Whether it had been five years since graduation or 70, nothing could stop our alumni from celebrating their reunions this fall—not even a global pandemic. Coronavirus regulations and precautions led to the cancellation of six reunions scheduled for 2020. The VMI Alumni Association hosted virtual gatherings for these six classes.
Some aspects of the virtual reunions were the same for each class—like recorded tours of post and an Old Yell from the Corps of Cadets. Just like in-person traditional reunions, though, each class’s gathering featured something unique to them.
For instance, the Class of 1960 had the opportunity to hear from the most recent recipient of the Captain Paul Bayliss Class of 1960 Memorial Scholarship. For the Class of 1975, one highlight of the evening was the viewing of “Spirit of VMI,” a look back at the Keydets’ victorious 1974 football season.
“The virtual option gave so many the opportunity to reunite with each other; even those who, under normal circumstances wouldn’t have been able to be present in person,” said Corri Sensabaugh, associate director of reunions. “Even better is hearing about so many classes keeping the excitement alive by incorporating more regular virtual events on their own.”
Patti Cook, director of annual and reunion giving, saw what was necessitated by the pandemic and is turning the experience into an opportunity for future reunions.
“I think one of the positive discoveries that came out of the virtual reunion experience is that we have the ability in the future … to include a virtual option into any of our reunion weekends,” she said. “This will provide an opportunity for BRs to connect, even if they are unable to come to the in-person event.”
Several attendees agreed that, due to personal circumstances, they might not have been able to attend their reunion at all if not for the virtual option. For some, it is the only reunion they have ever attended. That was certainly the case for the Class of 2015.
“The team worked hard to provide an update for the classes despite our unique circumstances,” said T.J. Lighton ’15, reunion giving officer for the VMI Alumni Agencies. Lighton’s class was one of the six with reunions affected by COVID-19. “In times like these, it was nice to connect with BRs and reflect on our time in barracks and all the things we have been up to since graduating.”
From the more intimate gatherings to the events that drew almost 100 participants, VMI alumni have proven that, even through tough times, the brother rat spirit remains strong.
Victoria Ferris Social Media and Communications Strategist
The social media and communications strategist is responsible for creating compelling, audience-appropriate, multi-channel content for social media, and for monitoring the VMI Alumni Agencies' social media accounts. The strategist supports all communications efforts, including email marketing deployment and training, website updating, and video editing.