Spring Family Connections offers a taste of the CMC experience

CMC families eager for the chance to walk in their students’ shoes, have had the perfect opportunity at Spring Family Connections, which kicked off Monday, Feb. 15 with a town hall meeting and Q&A with CMC President Hiram Chodosh.

More than 200 people have registered for the event’s vibrant slate of virtual programming, which runs through March 18, and is tailored for families eager to expand their knowledge of the College by offering a taste of beloved CMC traditions, such as a virtual gathering for conversation and connection complete with tea and Rice Krispies treats. (Each family who registers by March 3 with a domestic address will receive a box in the mail.)

Beth Milev during the Town Hall
Beth Milev ’05 Director, Robert Day Scholars Program and Scholar Communities during a virtual town hall meeting and Q&A.

Planned by the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement with input from CMC families, the Family Connections programming reflects what interests CMC families, including a peek into the classroom experience and panels on topics such as CMC’s student health and wellness efforts, as well has how to prepare soon-to-be graduates for the job market in the “new normal.”

“Spring Family Connections replicates the in-person CMC Family Weekend that we traditionally hold over Presidents Day weekend,” said Evan Rutter ’06, assistant vice president for Alumni and Parent Engagement at CMC. “Because we cannot meet in person right now, we decided to stretch the programming over four weeks and explore the possibilities available in a virtual world.”

This also means intentionally replicating CMC’s warm and welcoming environment in an online format.

“CMC has a nurturing, close-knit family feel to its community,” said Suzanne Wallace, P'23 co-vice president, Programs Committee of CMC’s Parent Network Board. “So, the goal for the programming this year is to bring out that CMC family feeling to all of those who attend the sessions.”

Key to this effort are current CMC students themselves, who serve in crucial support roles such as First Year Guides, Residential Assistants, CARE Center fellows, and members of the College Programming Board. Families will get the chance on Feb.25 to learn how CMC is working to create a sense of community in the all-virtual environment.

“We want Family Connections to provide an inside look at each student’s CMC journey,” said Jeannie Scalmanini, director of Alumni and Parent Engagement. “Because the more you know about what their College lives are like, and what’s important to them, the more we can be partners in the education and wellbeing of your student.”

A graph presented as part of the Family Connections program
Economics Prof. Eric Helland runs a Faculty in Action session as part of Spring Family Connection.

The spring programming includes opportunities for families to see their students’ professors in action. “We selected faculty presentations that would adapt well to a wider and remote-viewing audience, as well as to discuss real-world events,” Rutter said.

Tuesday, Feb. 23 featured Economics Professor Eric Helland P'20; while Sarah Budischak, Assistant Professor of Biology, will lead a timely classroom discussion, “The Next Pandemic?” on March 6.

Among the multiple challenges facing CMC students as they attend school remotely is how to build a career path. “One of the most pressing issues, especially for sophomores, juniors and seniors, is how to identify and earn internships and jobs while not being able to interview in person,” said Nicole Heath P'22, co-chair of the Career Development Committee on the Parent Network Board.

“While the Soll Center for Student Opportunity has identified and implemented innovative and productive ways to assist students, our parent body also has a wealth of professionals we thought could be tapped to offer additional advice during this unusual period,” said Heath, whose committee worked in conjunction with the Soll Center to organize the panel.

Some CMC parents with “enormous expertise” led the “Recruitment in the New Normal” panel on Thursday, Feb. 18.The panelists included: Steve Kapner P'22, Co-founder and Managing Director of Aquent;  Kristin Mannion P'22, Founder of Aura Leadership and Development; and Grace Koo, Managing Director, Human Capital at KKR.

“We felt it was important to have a conversation on how CMCers can best communicate the CMC advantage in their internship and career search, and how you can support them in the process,” Heath said.

Learning how family members can support their CMC student is one of the desired outcomes for the Family Connections weekend. But it’s also a chance for parents to deepen their own CMC experience.

 “As the parent of a senior, I can tell you that four years go by really fast,” advised Jon Frank P'21, who as co-vice president of the CMC Parent Network Board’s Programs Committee helped to organize the programming lineup. “If an opportunity exists, such as joining Spring Family Connections, parents should try to get as much out of their parent experience with CMC as they can,” he said.

CMC Spring Family Connections event list, registration details, and video archive are available here.

—Anne Bergman