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Membership Has Its Privileges

It pays to join the Northwestern Alumni Association club network.


Looking for a great investment? Try a membership in a Northwestern alumni club.

The NAA sponsors more than 50 regional clubs in metropolitan areas around the United States — and international clubs in China, England, Japan and Switzerland. The University's 11 national clubs transcend geographic boundaries and unite alumni based on culture and identity interests. Throughout the year, regional and national club members gather for casual get-togethers, cultural activities, career networking nights and educational events. They also support students through scholarships and welcome parties, and they're usually among the first to turn out for local performances that feature alumni.

For less than a quarter a day — annual membership to regional and national clubs generally runs about $25 per year — alumni club members gain a variety of benefits — from discounted admission to club functions and invitations to exclusive local events to access to social and professional contacts that they may not get anywhere else.

Rosemarie Atkin Kitchin (J61), a former member of the NU Club of Los Angeles, sought out local alumni when she made the move to Chapel Hill, N.C., to keep her ties to Northwestern alive. She became part of a group that established the NU Club of the North Carolina Triangle, and as president, she reaches out to current undergraduates, often extending the invitation to attend the annual new student picnic.

One of the club's newest members, Cheryl Bielinski, didn't attend Northwestern at all but joined after attending last year's new student picnic with her daughter, Brooke, now a sophomore premed student in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Bielinski says that getting to know families of other new students has been an added benefit for both mother and daughter, because they've been able to keep in touch and occasionally coordinate travel and other deliveries to campus.

For Jessica Smollen Tolman (WCAS93), who relocated from the Chicago area to Boston in 1999, connecting with alumni through the NU Club of Boston helped her acclimate to her new surroundings and meet new people. She applied her professional skills as a development officer for Boston's Museum of Fine Arts to her work on the then-fledgling alumni club board and later, as president, helped the club increase membership and expand programming. Now as an at-home mother with a 2-year-old daughter and the owner of a new interior decorating business, she stays involved as a club board member and attends events when time allows.

"I've been privileged to meet a really wonderful group of alums, and on a professional level, I know that I have a lot of resources to draw upon within that group should I seek to re-enter the workforce," Tolman says.

Club membership also allows alumni to participate in current happenings on campus. For example, members of the national Northwestern University Asian and Asian-American Alumni Association joined with the student Asian Pacific American Coalition for a rally last April to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the three-week hunger strike at the Rock that helped inspire the creation of the Asian American Studies Program at Northwestern.

NU-A5 president David Chan (WCAS99) says that in addition to offering cultural and networking events for members, the club hopes to serve as a resource for students and young alumni who would like mentoring help.

Young alumni looking to progress in their careers gain valuable experience through club membership, not only through career networking events but as volunteer leaders. "You can literally watch leadership ability grow," says JoEllen Bendall (J80), president of the NU Club of Indianapolis. "It's something that not only benefits the club, but watching an individual develop into a great leader is incredibly fulfilling."

Many clubs offer registration online and by phone or mail. Club members can also participate in the new Northwestern University Club Scholarship Program that provides tuition assistance to local students and a tax deduction to contributors. Launched last year, the program raised nearly $12,000 from 17 clubs.

What are you waiting for? Learn more about the many benefits of club membership. Visit or call 877-NU2JOIN.

NU Club of San Francisco Bay Area
This summer the NU Club of the San Francisco Bay Area hosted a Young Alumni and Current Students Day at SBC Park.