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Guest Column: The Spirit of Connection

Ayanna McConnell reflects on the graduating class and how they connect to the wider Wolverine alumni family.
By Ayanna McConnell


Read time: 2 minutes
Woman holding a cell phone up for a selfie-style photo with a large group of college students and Alumni Association staff posed behind to fit in frame with her
Ayanna McConnell (front) with LEAD Scholar graduates and Alumni Association staff at the 2024 Steve and Carol Grafton LEAD Senior Celebration. Photo by Emily Lynn.

Thank you Wolverines for the warm welcome during this first half of 2024! It has been joyous to connect with Alumni Association members, volunteers, and alumni of all generations — from 1960s grads to members of the class of 2023 — in your communities. Whether in New York or Silicon Valley, Lansing or Taipei, on campus or a Zoom call, your feedback, ideas, and encouragement are meaningful to me. Time and again, two themes emerge from these conversations:

You understand the impact of your U-M experience on your personal and professional lives. Your Michigan community is sustained through lifelong relationships that include friends, spouses, colleagues, and mentors, just to name a few. The total of your classes, student organizations, and co-curricular learning is magnified by your unbridled enthusiasm for U-M.

You want to know how to connect with each other, support current Wolverines, and engage with the University. My goal for the future of the Alumni Association is to continue to offer diverse and seamless opportunities to do so.

Your impact goes well beyond the University of Michigan. Kudos to the 50-plus alumni clubs and affiliates who participated in Michigan Community Service Day in April and May to celebrate commencement and to support those in need.

Please join me in warmly welcoming the class of 2024 graduates from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint campuses to the U-M alumni family. We will benefit from their resilience, energy, and innovation.

Read onward for many compelling stories in this issue, including:

  • A celebration of Pride month with our cover story on Kathy Kozachenko, ’11, Nancy Wechsler, ’71, and Jerry DeGrieck, ’80
  • Take a look at what’s in store with Vision 2034 (spoiler alert: many great things)
  • Get peek into Andrea Joyce’s, ’76, accomplishments just ahead of the Olympics
  • And finally, relax into summer vibes with our feature on the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

Ayanna McConnell is the president and CEO of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.

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