Volunteer Spotlight: Alissa Thielman



Q. What is your favorite experience as an Alumni Association leader/volunteer?

A. I have a few, but my first experiences as a volunteer were in Chicago. I moved there for work and sought out a place to watch Gopher football games, which led me to the Chicago Gophers UMAA Chapter! I got involved right away with their Communications and Game Watch Committees. Living in a new city can feel lonely at times, so it was a really nice way to meet new people who all shared this common experience! The Chicago Chapter has been named Chapter of the Year many times, and is very actively involved in the community and partners with other Big Ten Alumni Groups as well. We all partnered many times throughout the year to help in the schools with renovations or hosting the annual Chicago YSA Field Day!

Q. Why do you volunteer?

ChicagoGophers_FoodDepository_400Gophers at the Greater Chicago Food DepositoryA. I’ve been active with volunteering since before I could drive a car, it’s just part of who I am! I want to make sure that I’m giving back just as much as I’m getting out of this life, and for me that means volunteering. The University of Minnesota Alumni Association was a natural choice for me given how much the U of M community had provided for me already! I felt like I could give back to a community that really helped shape me as a person and a professional.

ChicagoGophers_YSAFieldDay_400Gophers at the YSA Field Day, ChicagoQ. Why would you encourage others to volunteer?

A. The sense of accomplishment and gratitude you get from volunteering is unlike anything I’ve found through my professional experiences. It’s broadened my horizons, and in the case of UMAA has helped me feel an even greater sense of pride in my education and the U of M as a whole. Volunteering, whether at the U of M or elsewhere, helps our society grow together instead of growing apart!

Q. Share some alumni words of wisdom.

SRAC_HappyHourSquared_400Student & Recent Alumni Council Members at Happy Hour SquaredA. My favorite high school teacher (who is now Senator Steve Cwodzinski) used to shout at the classroom, “Never say the words ‘I have time to kill’ because some people would kill to have your wasted time!” He’s right, we can’t waste our time because at any moment your whole life could change. Continue to learn and grow, but also try to enjoy as much as life has to offer! And like my favorite fictional movie character Jack Dawson says, “Make it count.”

More about Alissa

Alissa Thielman is a 2008 graduate of CLA receiving a B.A. in Professional Journalism. In 2015, UMAA launched the Student & Recent Alumni Council, which she promptly joined upon her return from Chicago. Since 2016, Alissa has been serving as a co-chair of the council, which helps consult on UMAA initiatives and provide assistance on various events. Since graduating from the U of M, she has worked in journalism and marketing, and is currently working for Minneapolis-based Dunn Brothers Coffee. In addition to volunteering with the Student & Recent Alumni Council, Alissa has been a mentor through the Hubbard School of Journalism and volunteers with the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association. During her time as a student and recent graduate, she worked for the Golden Gophers, Big Ten Network and the Golden Gopher Fund. When she’s not working or volunteering, she loves to travel and just crossed off visiting her final of the “Lower 48” states in 2017 (it was Maine, if you’re curious!). During the warmer months, you’ll find Alissa exploring the lakes on a kayak, biking or hiking throughout the state.

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