Your CFANS Story

Paul Hugunin

CFANS Alumni Society Board President Paul Hugunin

The CFANS Alumni Society Board of Directors is excited about the role that we can play in helping students have a positive experience on campus and preparing them for the real world. Several of us helped welcome this fall's incoming freshmen by joining them for lunch during Welcome Week. Seeing their enthusiasm (and nerves!) brought back a flood of memories about what it was like to come to campus "back in the day."

I'll always remember my first days on campus because it was such a challenging time in my life. My mother passed away just days before I left the farm to start my freshman year—at a college that my high school counselor had advised against because, in his words, "it's too big, too impersonal and you'll just be a number."

More than 25 years later, I can still hear those words. And I still treasure the many wonderful people who came into my life during that difficult time and proved him wrong. The faculty, staff and fellow students who welcomed me to campus have become such an important part of who I am, personally and professionally. They're why I'm so passionate about the CFANS Alumni Society. Here are a few ways you can join us in making a difference in the lives of today's students.

Mentor a student! The CFANS mentor program helps students build an off-campus network of professionals in their field. It's easy—you don't have to live in the metro area, state or even in the United States to participate. Just be willing to have at least one quality meeting with your student each month, by phone, in person, via Skype or whatever works best.

Participate in speed networking events. You don't need to be an expert networker; a willingness to listen and offer constructive feedback is all it takes. Watch your email for details and join us!

Volunteer to do an informational interview with a student or to make a classroom visit.

You all have your own CFANS story to tell, even if it wasn't called CFANS when you were on campus! Sharing our stories is the only sure way to make certain prospective students, policymakers and high school counselors know what an amazing resource we have. The same place that gave the world a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the HoneyCrisp apple is positioned to address many of today's greatest challenges, from invasive species to climate change to water management to the next generation of fuels. Far too many people carry the stereotype of a St. Paul campus known only for "sows, plows and cows." And while those things are all still important to the mission of a land-grant institution, it's up to us to help spread the word that CFANS is a leader in addressing the everyday issues facing our land and our society.