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Young Alumni Reunion expected to attract 3,500 participants

Homecomings events will see a larger turnout than ever before

<p>3,500 participants are expected to return to the University for Young Alumni Reunion, an event giving the last four graduating classes an opportunity to reconnect.</p>

3,500 participants are expected to return to the University for Young Alumni Reunion, an event giving the last four graduating classes an opportunity to reconnect.

When students hear “Homecomings,” one of the first events they think about is the Saturday football game. For recent University alumni, however, “Homecomings” has an entirely new significance — Young Alumni Reunion.

YAR, which started in 2006, is an event that takes place every “Homecomings” weekend and gives the four most recently graduated classes a chance to reconnect.

Jess Hamilton, associate director of young alumni programs, is one of the individuals responsible for planning YAR.

“We wanted to create an environment where young alumni can get together in one place, celebrate and reconnect with their classmates [and] be back on Grounds for a special night,” Hamilton said.

This weekend, 2014 graduate Christine Majewski will attend YAR for the second time.

“I was involved in a ton of things at U.Va., and [YAR] was a really awesome opportunity for me to reconnect with all of the people I served on different organizations with, in different committees [as well as] girls on my club team [and] in my sorority,” Majewski said.

As a post-graduate trustee, Majewski is also responsible for helping with the organization YAR. While the Alumni Association is responsible for the majority of YAR’s planning, the organization looks to the Trustees to spread the word about the event and provide feedback for future years.

2015 graduate Dylan Fogarty also served as a Trustee while attending the University, and he aimed to spread the word about YAR as much as possible.

“Social media is the most effective way to target because you’re always on it,” Fogarty said. “It’s not getting lost in your email, you’re not ignoring it in your texts. One thing we tried to push in the weeks coming up to YAR is finding pictures of us with our friends as undergraduates and posting how excited we are for YAR.”

The effects of the Alumni Association and post-graduate trustees efforts to expand YAR can be seen in the rising numbers of alumni attending.

“Over the years, though, it’s really taken off and we’ve kept it at different locations, different formats, different times to try and find out what [young alumni] want the most,” Hamilton said.

This year, an estimated 3,500 alumni will return to Charlottesville for the weekend to enjoy YAR. This is a large improvement from the couple hundred alumni who attended the first YAR.

Fogarty is looking forward to seeing his former classmates who have moved all over the country since graduating.

“My friends from Canada, Texas and San Diego are all coming back to spend the weekend in Charlottesville,” Fogarty said. “I’ve already cleared off my sofa for them.”

While YAR is an event dedicated specifically to alumni, Homecomings is a weekend of events that can be enjoyed by current students and former students alike. While Homecomings currently plays a large role on Grounds, this was not always the case.

University graduates Ben Powell and Mike Promise noticed something missing from Grounds in 2012, when they were members of Student Council.

“When I got to U.Va., there was a really strong alumni presence during Homecomings but not really among the undergraduate population,” Powell said.

Powell, Promisel and other Student Council members, noticing this absence on Grounds, worked to revive Homecomings among the student population. After drafting a new constitution clause dedicated to Homecomings, they worked to plan events during the weekend that were available to the entire student body.

“Now, Homecomings bridges the gap between students and the alumni,” Powell said.