SHREVEPORT – The nostalgia of one’s college days are often a person’s best memories, and the LSUS Alumni Office has enshrined those memories in an engaging oral history book and digital platform.
The book titled “In My Words” features nearly 600 alumni stories in the print edition and about 2,800 tales in the virtual edition.
This collection of stories allows the alumni office to not only update its alumni database but also create a more engaging way to connect alumni with each other.
“This is something tangible that people can see and feel, something that helps alumni get connected and stay connected to the university and each other,” said Jazmin Jernigan, director of alumni development. “We expect this to be a wonderful tool to inspire our current students and show them all the different ways that they can translate their LSUS degree into something fulfilling.
“We talk about how diverse our alumni are personally and professionally, and now anyone can reference a physical product with submitted stories and photos.”
The collection ranges from couples who met their significant other at LSUS to alumni who rose to the top of their field or industry.
The book is arranged by categories like Career Success, Student Life, Academic Influences, and Relationships.
Student Life focuses on a student’s experience at LSUS, whether that’s on campus or online. Academic Influences highlights student stories about their favorite professors or other academic connections made at LSUS. Family Connections focuses on the stories of how First Generation and Legacy alumni navigated their college experience.
The project started in late 2022 when LSUS partnered with Publishing Concepts Inc., a company that collects and transcribes stories.
More than 4,000 LSUS alumni were contacted, resulting in about 2,800 stories that alumni offered. Stories could be read and edited by the alumnus before publication.
While hardcover books are no longer for sale, alumni can contact the Alumni Office to gain access to the virtual platform. People can email the office at email@example.com.
Chancellor Dr. Robert Smith and the dean of each college was presented with a copy of the book in the Alumni Affairs lobby Friday.
“What a great project that allows our alumni to see what their fellow alumni are doing,” Smith said. “The most important facet of this project is that prospective students can see what our alumni are doing and what they’ve achieved in their communities.”
Dr. Tibor Szarvas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the ongoing oral history project will benefit every college and the university as a whole.
“Every academic unit relies on alumni partnership and support, and this will be a book with which we can increase engagement and widen our base,” Szarvas said. “Alumni who may otherwise be disconnected from the university can participate in this project and become more involved.
“This project demonstrates the value that LSUS graduates provide for this region.”
Jernigan said it’s her plan to produce a new edition every three years, which means the collection of alumni stories would begin again sometime in 2025. Alumni can submit stories and photos for the next project at any time by contacting the Alumni Office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. No purchase is necessary to submit a story or participate in the project.
“We had a great response rate from our alumni the first time, but we were only able to reach out to less than 15 percent of our approximately 37,000 graduates,” Jernigan said. “This also resulted in a membership increase for our Alumni Association.
“Now that people can see a quality product in our inaugural edition, we believe we’ll get an even better response when we revisit the project again in 2025.”
Alums wishing to see a printed edition of the publication can visit any college on the LSUS campus or the Alumni Office, which is located on the second floor of the LSUS Administration Building.
“We hope this is something that alumni can put on their coffee table,” Jernigan said. “From the response we’ve already received, it shows us that alumni are interested in investing in their memories, something they can pass down.
“It also says our generous alumni are excited to share their time, talent and support in many ways.”