by Sarah Nathanson

Apparently, life explodes with possibility after university. For me, with all of the projects I’m working through at the moment, it feels like graduation day is at the top of a mountain, and I can’t see the other side over it. Coming to U of T felt like the culmination of a very long journey, and the idea that something exists on the other side shocks me somewhat.

I was very lucky to catch a glimpse of the life of the New Alumnus a few weeks ago, and it was fun, life affirming, and exciting. For me, this glimpse was in the form of New College’s very own Alumni and Family Mac and Cheese event, where I was photographer, interviewer, and student observer. Newtonians — our college throws such nice events for us once we’ve graduated! Our alumni are incredibly accomplished people! I have to say, as a student with anxiety about the future, this was an extremely reassuring event to attend.

Alumni serving themselves mac and cheese at a buffet.

Mac, Cheese and Families

Picture this: a warm, friendly environment, as laughter and chatter filled the air as old friends connected. Parents oohed and aahed over cookies that their young children had decorated for them. The delicious aroma of fresh pasta wafted through the air, the mac and cheese having been made moments before in the demonstration by New College’s own Chef Louis.

This event was a brand new initiative, thought up at an Alumni Ambassador Group meeting — a gathering of New College grads (that specifically work with the college) and staff who work to make sure that all New Alumni are connected and supported by the college. As most New students know, New College is particularly interested in food sustainability — and, of course, how it contributes to community building. How better to embody these values than to have a comforting meal with the New family?

A large room with children decorating cookies.

Alum Discussions

According to Alumni Ambassador Chioma Ekpo, this is one of the most important lines of thinking when putting together events like this one. Ekpo, who did her undergraduate degree at U of T (at New College, of course) until 1995, and went on to do her Master’s degree at Dalhousie University, loves how these events let her connect with her alumni peers. She remembers fondly how her work through New College challenged her to see the world in different ways.

As an Alumni Ambassador, Ekpo says that she has “had the opportunity to serve and give back in that spirit of belonging and community”. As I interacted with her at various points during the Mac and Cheese evening, I couldn’t help but notice how she connected with everybody — she’s bright, attentive and inspiring. During her address to the entire group at the beginning of the evening, her passion for the work was clear.

Throughout the evening, it was made obvious to me that being an active alum at New College is very useful. Of course, it gives the opportunity for networking — but more than that, it provides a support system of people who share New College’s values and your experiences as a New College student.

If you’re still at school here, plan to be involved — it’s so worth it, even from the perspective of someone like me, who’s only been to this single event. If you’re a recent grad, we have so many opportunities that would be helpful to you, including, of course, delicious dinners with a side of mentorship. If you’re a not-so-recent grad and you haven’t been involved yet, that’s okay! Chioma Ekpo herself didn’t get involved until 2013. It’s never too late — so if you want a community, and you’re a New College Alumnus? Look no further.