Coming back around
At the 2021 Black Alumni Reunion, a group of alumni were sitting around a table and started talking. By the end of the conversation, they’d formed a plan for better connection.
The reunion brought so many of them together, but just here in Dayton every few years. The group wanted to see this kind of fellowship in their own cities.
Carna Smith Cureton ’94, a member of the Detroit Alumni Community, knew there was a gap in connecting with the more than 60 Black alumni in her own community. “We wanted a forum to talk to these alumni and get them connected back with the University,” she said.
Cureton, along with her husband, Warren Cureton ’93, volunteered to host the first Black Alumni Meetup in Detroit last year. Most of the group didn’t know one another and spanned class years from 1968 to the 2010s.
“It was a really interesting spectrum we had; a very diverse group of people,” Cureton said.
In the last two years, the UD Alumni Association has adopted this idea and extended the Detroit model to other cities to host Black Alumni Meetups, including Chicago, Washington, D.C./Baltimore, Atlanta, Dayton and Cleveland. The meetups include networking, University news and updates, and some have included talks from leadership.
Detroit hosted another meetup in September with President Eric F. Spina. Cureton said it was pleasing to get the support of not only the alumni association but also of University leadership for what they are trying to create.
“They want to make sure this group stays engaged. I think we (Black alumni) connect differently,” she said. “We want to make sure that we’re connecting with our fellow Black alumni so they can feel like they are a bigger part of UD’s alumni environment.”