Given the diverse ages, nationalities, careers, and addresses among the MIT Sloan alumni who gathered for the C-Function that kicked off Reunion 2005, it's no surprise that the motivations for attending were equally far ranging. But who expected to find someone who wanted to meet people who might give her a shot at doing stand-up comedy?
Riva Poor, '70, was the would-be comedian. She just returned from completing a year-long course at the School of Comedy at the Humber School of Creative & Performing Arts in Toronto. Surprisingly, she said, the curriculum there required even more homework than she recalled having at MIT Sloan. Who knew comedy was such tough work!
The enthusiastic alumni who gathered at the MIT Sloan Plaza included many first-time reunion-goers, such as Darcy Ytterdahl, '95. She missed her fifth-year reunion because her daughter was due to be born at the same time. Now an executive recruiter in Pittsburgh, Ytterdahl said she definitely has benefited from being part of the MIT Sloan network. “The School's class size makes it easier to network,” she said. “When you call another Sloanie, you're not one of a thousand classmates calling.”
Sam Levine, '90, was another first-time reunion attendee. Levine, who runs technical development for IntelliReach Corporation, said, “After 15 years, I feel it's time to start getting more involved with Sloan, and attending this reunion is my first step.”
Graduates from the Class of 2004 were also on hand, eagerly discussing their experiences of the past year. Among them was Caroline Seaman, who is participating in a leadership program at United Technologies that now has her working at Pratt Whitney in Hartford, Conn.
“It has helped a lot to know Sloan grads in other divisions of United Technologies,” she said. “It has helped me do a better job, and the network has helped me get new slots in each new rotation.”
For Stan Fung, who cochaired the Class of 1990 Reunion Committee along with John Kenney, participating in reunion planning is one of many activities he is involved in at MIT Sloan and at MIT in general. Head of a venture capital firm in Burlington, Mass., Fung has served as a judge for the MIT 50K Entrepreneurship Competition, among other activities.
“We looked at this 15th year reunion as a career midpoint and came up with a theme of ‘Past, Present & Future’,” said Fung. “In an online survey we did, it was interesting that of the 40 classmates who responded, one-third are looking to establish a new venture in a similar field or in a different field in the next five years. So even 15 years out of Sloan, people still have new ideas and are looking for new opportunities.”
Two reunion attendees who didn't make it to the C-Function had a much longer perspective on their MIT Sloan experience: Rog Olen and Dean Bensley, two members of the Class of '55 who attended the Dean's Luncheon on Saturday. As members of MIT Sloan's second class, the two former MIT Sloan roommates have maintained a life-long friendship that included forming a successful company together.
Bensley reported that this was his first reunion. When his good friend Olen called and encouraged him to attend, he figured that “after 50 years, I ought to do that!”
“The size of the School, of course, is tremendously different, so it's hard to compare our experience with today,” he said. “But I found it to be a really rewarding and great experience when I was here.”