Jefferson student network club holds alumni forum

On+Thursday%2C+Feb.+25%2C+Jefferson%27s+student+network+club+held+its+first+alumni+event+with+three+prominent+alumni.+%22It+was+really+great+to+hear+the+experiences+of+alumni+who+have+been+in+the+exact+same+shoes+at+current+students+a+few+decades+ago%2C%22+freshman+Zac+Baker+said.+

Arjun Dhumne

On Thursday, Feb. 25, Jefferson’s student network club held its first alumni event with three prominent alumni. “It was really great to hear the experiences of alumni who have been in the exact same shoes at current students a few decades ago,” freshman Zac Baker said.

Nathan Mo, Team Leader

Jefferson students held an open forum with numerous alumni on Thursday, Feb. 25. With prominent figures ranging from Howard Lerman, CEO of Yext, to Vlad Tenev, co-founder of Robinhood, the event allowed current students and older alumni to discuss new developments in Jefferson’s culture, like renovations and changes to admissions. Despite restrictions placed on similar events, senior Arjun Dhumne, the organizer of the event, created this more informal setting for ease of access to students.

“This event was meant to connect with alumni in a very simple manner where we don’t have to go through FCPS or TJ. It’s the same way a student reaching out to alumni and forming connections that way,” Dhumne said. “I wanted to create some type of way where we [students] can get some distinguished alumni to speak about their experiences at TJ.”

As opposed to more conventional video platforms, the event was hosted on Clubhouse, a newer service with more streamlined usage.

“The big reason was that it’s just an app that takes two clicks, and you’ll be able to enter the chat room. As opposed to Zoom, where you have to get the audio, video, and anything else set up. I felt like that was too formal,” Dhumne said.

However, Clubhouse also served as a method to create new communities within Jefferson.

“The reason I really liked Clubhouse is because it’s creating a new community with these alumni. You can create clubs [on the app] so we could make the student network club, which would be open to any students with the app,” Dhumne said.

Dhumne intended for the event to be a more informal conversation between students and the alumni to allow for students to better form connections with the alumni and each other.

“We all relate to each other. All of these students realize that these big figures, like Howard Lerman, went to our high school, and now they’ll be able to reach out and relate to them through their experience at TJ,” Dhumne said.

Attendees at the event shared Dhumne’s sentiment, recognizing that the event was an opportunity to connect with some of Jefferson’s well-known alumni.

“I think there’s a lot of great people that graduate from TJ, and the event was a great way to meet some of those people and hear about their time at TJ,” freshman Zac Baker said. “It was great to hear about the history of TJ, what it was like for previous students, and even just hearing about TJ from some of the upperclassmen who already go here. I enjoyed learning about what TJ was like before I was here.”

Dhumne hopes that students realize that alumni, especially prominent ones, are more accessible than students think.

“One big thing – no one is inaccessible to you. I can’t tell you how many texts I got after the session like ‘how did you get XYZ person here?’. I want it to be more known that these are our alumni – 20 years ago, they were in our same shoes. They want to help us, and I hope that students are able to figure out that reaching out to alumni and prominent figures in a field of interest is something they can do on a day-to-day basis,” Dhumne said.

In the future, Dhumne intends to host similar events, attracting a more diverse variety of alums while also garnering larger interest from students.

“This is not the last time that this is going to happen now that we have the club formed. In the future, I’ll most likely create a list of alumni who have a great network themselves, and use that list to market directly to them to get a better alumni of TJ people, both alumni and students,” Dhumne said.