Before Thanksgiving break, I was able to attend the annual Young Alumni Achievement Awards. This event is something that has occurred each year since I became an ambassador a few years ago, but this was the first year I had been able to attend.
From left, seated, are Karen Marr Sudders ’05, M’07; Jonneé Tonsel ’09; and Kimberley Miller ’02. Standing are IUP President Michael Driscoll, Phillip Chavira ’06, Robert Kervin ’02, and Jennifer Swartz ’07.
The Young Alumni Achievement Awards is a luncheon attended by a notable alumni from each college at IUP, along with their guests and other notable people that participate in alumni events. Here, the alumni (who have graduated in the past 15 years) are presented with awards for their accomplishments within their respective fields.
This year, I was asked to be a student host to one of the alumni receiving an award, Phillip Chavira. Upon arriving to the awards luncheon, I met Phillip, who I was eager to talk to. Anytime we are able to meet alumni who have graduated and achieved amazing things, I always get anxious. It’s crazy to think that just a few years ago, he was in my shoes as a senior at IUP. Phillip and I talked a bit about his life in New York and the accomplishments he’s had as a Broadway producer. I’m sure that he will only go further in the future, especially because he is so young.
Phillip earned his undergraduate degree in Theater at IUP in 2006 and then refined his resume with an MBA from Fordham University. He cofounded Partly Cloudy People, which produces theater as a means to create awareness and to fundraise for a variety of nonprofit and education groups. In 2014, he joined Davelle and coproduced Danai Gurira’s Tony Award-winning play “Eclipsed.”
It was neat to see lots of distinguished alumni coming back to campus and seeing their reactions to how much the campus has changed. I had discussions with various alumni about the atmosphere of the campus and all of the new buildings. They all mentioned that campus looks completely different from when they attended here. Listening to each of the young alumni give their speeches was quite moving, and it made me think about myself and what I’m going to be doing in my future. I’m a communications major, and my department is always pushing us to network and meet other people.
Being a part of the IUP Ambassadors opens so many doors for me, even within my major. I’m always grateful when I am able to attend events that the ambassadors assist with, especially because they provide me with such great opportunities for my future career and self.