You can do it! Spartans complete degrees, with alumni encouragement

Posted on May 01, 2024

Featured Image for You can do it! Spartans complete degrees, with alumni encouragement

In Spring 2023, members of UNC Greensboro’s Alumni Leadership Board (ALB) sent hand-written messages to 292 students who had “stopped-out.” They were seniors who had left school before completing their degrees. Many returned and are now graduating with the class of 2024. 

Why the personal touch? UNCG’s Stop-Out Prevention and Re-Entry Coordinator, Gina Ingraham ’16 MA, says a little encouragement can help students cross the finish line. “Students often tell me how relieved they feel about returning once they’ve spoken to us and know we are here to support and guide them.” 

Adrian Allen ’24 holding the hand-written letter he received.

This is one way UNCG is responding to national trends in university enrollment. The number of students with some college credit, but no credential, has increased nationwide in recent years according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.  

ALB Vice President Dean Castaldo Jr. ’12 was among those who participated. He says this is a meaningful way alumni leaders support current students. “At our core, alumni want to support other Spartans. The letter-writing effort demonstrated a robust support network for the students.”  

After the letters were sent at the beginning of 2023, nearly 10% of those contacted reapplied. Two graduated in December 2023 and nine returning students will graduate from UNCG this spring. 

Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Joel Lee said the program has seen tangible results. “All sixteen students who reenrolled in Fall 2023 have persisted.”  

One such student is Adrian Allen, a 20-year military veteran who has studied acting as well as political science. He still has the letter today and feels grateful for it, he reported. 

ALB President Whitney Hill ’09

“It was a postcard in an envelope, it had the logo of UNCG, and it had a note encouraging me to come back and finish,” he said. “That message made me feel good, and it was instrumental in my decision to return at the time I did.”  

Allen’s letter came from ALB President Whitney Hill ’09. “I know you invested so much into your political science degree and we are cheering you on to completion,” she wrote. 

Hill believes a personal connection can be powerful. “It means a lot to me to get to see how much that letter meant to Adrian. We wanted our recipients to know we were rooting for them,” she said. “Our ALB is always looking for ways to improve and connect or reconnect with alumni.” 

Ingraham couldn’t be happier to see the success of the letter-writing campaign. “Students tell me all the time how meaningful their degree completion is to them, on both personal and professional levels. To be a part of that experience is very rewarding.” 

What’s next? Allen receives his political science degree on May 3 and looks forward to using his degree to make an impact. “I plan to start with work in the community and see how I want to proceed from there,” he said.  

By Mercer Bufter ’11 MA, Advancement Communications
Photography by Sean Norona ’13
Courtesy photography of Whitney Hill

Recent Posts

Upcoming Events

Share This