When the new class of incoming freshmen arrives at UC later this month, nearly 600 will represent northeastern Ohio. Some will have a head-start on their UC experience because they attended last week’s Senior Sendoff, held at the offices of arguably Ohio’s premier newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and hosted by regional alumni network leader and Plain Dealer sportswriter Branson Wright.
Senior Sendoffs are held in several cities each summer to help ease the college transition as these newest Bearcats prepare to head to Cincinnati. Students attend (usually with their parents) and get acquainted with their peers while receiving a warm UC welcome from UC Alumni Association staff and volunteers.
“These incoming students have already researched, visited and selected UC, but Senior Sendoffs provide a tangible, personal touch with the UC Family just before they start classes,” said Wright, who graduated from UC in 1989. “We had upwards of 65 students and their parents at our Sendoff on Aug. 9. They’ll leave for UC with a greater comfort level for having met some alumni and their fellow northeastern Ohio freshmen here.”
This was the Cleveland area’s first Senior Sendoff in several years, reflecting a revitalized alumni network. As Wright and his fellow network leaders look to grow the event, they can emulate the example a couple hours down I-71, where the Columbus network has elevated its Senior Sendoff. That effort is led by Scott Simmers, CEAS ’83, and hosted by Ashland Inc., where Simmers is Director of Global Engineering Solutions. His involvement with the event began when he accompanied his UC-bound son to a Sendoff several years ago and saw growth potential.
“I agreed to coordinate the event, and Ashland has been very gracious by hosting the event here in our Dublin offices,” said Simmers. “We have worked on marketing it each year to the new UC students from central Ohio, and last year more than 130 people attended.”
The number of incoming UC freshmen from central Ohio rivals northeastern Ohio; just under 500 will be coming to campus this month. Those who attend this year’s Columbus Senior Sendoff on Aug. 16 will hear from current UC Student Body President Lane Hart among other Bearcats, enjoy a meal in the Ashland cafeteria, and participate in a raffle for UC Bookstore gift cards.
Of the 4,200+ freshmen scheduled to arrive on UC’s Uptown campus this month, 88% are from Ohio, with Kentucky and Indiana next in line. Cleveland and Columbus are the “flagships” for the alumni networks’ Senior Sendoffs, with other cities participating as warranted, if on a smaller scale. For example, volunteers treated a number of new freshmen in Indianapolis to Skyline Chili on Indy’s north side earlier this month. The UC Alumni Association expects to add Dayton to the Senior Sendoff roster next year.
“This ‘Alumni Association touch’ is important since the freshmen are just beginning a lifelong relationship with their university and alumni association,” Wright said. “Many of these students will return to their home cities after graduation, while many others will go wherever work takes them.
“Our message is that through the vast UC Family and our alumni networks nationwide, UC and the UC Alumni Association will always be with them.”