How to find your alumni family

By Sophia Zengierski, alumna, English (Hons), 2012

Recently, I was able to reconnect with a favourite musical, Into the Woods, and I realized it spoke to the St Andrean lifestyle. There are, as they say, “giants in the sky,” and I’m pretty sure fourth-years still write about them in Viewpoint, the Saint’s Op/Ed section. But, as St Andreans (particularly those of us very far from Scotland), here’s what we should remember – “someone is on your side, no one is alone.”

I admit it was something I’d forgotten myself well into my first few months back in New York. But I was lucky. Through the vast amount of 600th Anniversary events, I found the University of St Andrews Alumni Club of New York – kind of by accident – and in them, a new family.

We host several events throughout the year, beginning with the Welcoming Reception in theNew York Club 2 fall and ranging from casual gatherings to participating in the Tartan Day Parade. Club membership also qualifies you for membership to the Princeton Club of New York, which can quickly become a place of respite after a long day at the office.

While we’d like to think we do all of this in style, that’s only the half of it. Since participating in these events and becoming Membership Secretary for the Club, I’ve met some truly fabulous peers. I’ve worked with people who graduated when I was only considering the University, and I’ve conversed with parents of current students. Sure, there’s an age gap and we’re all at different points in our lives and careers, but fundamentally we’re St Andreans and that’s a hell of a lot to have in common.New York Club 1

I love this city. I love it quite possibly more than any place in the world, but with my St Andrews family here on my side, I love it all the more. And for anyone headed our way, I think you will too.

For more information on the University of St Andrews Alumni Club of New York, visit our website or Facebook page, or contact Sophie on membership@alumniclubny.com.  Wondering about alumni clubs in other cities?  Check out the complete list!

So you think you can Dance(Soc)?

By Kay White, second-year student studying German and International Relations

Kay WhiteAt the beginning of May a little bit of Hollywood arrived in St Andrews for the University of St Andrews Dance Society’s annual show, fittingly entitled ‘Razzle Dazzle’. This night of epic proportions showcased talent from the thriving society, allowing each of the 18 classes, ranging from classical ballet to head-spinning break-dance, the chance to perform. With over 150 performers this was a huge organisational feat for show convenor Jessica Biggs, but nonetheless the show raised over £4,000 in ticket sales.

The Society – known informally as DanceSoc, with over 250 members, 18 classes per week, a prize-winning dance team and over 30 teachers and committee members –  is one of the biggest and most diverse societies affiliated with both the Students’ Association and the Athletic Union. The Society has grown considerably over the past year and has raised nearly £3,000 for its charities: Children in Hope and Multiple System Atrophy Trust.

I have taught a dance class for the society for the past year and it has been an incredibly rewarding and challenging experience. My General Hip-Hop class had 25-30 attendees every week, despite the awkward time slot of 8pm-9pm on a Saturday night. It was a fantastic feeling to see students perform on stage, especially as some had never danced before coming to my class. The social side of the Society has thrived this year and the 1920s-themed Prohibition Ball at the start of second semester was a huge success and attracted dancers and non-dancers and former students as well as current. We even featured an alumna who now runs an Irish Dance Company in Edinburgh and came back with her dancers to perform!

In fact, many alumni support the show by buying tickets and donating costumes from previous years.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of space in the Sports Centre and a high demand of AU clubs for practice space, the DanceSoc classes are being forced to use inadequate practice spaces in the Town Hall and the Victoria Memorial Hall. Teachers are being forced to teach without mirrors and use floors that are inappropriate for their style of dance. This has meant that the bargain membership cost of just £10 for the entire year (attending as many classes as you like) has been raised to £15 to cover the costs of renting these facilities.

DanceSoc President Lottie Barker says that hours in the Sports Centre are of “vital importance to the expansion and improvement of the Society as a whole”.

The Society hopes to introduce two more classes this year as well as a second ‘Blue Angels’ competition team in order to be able to offer more dance styles and abilities to please a wider variety of people in the Society – but this unfortunately means more space and time from the Athletic Union. DanceSoc is a friendly and inclusive society and will hopefully benefit from the redevelopment of the Students’ Association Building and the Sports Centre.

Asking the DanceSoc President what the most rewarding thing about being a part of the Society is, she says: “I have met some of my best friends through my dance classes and feel like it is a society that welcomes students from all walks of life.”

The Sports Centre redevelopment, as part of the 600th Anniversary campaign, aims to expand and improve the current facilities, but more time as well as space is necessary for the ever-expanding number of sports and classes. Your support can help contribute to this huge project. For further information on the events and achievements of the University of St Andrews Dance Society, please like our Facebook page or email dance@saints-sport.ac.uk to subscribe to our biannual alumni newsletter.

Cramming for exams, crossing the stage and making a difference

2013 Class Gift CommitteeMy unique experience at the University of St Andrews inspired me to become involved in Class Gift so that I could work to help all students have the opportunity that I have had. Bursaries and scholarships can make a huge impact on student life, and are certainly a worthwhile cause for Class Gift 2013. – Alex Thornton-Reid, Class Gift 2013 Chair

Class Gift was first established in 2009 by a group of graduating students with the intention of leaving a legacy to the University and to their fellow students when they graduated. This year’s Class Gift Committee, in partnership with the Students’ Association’s Your600th Campaign, has been hard at work throughout the year to promote 2013 Class Gift with the aim of raising £7,000 to help establish the Students’ Association Bursary Fund.

Class Gift was first established in 2009 by a group of graduating students with the intention of leaving a legacy to the University and to their fellow students when they graduated.

Our thanks go to Lightbox for all their hard work in producing the video.

In first semester we worked hard to promote Class Gift with our launch party in November and then handing out free coffee outside the Library during Revision Week. Yes, it was cold, but entirely worth it as we got to speak to so many students about Class Gift and tell them what we were aiming to do for the year.

I couldn’t have imagined a better time at University and am very keen that other students get the opportunity to enjoy a similar experience. For this reason I wanted to be part of the Class Gift 2013 – to ensure that every deserving student has the chance to become a St Andrean.  – Catriona Miller, Class Gift 2013 Committee

We also produced the Class Gift Christmas cards which featured the ‘Human Coat of Arms‘ image produced by the Hungpao Society for the 600th Anniversary. We sold these at many of the events around Christmas, including the London Alumni Club’s 600th Anniversary Service of Thanksgiving in St Paul’s Cathedral.

This semester we were honoured to be able to work with the Charities Campaign and RAG Week 2013 with the RAG Week Ceilidh. This was a resounding success and not only raised awareness and money for the Class Gift, but it also was great fun for all those who came along.

This year, all proceeds raised by Class Gift will be going towards establishing the Students’ Association Bursary Fund. Class gift logoThis is a newly established needs-based bursary in commemoration of the 600th Anniversary, providing funding for students who otherwise would not be able to have the opportunity of studying at St Andrews. Click here to learn how you can make the Students’ Association Bursary Fund a reality this year.

As we get closer to Graduation 2013 we are reaching the climax of our fundraising period. We want to get as many people involved as possible in order to reach our target.  Supporting is easy – just text Grad13£5 (or GRAD13£10) to 70070, and your gift will come off your next mobile bill.

Keep up to date with Class Gift through our Facebook page

To donate take a look at our website

For more information about Class Gift 2013, please contact the Chair: Alexandra Thornton-Reid, at496@st-andrews.ac.uk

I joined the Class Gift because I love St Andrews and want to see it be the best it can be. That definitely involves helping the best students be able to attend, regardless of their financial background.”- Juliana Cusack, Class Gift 2013 Committee