This past month, 14 starfish graduates got together for their first ever Starfish Alumni Group Meeting! They had the opportunity to share experiences, laugh together, encourage each other, and formulate plans to reach their personal and professional goals. This new group will meet quarterly throughout the year to serve as an ongoing support to graduates as well as a place to network resources.
Today we had the opportunity to talk with one of Starfish’s recent graduates, Mayra Magdalena, and her mentor Andrea. Here are a few things they had to share about the new group:
Starfish: Andrea, what is the ¨Starfish Alumni Group¨ all about?
Andrea: Well, we decided to form an official Alumni group this year in order to best support our graduates, to provide them with a place to go to network and continue building on their professional skills.
Starfish: What led you all to decide that an alumni group was needed?
Andrea: Now that the number of graduates have grown we have been able to see more some of the barriers that they are running into after they graduate and we want to continue to help them. Our goal as an organization is not to just produce graduates, but to produce community leaders and social change agents, so we found it important to see them through this next big transition in their lives, from being students to being professional.
Starfish: What are some of the barriers that Starfish graduates have encountered?
Andrea: Here in Guatemala, it is really hard to find a steady job, especially if you do not have contacts through your family or your social network. Our goal is to provide our students with this network as a way to help channel them on to universities, businesses, and other institutions.
Starfish: What will you be doing in the group to help move these graduates forward?
Andrea: We will be meeting quarterly with the graduates to talk about different topics they have chosen, such as, budget management, techniques for leading groups, business planning, etc. We will be inviting local business owners and leaders to come and speak so that the graduates get first-hand knowledge of how different institutions work who the graduates can network with. We also hope to develop some community projects together where they can give back as well as gain hands-on project development experience.
Starfish: How about you, Mayra? Could you tell us a bit about your experience as a graduate from Starfish?
Mayra: Sure! I have been a part of Starfish for 4 years and graduated this past November. I learned so much through Starfish’s program and am very grateful to be a part of the organization. After graduating I tried applying for different jobs but because I am only 17 I had trouble finding a professional job. Most institutions will not accept an application until you are 18 here, so, Starfish offered me a full-time, one-year internship to help building my resume and to be able to provide for my family through the stipend I receive for my work. I feel very supported by Starfish, that even though I am no longer a student I have not been abandoned, I am still part of the larger Starfish family.
Starfish: This past month you attended the first Starfish Alumni Group Meeting; tell us a bit about that?
Mayra: It was great to get to meet with all the other graduates in one room together. Having all been through the Starfish program, we share a lot in common. We were able to encourage each other and make plans for the upcoming year as to how we can help each other reach our goals. I look forward to the next meeting and topics that we will be covering together.
Posted on February 22, 2013