Celebrating Shared Experiences

Posted in Cross Roads, Alumni News

Drexel University Black Alumni Council President Jerry Martin ’77 talks about how identity-based affinity groups deepen the bonds between Dragons and their alma mater.

Jerry Martin and group

Jerry Martin meets with fellow DUBAC members, Melinda Johnson, MS ’11, EdD ’17, and Angela Harris, BS ’02.

At the culmination of his career, Jerry Martin ’77 was a senior-level official in the U.S. Treasury Department, where he was in charge of regulating banks and holding companies in the United States and abroad. Now he’s retired, but hardly slowing down. He’s an avid traveler, collector of fine art, doting grandfather and can now add president of the Drexel University Black Alumni Council, or DUBAC. As president, Martin hopes to use his personal experiences and skills to uplift others and give back to Drexel. One way he does this is by encouraging alumni and students to get involved with Drexel’s affinity communities.

What was it about your experiences as a member of DUBAC that inspired you to become the president of the group?

I have been committed to the success and growth of DUBAC since it was formed in 2014. I feel like my interactions with alumni and students have allowed me to better understand and carry out the organization’s goals of fostering meaningful relationships between alumni, students and the University. I previously served as treasurer where — along with my predecessor Chantee Steele ’13 — I had the honor of helping to develop the structure and goals of DUBAC.

Looking ahead, can you share some of your goals for DUBAC?

DUBAC plans to host social and professional networking events throughout the academic year for alumni and students, and some events will focus particularly on young alumni. We hope that our annual event at Homecoming Weekend in January encourages recent graduates to get involved early in alumni and University activities. DUBAC also plans to roll out events for alumni outside of the Philadelphia region, starting with upcoming events around Washington, D.C., and New York City.

In what ways does DUBAC serve as a resource for current students?

DUBAC is committed to meeting the needs of current students by collaborating with student organizations to help financially support their initiatives, by providing mentoring support and by engaging with students at events. Our alumni members have also come to campus to speak to student organizations and on occasions have let students know about job opportunities. During 2016, DUBAC established a scholarship that has been awarded to two exceptional students for the past two years. DUBAC is currently reaching out to undergraduate advisors, program managers and other department heads to find ways we can collaborate on events that support undergraduate students.

What types of events and programs does DUBAC host for alumni?

DUBAC currently hosts three core events in the Philadelphia area: two gatherings during Homecoming and Alumni Weekends, and a Women in Leadership Conference. Our Homecoming event promotes school spirit with emphasis on reengaging alumni. The Alumni Weekend mixer is our signature event in which we honor alumni with awards that recognize their support of students, Drexel and DUBAC. The Women in Leadership Conference supports topics that are of relevance to women in the workforce. Our inaugural conference was held during April this year, exceeding expectation with more than 150 alumni and student registrants. A dynamic panel of powerful women shared tips on how to identify mentors and sponsors that could strengthen womens’ roles and their influence in the workplace. This event was a successful collaboration between DUBAC, Drexel’s Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership, and the Drexel Black Graduate Student Union. We welcome the opportunity to partner with other departments and colleges to create meaningful programs that would benefit alumni and students.

How does DUBAC support philanthropy and giving back to the University?

Donations from alumni have enabled DUBAC to support student programs, scholarships and other activities at Drexel. Our alumni have established scholarships in their names and supported the University’s Campaign funding initiatives. DUBAC strongly supports Drexel’s mission to be the most civically engaged university in the nation. We strongly believe in supporting local charitable events by giving donations, participating in walkathon events, and serving food to our local community. One of our most memorable volunteer experiences included volunteering at the Community Dinner for the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. This provided us with an opportunity to volunteer alongside Drexel students, and connect with the residents of the surrounding Powelton and Mantua communities.

You are an active volunteer across the University, not just with DUBAC. What is your personal motivation for staying involved with Drexel as an alumni volunteer?

Being actively involved at the University — whether supporting student programs, serving as a mentor or as a board member— has allowed me to share my personal experiences, strengths and resources. Knowing I am having an impact at the University and on student lives keeps me motivated to stay involved with my alma mater.

WHAT IS AN IDENTITY-BASED AFFINITY GROUP?

Identity-based affinity groups connect Drexel graduates based on their shared cultural, religious, racial or personal identities and provide them with opportunities to network and socialize, as well as celebrate their shared heritage or experiences.

Current groups include:

  • Drexel Hellenic Alumni Network
  • Drexel LGBTQA Alumni Network
  • Drexel Muslim Alumni Network
  • Drexel University Black Alumni Council
  • Drexel University Newman Alumni Council
  • Drexel Veterans Alumni Network