Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Layton Hopper ’16

Mount Vernon, Indiana • Woodrow Wilson School View Profile

Doritos and A Guest House: The Magic of the Alumni Support Network

Near the end of last semester, excitement over my Club Sailing team’s annual Florida training trip was mounting, as the week promised plenty of sunshine, sailing and team bonding after a brutal finals period. More than 20 of my teammates had already purchased plane tickets from Newark to Tampa for Jan. 25, the first day of our intercession break.

In the months leading up to the trip, our team had rented two houses. Although they were the cheapest we could find, they were promising, coming with all the amenities our team could want—from an off-kilter pool table to the gaudy, seagull-inspired art only acceptable in vacation homes. However, the large size of our team necessitated that we find a third house, and we were running out of options quickly. Difficulties came from all angles, as budget limits and hard-line rental policies prevented us from finding another residence that suited our needs.

As images of teammates spending the entire week sleeping on rolled up sweaters and inflatable pool toys became more and more realistic, the search grew frantic. So, we turned toward the one secret weapon left open to all Princeton students facing a predicament: the alumni network.

We emailed two alumni, a husband and a wife, asking for advice in acquiring housing. The alumni responding positively—in fact, they shocked us with their enthusiasm and willingness to help. In the end, they not only hosted some of our team in their guest house, but they also organized a BBQ for the entire club and ended up inviting the seniors into their home for an evening of hors d'oeuvres and reminiscing about Ol’ Nassau.

Two team members standing on beach.
Team members Alec and Maggie enjoy the beach near the houses.

Needless to say, the gracious support of the alumni contributed heavily to the success of the trip. Their generosity kept the freshmen from having to sleep on flotation devices and freed up extra money in the team’s food budget so that we could afford previously foregone luxuries—things like extra Doritos and real wheat bread.

During that trip, I came to further appreciate the enthusiastic support of alumni as one of the defining features of the Princeton community. I’m not sure what it is, but there is something about this place, something inherent in its enduring traditions, that brings people together and builds a lifelong community of support.

Simply put, our alums are fiercely dedicated and loyal. Almost all of them look back on their time here fondly. Remembering that they themselves had received support from alums during their college years, they are more than enthusiastic about contributing to the success of younger generations. The cycle lives on.

Sailing Burgee
Princeton Sailing's Burgee - our official symbol.