Time Capsule: The Beginning of the Alumni Chapter
Dr. Wenli Jen ’04 recounts how the Anteaters in Education got started.
January 23, 2023
"When I stepped back onto the campus, I was instantly nostalgic of my years as a double Anteater. After graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I continued with the teaching credential program from School of Education (at that time, we were still a department). My vivid memories of the program were filled with the sense of curiosity and excitement. As I glanced from side to side, taking it all in, I wondered if I could get involved as an alumna.
In search for alumni opportunities within the School of Education (SOE), I was met with such kindness and openness for me to get involved. At the time, I was asked if I would be willing to participate in the alumni council to increase alumni engagement given my community organizing and community building background. I agreed to assist in developing what was then the Alumni Executive Council and what is now the School of Education Anteaters in Education.
Back in 2014, I was first approached by the director of development to be one the 6-person Alumni Executive Council (AEC), and I was glad to contribute. The first meeting on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, marked the time when the council created mission and goals for an alumni group. Unfortunately, after a few meetings, the AEC no longer met due to staff changes. However, I wanted to still help, and one of my favorite times was having lunch with the two amazing recipients of the scholarship that I had donated to SOE. Finally, in the fall of 2016, I was delighted that there was an effort to work with UCI Alumni Association to formally create the SOE alumni chapter. By 2017, I met with the director of development, Jennifer Stameson, who was instrumental with her team to be the anchor for me to remain involved. From there, I worked with the development team, who were wonderful in the work that they do, to create the UCI School of Education Alumni Chapter. We invited the participation of alumni from several groups on Facebook and previous council members to return and join the combined efforts for the creation of the formal Alumni Chapter.
From six to now 13 members on the alumni chapter board, I was so pleased to see how the alumni group has grown, especially with the leadership of Sarah Garcia, senior associate director of development, in shepherding the alumni chapter. Now recognized formally as Anteaters in Education to be more inclusive of all alumni who are working in education, we are now in our third year with having hosted several events in-person and virtually, with Facebook, Instagram, and our website to keep connected with alumni. Serving as the inaugural president for the UCI SOE alumni chapter was a tremendous honor and to finally see everything come to fruition after so many years really makes me proud to be an Anteater and a graduate of School of Education."