edge experience.
The most recent graduate of the inductees is Jared Linder, a 2007 graduate. Uniquely, Jared has also taught in the program at various times for over a decade. Jared created curriculum and co-taught Project Management portion of core curriculum and our Survey of Management class. He also refined curriculum and taught one semester of Usability and Human Factors. Jared still serves as a subject matter expert and guest speaker for both courses and social learning. Jared brings a level of professionalism and knowledge that is impressive; Jared serves as a nationwide expert on HHS IT systems and project work, serving as Indiana’s resident go-to for speaking engagements, and serves as the regional representative for the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) IT Services Management (ISM), while also helping with the local Indianapolis chapter of Echelon, a young professionals’ group within the Marion County branch of the Salvation Army. Despite his many obligations and commitments, he is available for our advisory board, our faculty, students, and events without fail. Jared has given back and made us proud.