Keeping Alumni and Students Creatively Engaged During the Pandemic
In a year when COVID-19 has been synonymous with cancellations, quarantines and social distancing, staying connected has become more important than ever.
With the aid of Zoom technology and lots of creativity, Regent’s Office of Alumni Relations has successfully kept alumni and students engaged through hosting unique virtual events ranging from nights of prayer and worship to leadership forums, regional networking events and even a chocolate tasting.
“We had to quickly pivot to new ways of working and connecting with our alumni,” says Lynanne Kaiser, executive director of Alumni Relations for Regent University.
In the immediate wake of the pandemic, the alumni relations team launched a campaign—You Are Not Alone—to encourage and pray for students and alumni. They also hosted a leadership forum: “The Christian Leader’s Response to COVID-19.” The forum, led by key faculty from Regent’s School of Divinity and School of Nursing, saw registrants from 37 states and 14 countries—Regent’s highest forum turnout to date.
But as the pandemic progressed, so did Regent’s long-term strategy.
“At first our focus was to help alumni and the broader Regent community get information, resources and support to maneuver through the challenges brought on by the pandemic,” shares Kaiser. “As time went on and it became clear that lockdowns and social distancing would continue indefinitely, we began to fully embrace platforms like Zoom to reimagine our events and meetings.”
Such events have included: a virtual version of Regent’s signature United Night of Worship (NOW) event with 20 churches represented and more than 8,500 video views via social media sites and Regent’s website; an evening of unifying prayer prior to the November election, featuring key leadership from the areas of business, church, government, and the medical community to pray over our nation; and inspiring “Zoom Room” interviews with alumni who are making a difference in their careers and areas of influence.
Team alumni kicked off 2021 with a virtual vision board event to help alumni focus on their New Year goals and in early March they hosted their sweetest event yet—a virtual chocolate tasting where guests were shipped a box of chocolates in advance to sample during the tasting and learned about the confection’s journey from bean to bar.
“We are using these virtual gatherings to foster joy and community at a time when we need each other more than ever,” says Kaiser.
And it’s working. Participants across the board have responded with gratitude for the resources and support they have received through these events, for the opportunity to connect, and for the enjoyment and fun the virtual gatherings have provided.