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Together apart

COVID-19 virtual programming for alumni

By Heidi Wicks

In a time of physical divide, meetings of the mind are taking on a whole new meaning.

The Office of Alumni Engagement is partnering with other areas of the university, such as Student Life and the Gardiner Centre, to offer a suite of virtual programming for current students and alumni—striving to unite members of the Memorial family at all stages of their life and careers.

“People can feel a sense of isolation and helplessness during this period of quarantine, so we’re glad to partner with other areas of the university, to create connections in the absence of the working life we’re used to,” explained Lynn Squires, assistant director with Alumni Engagement.

Ten Thousand Coffees

Alumni Engagement and Student Life have partnered with Ten Thousand Coffees, a digital mentorship tool that links mentors with students and early career professionals, thanks in part to the generosity of RBC Future Launch.

Duos with shared backgrounds, degrees and skill sets are automatically matched each month, and connect on the phone, in Google Hangouts or any preferred conferencing tool.

Introductions to students and alumni occur monthly, with the next meeting on May 2. Participants must register with Ten Thousand Coffees in advance.

To learn more about the impact this program has on participants, read Yaksh Haranwala and Randal Greene’s story.


Mindful moments

In collaboration with Gardiner Centre, a series of webinars on mindfulness are available for Memorial alumni and friends.

Mindfulness has been proven to be an effective strategy to manage anxious thoughts and cultivate positive behaviours by focusing attention on the present moment, and accepting it without judgement or resistance. In a time when anxiety is compounded, Gardiner Centre instructor and positive psychology coach, Jennifer Kelly, led Mindful Moments: four 15-minute guided mindfulness exercises throughout the month of April.

Each of the sessions were streamed live on YouTube. The sessions—The 3 Minute Breathing Space, Gratitude Meditation, Leaves on a Stream and The Best Possible Self—are also available as recordings. To date, more than 1,000 viewers have participated in the meditations.

Entering the workforce

In partnership with Student Life, four free, one-hour online sessions offer participants the opportunity to receive support in building a robust career portfolio. While Interview Skills and Tips for Remote Working are finished, students and alumni can participate in two upcoming sessions via Brightspace.


Also in partnership with the Gardiner Centre, four free sessions on leadership will be offered to alumni throughout May and June:

  • The Risks of Virtual Harassment and Cyber-Bullying, May 20
  • Adapting Organizational Strategy in Uncertain Times, May 27
  • Leading and Engaging Teams Virtually, June 3
  • Communicating with Digital and Social Media, June 10

All four sessions take place from 1– 1:40 p.m. For updates and information, follow the Office of Alumni Engagement on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or consult the website.


Whether in the COVID-19 world or not, there’s always a yearning to connect to your roots, both personally and professionally.

Memorial alumni Gregory Smyth (B.Eng. ’07) and Kingsley Gifford (B.Eng. ’09) created GlobalNL in 2017, for the purpose of connecting Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in both the cyber and real worlds. By using LinkedIn’s database, GlobalNL collects all alumni information in one easy-to-use website, and allows users to search by hometown, industry, current location or name.

Mr. Smyth, who is based in San Francisco as a group manager with Tesla, explained that during his recent career transition from the oil and gas industry to the tech sector, “Newfoundlanders living in Silicon Valley offered their time, advice and personal connections to help me. I wanted to pay this generosity forward.”

GlobalNL has a series of podcasts discussing various sectors within the province and world. Join GlobalNL today!

Alumni engagement

Ms. Squires says virtual programming during the COVID-19 pandemic is one way that the Memorial can help people stay connected.

“We want to build a culture of engaging alumni around the world—creating new pathways to engage and provide opportunities for a personal and collective benefit. In the midst of this new reality, it’s more important than ever to put yourselves out there.”

If you would like to connect, please contact munalum@mun.ca.

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