You can bet that Wilmington University’s Las Vegas Wildcat Mixer held on March 10, 2020, at the Border Grill in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino hit the jackpot.
The venue could not have been more exciting. Founded by superstar chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger — both revered by Food Network fans — Border Grill is considered a Vegas hot spot.
Special Events Manager Brandi Purcell plans large-scale fund-raising events like this regularly, including WilmU’s Green and White Scholarship Gala, homecoming, and the Scholarship Golf Classic. She had already registered for the Special Event 2020 Conference hosted by Catersource in Vegas.
“The idea to engage and connect with fellow Wildcats while attending the conference in Nevada seemed like the perfect opportunity,” Purcell says. While initiated by the Alumni Relations Department, the planning process was led by Purcell. It required surveying online students and alumni in the Vegas area.
WilmU staffers, alums, and students took it all in, savoring appetizers and refreshments in a private room overlooking a pool bathed in twinkling white lights and hugged by palm trees and lush shrubbery. Each attendee received a WilmU T-shirt, alumni pin, WilmU thumb drive (uploaded with information about the Alumni Association, Young Professionals Association, and ways to connect online), and an admissions card with a promo code waiving registration fees.
A link to attend virtually via Zoom Social Hours was provided to fellow alumni and students throughout the United States and abroad. “Continuing to strengthen relationships with our online and out-of-state Wildcats is of utmost importance to us,” Purcell says. “Learning about their individual experiences as students and where they are today is truly inspirational.”
Some of those inspiring people at the mixer were alumna Yuliya Davidzenka and current students Jordan Goodman, Chard Gonzalez and Romelia Jackson.
Davidzenka completed her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2015 while living in Delaware, then moved to California to pursue a law degree at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She resides in Nevada, where she is an associate attorney at Alverson Taylor & Sanders.
Current student Jordan Goodman and his wife, who live in Utah, had already planned a Vegas trip. “He was so excited when he noticed on Canvas (WilmU’s cloud-based Learning Management System) that there was a student and alumni mixer held the same week as his vacation,” says Purcell. Goodman plans to travel to Delaware for commencement. “Putting in all the work, he wants to walk across that stage!”
Chard Gonzalez, an online student participating in the Guild program via its WilmU partnership, traveled from California to attend the Vegas mixer, opting to turn the trip into a mini-vacation with his partner. “Chard mentioned that his previous schools had only reached out to him for monetary donations,” says Purcell. “This WilmU event appealed to him because we just wanted to get to know him and engage.”
Alumna and current online WilmU doctoral student Romelia Jackson recently moved to Vegas from Delaware. She earned her bachelor’s in Business Management at WilmU in 2014, and now holds the rank of Senior Master Sergeant in the Air Force. Jackson enjoyed connecting with friends from her beloved alma mater.
“Romelia told us that she had such positive experiences in person at both our Dover and Dover Air Force Base locations,” says Purcell. “WilmU exceeded her expectations, and she raved about its flexibility.
If you would like to share your personal stories and stay connected with fellow alumni and current students, visit wilmu.edu/alumni. Your town could be our next stop.