Helping out alumni

UIAA Welcome Back Block Party (blog)

Sparky poses with students at the UIAA Welcome Back Block Party. Photo: Timothy Nguyen

My first time taking pictures for the University of Illinois Alumni Association was for the “Welcome Back Block Party,” which took place near Student Center East immediately after the Freshman Convocation ceremony. Annie Li, president of the Student Alumni Ambassador at UIC, found me through mutual friends and asked  if I could take pictures for the Student Alumni Ambassadors photo booth at the Block Party. The UIC Student Alumni Ambassadors help out with alumni events and  get students involved with the University of Illinois Alumni Association.

The Student Alumni Ambassadors prepared a red backdrop for me that said, “This is UIC,” and “#goUIC.” UIC mascot Sparky the Dragon was at the photo booth, eager to take pictures with incoming freshmen. The Block Party was a blast; I saw a handful of my friends also working there. After the ceremony Annie had suggested that I join SAA.

I wanted to get a feel of what it is like to help out alumni, so I asked Annie Li about her experiences with the Student Alumni Ambassadors. For this blog, I wanted to share Annie’s story with the UIC community so Annie and I met up a week ago at Peet’s Coffee,  at Maxwell and Halsted, so she could recount about her experiences with SAA. Here is what she has to say:

“I joined SAA in my freshman year at UIC. I knew that I wanted to get involved on campus because I came to UIC and did not know anyone. Now, I’m a senior majoring in health information management, and in my second year of SAA presidency. I am so glad that I joined SAA because I met most of my friends through the organization. SAA has also created many opportunities for me, including developing my leadership skills, networking with successful alumni, traveling to conferences in New Orleans and St. Louis and hosting campus-wide events. SAA has helped me come a long way because I remember how scared I was of public speaking and networking. Through my SAA involvement, I have been able to serve as the UIC student representative to the UIAA Board of Directors and a member on various campus task forces and committees. I am fortunate to have met successful alumni who have been my mentors and friends. I know that I can go to them for any advice or assistance for my professional career. SAA has helped me connect to UIC, and I know that I will be back after graduation to continue my involvement in the UIAA.”

I asked Annie about her favorite SAA memory, and she described being the 214th torchbearer for the Lighting of the Flame.

“Last year, I received a letter from the VP of Alumni Relations at UIC and a person I have been fortunate to know very well through SAA — Arlene Norsym. She wrote to inform me that I was selected to be a torchbearer. This was an honor because torchbearers are usually alumni and friends who exemplify UIC spirit and commitment, and my SAA involvement and UIC pride got me nominated for this memorable opportunity. Before a men’s basketball game, I carried a symbolic torch onto the Pavilion floor and lit a cauldron while the school song was sung. I signed the permanent record book and joined a long list of notable alumni and friends who have also been a part of this tradition.”

I am proud to be a student at UIC because after knowing some of the history and resources that the University of Illinois Alumni Association has to provide, I know that there are many opportunities for me after I graduate to continue helping out my school.

Timothy Nguyen


Timothy Nguyen is a sophomore currently undeclared in the College of Liberal Arts and Science but he plans on transferring to the College of Engineering to pursue computer science. He wants to become a world-class professional wedding photographer by the time he graduates. He also wants to find job in software engineering. In his free time, Timothy enjoys doing photo shoots with friends and taking pictures around campus. Born and raised in Illinois, Timothy is a student photographer/contributor for UIC News.


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