September 17, 2019
Jacobs University and its alumni have a unique relationship. The Alumni Association is a key player in the development of the university. Alumni form a close international community that supports not only itself but also the university. As President, Anne Valtink and her team have had a significant influence on the development of this network. After three years in office, the 27-year-old management consultant is not running for office again.
The Alumni Association sees itself as an advocate of the "Jacobs Spirit", a distinctive feeling of togetherness across national, religious and subject-related borders. "You are not alone anywhere in the world. There are alumni almost everywhere who welcome you," says Anne Valtink. She still remembers how an Afghan fellow student took her in at short notice when her booked accommodation was canceled during a visit to the USA. Meanwhile, members of the Association can find an interactive Alumni Atlas on their online portal. On the world map, an innovation of her term in office, it is not only possible to see where the alumni are currently staying. They can also be filtered according to search criteria such as profession or nationality.
Born in Bremen with Estonian roots, she completed her Bachelor in Global Economics and Management in 2013. "My time at Jacobs University was the most formative part of my life. It opened up new horizons for me, for which I am very grateful, also because a scholarship made it possible for me to study at this great university in the first place". When she was asked in 2016 whether she wanted to run for president at the head of a ten-member team, she didn't think twice. "I benefited so much from Jacobs University – it was also about giving back."
Everyone who has studied at Jacobs University is an alumna or an alumnus. But by no means everyone becomes a member of the Alumni Association. Making the Association more attractive and stronger had been the goal, and that was more than successful. Among other things, the mentoring program has been revived, in which an alumna or an alumnus takes care of a student and supports him or her. "The University has valued our cooperation and has invested in developing the Alumni Office at Jacobs in order to honor our cooperation and support us in our operational work. This is indispensable for a voluntary association with big goals." The high status of the alumni is not only reflected in their position within the Board of Governors of the University, but also in the cooperation agreement signed in 2017 with the management of Jacobs University and the Jacobs Foundation, which recognizes the graduates as an integral part of the Jacobs community and defines common goals.
Anne Valtink exchanges views several times a year with the management of the university and is by far the youngest member of the board of governors of the university. She brings the alumni's perspective to decisions such as the future courses of study. "I see my role in preserving Jacobs University's DNA," she says. What is it all about? "The internationality on campus, the diversity of the courses, the transdisciplinarity and the diversity – that's unique. This mix and the values associated with it must be taken into account in every decision."
The Alumni Association does its best to strengthen Jacobs’ DNA. It has intensified its fundraising activities and multiplied the donations. This money is used, for example, to finance a scholarship for talents who could not study at Jacobs University without the support. "We consider it a privilege to be able to give back," says Anne Valtink. The graduates' support and encouragement of Jacobs University and its current students will continue to grow, because the private, English-language university is young. The alumni still have their careers ahead of them, and the majority is under the age of 40.
The yearly Alumni Homecoming Reunion just shows how strong the sense of community is: Every year, alumni from all over the world travel to the meeting in Bremen. The alumni's CVs are as diverse as their nationalities. They work for large companies, in science, for non-governmental organizations such as “Doctors Without Borders”, in development aid or have founded their own companies. "I always find it fascinating that we form such a close community, despite all our differences," Anne Valtink says.
On average, she invested several hours a week for her position as president. Now she wants her profession as a management consultant in Munich and her private life to take up more space again. Anne Valtink will not run for office again. "As the Alumni Association, we have set ourselves many long-term goals. I hope that the next president will not only set new impulses, but also maintain continuity. I will gladly pass on my knowledge and experience and my heart will remain with Jacobs also after my tenure."
This text is part of the series "Faces of Jacobs", in which Jacobs University introduces students, alumni, professors and staff. Further episodes can be found at www.jacobs-university.de/faces .