With commencement around the corner, Virginia Tech is getting ready to celebrate its new graduates in the Class of 2020 and welcome a whole new cohort of alumni.

As the newly minted graduates move on from Virginia Tech and into new lives, some older alumni might tell them it is not too early to consider an active new relationship with the place they called home for the past few years. 

At the Pamplin College of Business, several alumni have noted the importance of getting involved and maintaining ties with Virginia Tech.

Negar Jamshidimehr, a tax manager at EY, is among the young alumni who have stayed actively involved. Jamshidimehr, who received a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2011 and a master’s in accounting and information systems in 2013, says that as a student, she had “benefited tremendously” from her interactions with and mentorship from alumni and professors. As a result, she was eager to give back as soon as she graduated.

As the vice chair of the Accounting and Information Systems Emerging Leaders Board and a mentor in the Pamplin Undergraduate Mentoring Program, Jamshidimehr advises students during her campus visits that they do not need to wait 10 or 15 years after graduation to get involved — “mentoring is what you can be doing as soon as you graduate.”

For Shirley Edwards, being an active alumna evolved naturally from her student leader days, as president of Beta Alpha Psi. As a young accounting professional, she returned to Virginia Tech as a recruiter for her firm and as a classroom speaker on industry topics. These activities, said Edwards, who received her bachelor’s degree in 1982, kept her connected with campus and, she said, “very importantly for me, with the faculty.” 

“Maintaining those connections really kept me grounded with Pamplin and the university, so that as I progressed in my career, that level of involvement continued to progress.” Edwards, a partner at EY, joined her department’s board and eventually the Pamplin Advisory Council.

Kenneth Cooke, a vice president-controller at American Express, valued what he received from Virginia Tech so much he began making small donations soon after graduation. He seized other opportunities to expand his ties with the university. 

Inspired by other alumni, Cooke accepted one invitation to join a departmental advisory board, and later another for the Pamplin Advisory Council. “I was asked, and I said ‘yes.’ Along the way, I started asking others to get more engaged.” As a result, he said he has connected with alumni he never would have met otherwise. 

Perhaps the greatest legacy of an alumnus, said Kevin Lane, a principal at Deloitte who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting, is in the other Hokies they inspire and whose lives they touch or make a difference, not just in building successful careers but in developing a deeper and richer relationship with Pamplin and Virginia Tech.

Jamshidimehr, Edwards, Cooke, and Lane were among the 300-plus alumni and friends who showed up for Pamplin’s Engagement Summit last fall at the Hotel Roanoke. 

The event brought the college’s senior volunteer leaders — members of Pamplin’s 21 organizations of alumni and friends — together with Dean Robert Sumichrast and Pamplin department heads and other program leaders to discuss the state of the college’s alumni engagement and the role such activities — including board service, event participation, and philanthropy — can play in the college’s efforts to transform business education for the 21st century through its planned Global Business and Analytics Complex.

“The summit was an unprecedented networking opportunity for us to exchange ideas, partner with one other, and plan to shape the future of the college,” said Sumichrast afterwards.

Read more about Pamplin’s plans to mobilize its volunteers in the spring issue of Virginia Tech Business, the college’s alumni magazine, available online now.

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