“At MIT, we believe that public service can be – and should be – as intense, meaningful and intellectually rigorous as academic work. MIT alumni help to convey this philosophy … which serves to “It is not a separate activity from academic and professional activities; it is a vital element of a wise and creative life.”
Institute President L. Rafael Reif shared these thoughts with student volunteers during a session at the 2021 Alumni Leadership Conference (ALC), where the MIT Alumni Association (MITAA) formally launched its MIT Alumni Better World Service Initiative. An equal networking site, workspace, project aggregator, and storytelling platform, this initiative connects MIT alumni working to make the world a better place through volunteer efforts on climate and sustainability, human health, STEM education, social justice and equity, and more.
“People at MIT are anxious, always trying to use our minds and hands – and their hearts – to solve problems, big and small,” says Annalisa Weigel ’94, ’95, SM ’00, PhD. ‘ 02, 127th President of the Association. “Through the service initiative, we hope to highlight alumni who have a tangible impact on their careers. and through volunteering their time and talents on meaningful service projects ”.
Through a digital platform hosted by MITAA, the initiative allows alumni to communicate about their efforts with peers around the globe. There are three main ways to participate. Alumni are invited to present projects they are working on to raise their visibility and enlist others interested in participating. Students looking to participate in a new volunteer opportunity can search for existing projects by type of cause to find ways to share their skills and knowledge. Finally, the Association is hiring “service ambassadors,” or volunteers who can work on the network of nearly 143,000 alumni to build more support for the projects.
Inspire others to action
While the MIT Alumni Better World Service Initiative is a new endeavor, community service has been a pillar of the experience of MIT alumni from the first classes of the Institute. The Association itself was formed in 1875 “to promote the welfare of the Institute in school and others.” Later, in 1896, the Association of Class Secretaries became one of the first groups of MITAA volunteers, and efforts to follow the history of the classes and keep their members together continue today, in the pages of this publication.
While the Institute has benefited from a significant body of advocates – during the lifetime of the MIT Campaign for a Better World, more than 27,000 alumni and friends have volunteered – the new initiative focuses on the world. over campus. (See the sidebar on the right for recent examples of alumni in action.) Tradition will be most honored when the Association presents its inaugural MIT Alumni Better World Service Award this spring to an individual whose service efforts are inspiring. to alumni peers.
With the launch of the MIT Alumni Better World Service Initiative, MITAA hopes that examples of excellence will encourage others to share, connect, and elevate their individual contributions, joining forces for greater impact.
“The ultimate vision of the Association is to ‘engage and inspire the MIT global community to make a better world,'” said Whitney T. Espich, general manager of the Association. all energy points, and this includes factoring in the exponential power of our alumni in service to others. As they did as students, MIT alumni working together can continue to be a force multiplier for good.
Spotlight on service
The tradition of service to others runs throughout the history of the MIT alumni community. Some recent examples: