Reasons to create an alumni association – questions and answers

We recently interviewed Arman Konkobay the Executive Director of “NU Alumni” a newly formed public association, about the organization’s formation, upcoming activities and plans.  Arman graduated from Nazarbayev University’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2015.

– After the first graduation in 2015, at the initiative of a small group of graduates the University created  in March 2016  an Alumni Association to unite and create a strong professional network of NU alumni.  However, the association was not registered or recognized as a public organization until November 8, 2018.  Since 2015, the total number of graduates of Nazarbayev University has grown to over 2,600 people.  Due to our university’s successful growth, we decided that it is time to register officially as a public association.  So, in November 2018 the association was officially registered and acquired a new legal status. We want to focus on supporting alumni initiatives and engaging with the NU community. When deciding to publicly register the new association, we decided to look around the world for models of how other institutions had developed their Alumni organizations.  We found examples of best practices from other countries and used them as reference points for NU Alumni.

 What are your responsibilities as the head of the Association?

– First of all, our Association is intended for all University graduates who want to maintain a connection with their Alma mater. We plan to establish a scholarship fund through donations from NU graduates to support a variety of future university students.  This scholarship fund should especially support those who are from the socially vulnerable segments of the population, or those students who are particularly distinguished members of the NU community, working on interesting social projects or important aspects of community life.  We also plan to create an Institute for Mentoring, where alumni will  mentor currently enrolled students. Although this mentoring is already practiced on a small scale, we want to formalize it and work in a more systematic way.

Also, we hope to hold an annual forum for alumni, where graduates will meet to discuss the various difficulties they face after graduating from the university.  We have begun to implement the above ideas, and are planning much more.

We are still at the beginning of our journey, so the main task for us now is to establish the work of the organization, to convey to the University community the goal and mission of NU Alumni, and to begin growing a solid network of alumni.

What do you think is the benefit of creating such associations of graduates?

– I think that the creation of such an association is very important both for graduates and for the University itself.  For graduates, the alumni association will help them to organize and use their professional and social ties for networking, and also with their future employment.  For the University, the alumni association can partner to host events of interest to the community, and can help the University grow and develop by investing in its schools and programs.  All of these activities, will increase the NU’s reputation at home and abroad, and this in turn will attract the best students from within Kazakhstan and from foreign countries.  

What moments do you remember from the life of studying at the University?

– My whole period of study at the University was very rich and interesting, and it is difficult for me to single out something that is most memorable. I remember fondly my life in the student hostel- about the moments of contentment, and about the difficulties in studying and preparing for exams, about participating in amateur student performances, acoustic evenings, concerts and the work of numerous clubs. In short, my experience is probably typical for students who live on campus and study at university, I feel a diverse range of emotions, and have pleasant memories of this time.   

How often do you meet with your fellow students?

– I meet with fellow students and graduates very often due to my work and role in this organization. I must say that many students after graduation do not want to lose touch with their Alma mater, many try to keep up to date on the University’s latest news and, if possible, to participate in University events. Today our alumni have their own website, social networks, and a telegram channel. In addition, we have begun to create a database of our graduates, and I periodically get in touch with graduates from different years.

What advice can you give to current students?

– I think our University is the best place to realize one’s potential. At least for me it was. And most importantly, here you are in your home country, receiving world-class education from professors from the best universities in the world. Therefore, I advise you to appreciate every moment spent in the University and make the most of all the opportunities offered by Nazarbayev University.