Princeton is known for having a strong alumni network, but prior to matriculating, I wasn’t quite sure what that would mean — I had vague impressions of reunions held on Princeton’s campus every year, and met some alumni from the Richmond, Virginia area when I was accepted, but it wasn’t until this semester that I began to experience first hand the sorts of ways that alumni connect with students.
As a member of the University Press Club, a group of freelance journalists on Princeton’s campus, I met some of the alumni for the first time last spring, when we had our biannual board meeting. This meeting provides board members (all of them former Press Club members themselves) a summary of club activities and updates from the past semester. I was incredibly nervous prior to loading into the Zoom room as our board includes editors for the Washington Post and New York Times, CEOs, authors and more. I felt a little out of place, having only written for a handful of publications before my first semester with the club.
And I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what became clear as the board meeting began was that each board member cared deeply about the present and future of the Press Club. Although they had all left the club in member capacity when they graduated Princeton, it still obviously occupied space in their hearts and minds, and they listened intently to what club members had to say and gave insightful and varied feedback and suggestions. During a normal semester, I’m told that the Press Club gathers with board members in a physical conference room in New York City, but even without this formality, there was a gravity and intensity in the Zoom room that was welcome and comforting — we, the current club members, weren’t alone in our pursuit of journalism.
This semester, in addition to the regular board meeting, we have been joined by a board member or other alumni every other week to discuss their careers and bounce story ideas off of them. It’s injected new energy into our weekly meetings — it’s always good to have a fresh mind to generate ideas for what to write about — and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know some of the Press Club alumni and hearing about the different paths they took after graduating.
The Press Club is small, with usually under fifteen active members, so feeling like we have a whole alumni network behind us means a lot. While my future is still uncertain, journalism or some career in writing looms intimidatingly large on the horizon. It’s nice to meet some of the people who have similar interests as I do, chat with them about their career paths, get advice about the changing landscape of the field, but above all, it’s nice to have their support and interest as the Press Club continues to grow and change. It’s comforting to know that the people who were in my place in years past haven’t just left the club and Princeton behind; rather, they keep on cultivating the group that meant so much to them.