New Southeastern initiative links alumni with freshmen

Monday, November 7, 2016 Career Connect
by: Tonya Lowentritt

CONNECTING WITH SUCCESSFUL SOUTHEASTERN ALUMNI – Edward Larkin, left, a Southeastern Louisiana University freshman business administration major from Metairie, meets with Randy Vicknair, a Southeastern graduate and vice president with First Guaranty Bank in Hammond, about career opportunities in banking. The interview was part of Career Connect, a collaborative effort of the Center for Student Excellence, the Southeastern Alumni Association, and University Advancement.

     HAMMOND – Freshman students at Southeastern Louisiana University are getting an advance look into possible careers through a new program that connects them with area alumni who work in their prospective fields.
     Through a new academic initiative titled Career Connect, Southeastern is calling on its alumni to serve as student mentors. It is part of the university’s Real-World Ready effort that provides students with experiential learning opportunities, including internships, service-learning courses, research, artistic and field experiences, and other opportunities.
     Launched this semester, the project is a collaborative effort of the Center for Student Excellence, the Southeastern Alumni Association, and University Advancement. The program is offered through the Southeastern 101 course, a freshman success course intended to provide students with academic and career advising, development of study plans to help achieve their goals, and exploration of career possibilities. Approximately 86 alumni have been matched with students thus far with plans to involve more alumni volunteers in the future.
     “We have had many of our alumni ask how they can help our current students,” said Julie Perise, interim director of the Southeastern Alumni Association. “Career Connect gives them the opportunity to provide mentoring services through interviews with one or more freshmen about their careers and how their education benefited them in their current position.”
     The alumni volunteers are asked to participate with the student in an approximate hour long interview, either in person or over the telephone, and/or provide a job shadow day, said Kandace Formaggio, freshman academic advisor. Volunteers may also be able to speak to a class if they choose.
     “The Career Connect project helps freshman students learn more about their future careers by linking them with a successful alumnus in the field,” Formaggio said. “We want students to connect with alumni and learn about their experiences, their career fields in general, and what they should be doing in college to prepare for their future careers.”
     Edward Larkin, a freshman business administration major from Metairie, said the program is helping him on his path toward a successful career in banking. The alumnus he interviewed was Randy Vicknair, a vice president with First Guaranty Bank in Hammond.
     “In my interview with Mr. Vicknair, I wanted to find out what it takes to become an officer in a bank and what I need to do at Southeastern to be exactly where he is today,” Larkin said. “Through our interview, I learned that in the banking industry, interpersonal skills are crucial, as is a good understanding of finances, money and economics. This is what separates those who have a job because they need a job from those who have a job because they love the career.”
     Vicknair is a 2004 Southeastern finance graduate and a 2007 graduate of the Southeastern MBA program. He is chief credit officer at the bank and says he is enjoying serving as a mentor in the Career Connect project.
     “When I received the request for alumni to register for Career Connect, I was excited about the opportunity to interact with Southeastern students and, hopefully, provide advice that is beneficial for their careers,” Vicknair said. “The value of Career Connect is the program’s ability to expose students to the industry or career they plan to pursue. These early interactions with experienced individuals enable students to explore multiple career opportunities and identify the field that excites them. As we all know, ‘You never work a day in your life when you are doing something you enjoy.’”
     Alumni interested in serving as mentors should contact Formaggio at 985-549-5978 or at

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