Though Liz Gorman graduated from Queen’s in 1997 with a BSc in Civil Engineering, she still hasn’t left campus. Not that she’s complaining.
While a student, she had worked with the Queen’s Student Alumni Association, first as a volunteer, and then as the coordinator in her last year of undergraduate study.
“That’s how I got introduced to Alumni Relations,” she recalls with a smile. “I worked with the alumni volunteers in the branches, and that translated into an opportunity after I graduated.” Though she says she expected it to be a short term contract, Gorman says she “fell in love with the work,” and found herself on an unanticipated new career path.
As the Manager of Students and Branches in Alumni Relations, Gorman oversees two units -- one that works with student volunteers, and another that works with Alumni Branches around the world. “Queen’s is somewhat unique in that 90 per cent of our alumni live outside of the Kingston catchment area,” she explains.
“Working with the alumni is definitely the best part of the job, for sure...”
The regional branches of the Alumni Association provide Queen’s graduates with the opportunity to stay connected, build networks and support the university wherever they happen to live in the world, whether it’s in Toronto or Hong Kong. “We think of the branches as mini-embassies for Queen’s,” she explains.
“Working with the alumni is definitely the best part of the job, for sure,” she says warmly. “You get to hear constantly about their love of Queen’s -- but not just in a nostalgic way!” Instead, she says they are committed to “keeping Queen’s the Queen’s they know -- strong academically, but with the amazing spirit and tradition that are its hallmarks.”
Gorman, who spends much of her day corresponding with people by email and phone, says she also gets to do some travelling, particularly in Canada and the United States. “You get to meet some remarkable people,” she says, “and that’s what is so incredible about the work that we do.”
Gorman says she also loves working with the Queen’s Student Alumni Association-- the same organization where she got her start. “I love the fact that we get to work directly with students,” she says. “They are extremely inspiring -- and we get a new group every year. It’s amazing to see what they bring to the table with the academic work they are doing, and their experiences as well.”
Though Gorman didn’t end up pursing a career in engineering, she says many of the things she liked best about that field are relevant to her current work. “There’s a lot of project management, and analysis in engineering,” she says, “and that’s all easily applied to the work we do here.” She also likes that there’s lot of room for growth.
"I don’t think I’ve stayed doing the same thing for more than a year at a time,” she explains.
“The opportunities and challenges are different from year to year. I’ve never felt at any point in my career here that I’ve ever been stagnant.”