After graduating from Minnesota State University, Mankato, the love and dedication to the University does not disappear. MNSU’s Alumni Association gathers alumni together throughout the year to celebrate them and the school.
Brian Zins, Director of Alumni Relations at MNSU, works to create an inviting environment for alumni to return to their old stomping grounds.
“The Alumni Association works on behalf of roughly 130,000 living alumni that we have and works to find ways to engage them, wherever they’re at in life,” Zins explained. “We’re actively looking to create ways to reconnect [alumni] with the campus.”
With the absence of homecoming celebrations last year due to COVID-19, Zins has planned out a large celebration for those returning students.
“The biggest thing that we’re doing is on Saturday, October 2, we’ll be having the Alumni Zone at the football game. That is a large tent with food, drink, giveaways, things like that prior to the football game. We’ve already sold out that tent, we’ve got about 175 alumni and their family coming to that event.”
The Alumni Association will also be a part of the Homecoming Parade that will take place Saturday, Oct. 2 at noon on Warren St. and Stadium Rd. to showcase the alumni that have traveled back to Mankato.
Alyssa Lillehaugen, a 2018 graduate and Alumni Board member, has visited Mankato for every homecoming game since she graduated and was influenced by this to work with the Alumni Association.
“I come back to campus whenever I can and participate in sporting events. I’ve also come back and I’ve done on-campus panels for (College of Science, Engineering and Technology) and I’ve also been back for recruiting fairs for the job fairs that they [the University] have in the spring and fall.”
Being a Maverick holds a strong meaning to Lillehaugen, as she’s not the only member of her family to attend MNSU.
“My mom was also a Mankato grad, so for me it’s being able to carry out the legacy of being a Mankato alum,” Lillehaugen stated. “I really enjoy being able to give back to the University because it got me to where I am today and without the University I don’t think I would have had the same opportunities that I have.”
Lillehaugen is one of many alumni coming together to put on the Alumni Zone, and is thrilled to be back for in-person activities again.
“It’ll be good to get back on campus and see the energy that the students put out because it’s fun to be around people that are all excited about football and the University in general,” Lillehaugen added.
To put alum in the Maverick spirit before game day, the association is planning on showing the graduates around the campus.
“We’re actually getting quite a few requests for alumni tours. People want to come and actually have someone take them around and kind of explain what we have up here because things have changed significantly in the years,” Zins stated.
But the work doesn’t stop after homecoming. Zins discussed his goals to create a closer bond between current MNSU students and those who have already graduated.
“To me, the one thing I’d like to see more of is more opportunities for our alumni to connect with our current students. The one thing we hear all the time, alumni love to come back and mingle with each other and talk about those things that happened in the past. When it really gets fun is when you can get them in touch with the current students who can talk about what’s happening now and what they want to do in the future.”