Interview with 2014 Young Alumni Service Award Recipient, Jenna Beletic, AB’07
A portion of this interview will be featured in the upcoming Alumni Association e-newsletter, "Insights."
Alumni Association: When did you first start volunteering for the University and what compelled you to get involved?
For me, volunteering was a way to extend my time at the University. I could continue learning about cutting-edge research, participating in intellectual debates and meeting interesting (and sometimes eccentric in true UChicago style) people, both alumni and students. I initially got involved with fellow alumni through my class council a year after I graduated and then was lucky enough to also get to work closely with current students through the Student Alumni Committee (SAC).
Alumni Association: What is your favorite or most memorable experience as a volunteer?
Last week during our regular SAC meeting a student took me aside and told me she had a plethora of career opportunities post-graduation, many of which we had talked through and worked on together. Having known this student for many years and being able to be a part of her life and see these (very well deserved) opportunities develop has been a joy. Being able to help those things happen for wonderful students and alums is always my favorite part of volunteering. I wouldn’t be where I am without the same people doing that for me.
Alumni Association: In what ways, if any, has volunteering for UChicago helped you with life post-graduation?
All in all, my skill set, career opportunities, and personal life have all been enriched through my volunteer work at UChicago. Volunteering has helped me develop intellectually and as a leader, both of which have been tremendously helpful in my personal and professional life. For example, advising students through the SAC has given me management and mentorship experience that prepares me well for management positions at work. I’ve met fellow alumni who have been incredible mentors to me and helped move my career forward. Most importantly, I’ve met alums, students and University staff members who have become close friends.
Alumni Association: How do you balance your volunteer commitments against your already heavy workload?
The great thing about being a volunteer post-graduation in my mind is that you get all the perks and fun of being a student without the heavy workload of classes, papers, and problem sets. You can learn about things like Mesopotamian gender relations and have fun with your friends at Participate Chicago, and you don’t have to go home and write a 12 page paper about either (unless you want to). Additionally, I’ve found it to be a great way to continue learning about things I loved studying in college, but don’t get the opportunity to encounter at work. I love consulting, but I rarely encounter cuneiform at a client site. We all choose to do things outside of work, and, for me, volunteering at the University is a perfect balance of fun, enrichment, and fulfillment. I fit the commitments in just like any other hobby or social engagement.
Alumni Association: How did you feel when you were notified that you were selected for a 2014 Young Alumni Service Award?
I was shocked. I was lucky enough to get the call from my favorite ABG member and former SAC advisor, who I’d assumed was just calling to chat and who then patiently listened to my emotional blubbering. I’m very humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to work with such interesting and generous alumni, students, and University staff.
Alumni Association: What would you say to a fellow young alum who might be on the fence about getting more involved?
Think about your favorite UChicago tradition or class or experience. Every year I still go to Hot Chocolate Night, I argue with someone who (falsely) thinks Durkheim isn’t the greatest and I go to a lecture on something I know nothing about like the marketing of Doritos or city planning. You can too! Also, you get some pretty sweet swag.
Please join us in congratulating one of our own, Jenna Beletic, for her dedication to the University and current students. The Alumni Awards Ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 7 at 10:30am and is part of Alumni Weekend. The ceremony is free and open to the public.