More than 400 alumni from around the world returned to Central European University for this year’s Alumni Reunion Weekend.
Held from May 2-4, the reunion weekend emphasized the connections shared by CEU’s growing alumni community. The weekend’s events were organized by the Alumni Relations Office and were equal parts festive, lighthearted and inspirational.
Festivities kicked off with a Welcome Evening on the CEU rooftop and continued until the annual Spring Ball came to a close. Activities included a “Living Library,” where current students could speak to alumni about their experiences; several Alumni Coffeehouses that gave graduates the chance to catch up over a cup of coffee; the Alumni Leadership Forum for alumni volunteers; tours of CEU’s campus; and, of course, the always enjoyable Alumni Gala.
Here are a few of our favorite events from the reunion:
Our spirited celebration of community and family—the CEU One Alumni Reunion Gala—drew alumni from 50 countries and graduating classes spanning 1992 to 2018. More than 300 CEU alumni and friends attended, making it the biggest gala in years.
During his welcome remarks, Vice President for Enrollment, Careers and Alumni Relations Serge Sych (IRES ’97, LEGS ’99) spoke of the power of reunions to “shorten the distance’” between alumni, the university and each other. “Welcome home,” he told those gathered.
Several alumni couples were in attendance, including some who brought their children and parents. While delivering the gala’s keynote speech, President and Rector Michael Ignatieff pointed to one alumni couple’s daughter and said, “I want to make sure there’s a CEU for that little girl to go to. And for her children as well. Universities are forever.”
The gala was hosted by students Jorge Antonio Chavez Mazuelos (IR ‘19) and Tetiana Horban (IR ‘20), who narrated a nostalgic ode to student days. Later, student Rebeca Marques Rocha (SPP ’20) spun a DJ set that included alumni-selected tracks, another throwback to student days. Jorge, Tetiana and Rebeca are among this year’s class of Alumni Scholarship Recipients.
The gala concluded after a lively dance party and group photo session, and many alumni left for the Spring Ball, an event for current students and alumni hosted by CEU’s Student Union.
Alumni Leadership Forum
The backbone of CEU’s alumni family are the graduates who work hard to keep their fellow alumni connected to the university and to each other. Every year, CEU welcomes alumni chapter leaders and volunteers from around the world to gather, discuss community building and share ideas at the two-day Alumni Leadership Forum.
The forum also provides CEU with the opportunity to thank volunteers for their work and to hear their experiences of what works in the field. This year’s Forum included the symposium “Achievements, Challenges and Goals,” which focused on the art of community building and giving back.
During one forum event, Petra Chaloupkova, a 2011 Nationalism Studies graduate from the Czech Republic, and Anar Mehdiyev, a 2002 Environmental Sciences and Policy graduate from Azerbaijan, spoke to a group of current CEU students about joining or forming local alumni chapters when they return to their home countries after graduation. Chaloupkova stressed the importance of connecting with alumni in both formal and casual ways. “It’s great if we are able to bond a few times a year and remind ourselves of our CEU experiences,” she said.
Nearly 20 alumni participants from well-established local chapters, as well as those from newly minted chapters in China, India and Russia, attended the Forum.
Alumni Living Library
During the Living Library, current students had a unique opportunity to interact with alumni one-on-one. Eleven alumni from 10 different countries served as “books,” lending their time to the student “readers.”
The library was hosted by the Career Services Office and created a space for CEU’s diverse community of students and alumni to discuss career development in an informal, yet informative and helpful, way. Alumni had the opportunity to tell their stories of professional progress, personal growth and impressions along their career journeys. Students had the opportunity to interact, network and learn from alumni working in a variety of fields.
Edlira Majko (IRES, ’09), a living library participant, shared how her experience at CEU impacted her future and her commitment to community: “CEU opened many doors for me to new cultures, new friends and job opportunities. I'd always believed in social justice and equality, but CEU has strengthened the drive in me to do something to help, to contribute to society. I'm from the Roma community. I first came here for the Roma Access Program, then I did my master's in the Department of International Relations, so CEU helped me contribute to my own community, as well.”