When Craig Yocham and his wife Jennifer received an invitation this spring to attend their first PSU Gorilla Gathering in their hometown of Tulsa, Okla., they weren’t certain what the evening would hold.
But within minutes of walking through the door, the meaning of being a lifetime Gorilla came flooding back.
“We wanted the opportunity to go and meet people in our area who had graduated from PSU, and it was so interesting listening to their stories,” said Yocham, a business development project manager who finished his engineering technology degree in 2003. “We don’t make it to Pittsburg as much as we’d like, so it was great to get the updates.”
Hosted by the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations, Gorilla Gatherings are held throughout the country during the school year as a way to build relationships with alumni, update them on the university, and give them a chance to hear from current administrators about university initiatives and programs. Held in a variety of forms (gatherings range from more formal dinners to cookouts at ballgames) every gathering has a common goal – to keep alumni engaged in and connected to PSU.
“I think that for most alumni, the biggest thing is the reconnection to other graduates,” said Johnna Schremmer, director of alumni and constituent relations. “It brings them back to their college years. It may be the one time of year they can really focus on PSU, and they tell us how appreciative they are that we’ve come to their area and provided that for them.”
With 70-80 Gorilla Gatherings held each year (including two in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.), it’s no small feat. A prominent university representative attends each gathering, and the agenda is simple and enjoyable: guests hear an update about the university, see the latest pictures from campus, hear about upcoming events, and hopefully run into old friends.
“We saw friends we hadn’t seen in years, and now we’re staying in closer contact with them,” said Yocham. “People should definitely attend these. It was great to see that PSU leaders are networking and traveling.”