Development & Alumni Relations Office 

GRADUATE ASSOCIATIONS AND alumni NETWORKS – CELEBRATING QUEEN’S VOLUNTEERSVolunteer Week 2020 - associations collage against backdrop of coloured hands

02 June 2020

Continuing the celebrations for Volunteers’ Week at Queen’s (1-5 June), we acknowledge those who help to run our alumni networks, and who provide an important connection between the University and our graduates around the world.

Speaking ahead of Volunteers’ Week, Head of Alumni and Supporter Engagement, Ian Moore said: “Each and every one of our 468 alumni volunteers over the last year has played an integral role in the life of Queen’s.

“Whether it’s providing support and guidance to the University on its journey, encouraging and motivating our students to pursue inspirational careers through mentoring or work-related placements or simply keeping the University family connected around the world through our graduate associations, alumni volunteers make such a difference.

“We are hugely grateful to every one of our volunteers for the gifts of time that they give to Queen’s.”

During this week and across a number of different volunteering areas, Queen’s is focusing on some of the many hundreds of graduates who, during the last 12 months, have given their time in support of the University.

Throughout Volunteers’ Week, we are looking at how graduates can get more involved with Queen’s through a variety of volunteering activities, each with varying levels of time commitment:

Today, we acknowledge and thank all those who participate in the running and governance of our alumni associations and chapters, by serving on committees, organising events and keeping graduates in touch with the University and each other.   

Once they leave Queen’s many graduates miss the buzz of the campus and keeping up with the life of the University. They want to connect and network with other former students where they live and work, and to maintain connections with their alma mater. Often, the best way of doing just this is by joining an alumni association or chapter.

“Our associations bridge the gap between alumni and the University,” said Natasha Sharma, Alumni Relations Volunteer Manager, “and our chapters all over the world mean that you are never very far from the Queen’s family.”

Associations are run entirely by volunteers, who take up the challenge of providing members with an events programme that is varied and engaging, and designed to make it easy to stay in touch. Activities range from formal ‘black-tie’ dinners to informal receptions and from lectures to social days – and evenings – out.

“Though the current lockdown does impose restrictions on physical events, details of planned future events – including a number of online/virtual activities – can be found on our events page,” added Natasha.

The main Northern Ireland-based alumni network is the Queen’s Graduates’ Association (QGA). With a membership in excess of 900, the QGA is open to all graduates and final year students of the University and offers a busy and varied programme of events, including the prestigious annual Charter Day Dinner.

To hear current QGA President, Victoria Denoon, explain why she volunteers for Queen’s, click on the image below.

In addition to the QGA there are a number of other graduate associations, including Queen’s Women Graduates (QWG), groups in London (QUAL), Dublin (QUAD) and Scotland (QUAS), branches in the US, China and the Middle East and in Asia, all of which are led by committees of passionate volunteers who care deeply about Queen's. 

In Malaysia, the Queen's University Alumni Association, Malaysia (QUAAM) organises a number of member events each year and assists with University visits to the region including student recruitment, as longstanding committee member Lee Hui Seng explains: “Events for members and joint activities with other graduate networks in Malaysia – along with our Facebook and WhatsApp groups – keep everyone up-to-date with the latest news from Belfast.

“We are always particularly pleased to welcome the Vice-Chancellor and other academic speakers and staff delegations from Queen’s when they are visiting Malaysia and to support the University in whatever way we can.

QUAAM was acknowledged four years ago for its role in supporting staff and students on visits to Malaysia – including providing a delegation of 25 students with a tour of Kuala Lumpur and an introduction to Asian cuisine – for supporting student recruitment initiatives in country and for advising Queen’s staff on cultural issues. The Association was also recognised for fundraising for the McClay Library at Queen’s and for supporting the Students’ Malaysian Society at the University.

“It was a real honour for the QUAAM Committee to win the Volunteer of the Year Award back in 2016. It was wonderful recognition of the work of the Association and, for individual committee members like me it is a reminder that volunteering time to maintain links with local graduates and with the University, is always appreciated by Queen’s.”

Finally, for those who want to play a more active part in the life of the University, there is also Convocation. Set up by statute and with representation on Senate, the University’s governing body, all graduates (and several senior members of staff of the University) are automatically members of Convocation.

Regular business is handled by a Standing Committee, with the assistance of the Clerk of Convocation and there is an opportunity for graduates to stand for election at the Annual Meeting (usually held in November) and to volunteer their time and services to Convocation. Issues discussed and agreed at the Annual Meeting can be brought to Senate by the Chairman.   

“Our associations, alumni chapters and Convocation all offer ways for graduates to volunteer their time and to play an active part in the life of the University,” said Natasha.

“For those graduates who get involved in Queen’s in this way,” she continued, “volunteering offers great networking opportunities and in most cases it has a really positive impact on the individual’s mental health and wellbeing.

“And the more involved you are, the greater the rewards!” she added.

For further details on joining a Queen’s graduate association visit our website. If you would like information on joining the committee of your local association please contact Alumni Relations Volunteering Manager, Natasha Sharma.

For general enquiries about this story or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast.

Volunteering opportunities  

Volunteering can take many forms. Sometimes graduates may not even realise that they are volunteering, or even see themselves as volunteers!

1. Profile provision

Providing a profile photo, along with details of a graduate career path, can have massive benefits. The University can use this information in prospectuses or on our website to inform prospective students of the value of a Queen’s degree. If you would like to volunteer in this way, please draft 300 words (max) outlining your career path and send this, along with a recent high-res profile photo, to Natasha Sharma

2. Associations

Alumni associations and chapters bridge the gap between Queen's graduates and the University all around the world. These groups – and the events and activities they organise – are run by alumni volunteers, who find it a mutually beneficial way of staying in touch. For more on joining or becoming involved in the running of one of our alumni groups at home or around the world, visit our associations’ web page.

3. Mentoring

Volunteer mentors make themselves available as sounding boards for current students and younger graduates. For current students, finding out how best to prepare for the world of work – and how to make progress once they get there – can be life changing. For younger graduates too, having a chance to talk to someone who has already been down the same career path can also be hugely beneficial.

Mentors increase employee knowledge and improve existing skills, can be hugely beneficial in terms of professional and personal development and improve employee satisfaction and retention. For more on mentoring opportunities, please contact Natasha Sharma.  

4. Placements

When alumni introduce us to their organisations, it enables our Work Related Learning and Placement Offices support staff to uncover the potential opportunities by understanding the company needs. By implementing a system that’s been operating for more than 25 years, the right students are then matched to relevant opportunities, such as placements, careers fairs and company visits, to the mutual benefit of both parties, creating long-standing positive relationships with our engaged corporates. Work related learning can even occur virtually, with individual or groups of students. To discuss providing a student placement, please contact Natasha Sharma.   

5. Recruitment

Many graduates give back in another special way, by sharing their positive experiences of Queen’s - and their career path since - with a student holding offer for, or considering applying to, Queen’s. In this way, the graduate adds real credibility to our efforts, as the potential student can hear about the value of a Queen’s degree directly from someone who has attended the University. As a volunteer in this key area, the individual graduate may speak at online recruitment events, stand with us at careers fairs or network with potential students at virtual events. To discuss becoming a recruitment volunteer for Queen's, please contact Natasha Sharma.   

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