Keeping busy and stimulated during a pandemic, and in a lockdown, has been a challenge for many. All community and university event programming had to come to a sudden halt, and people began looking for fun and interesting things to do in their leisure time. Postsecondary teams working with alumni had to start thinking outside the box when coming up with strategies to engage alumni.
The Lakehead University Student Alumni Association (LUSAA) based on the Lakehead Orillia campus was one of those groups facing this dilemma. This group of nine student volunteers, who were simultaneously dealing with a new online environment for their own classes, rose to the occasion when faced with this unprecedented challenge. They began to meet online to brainstorm ways to reach students, who were for the most part studying at their homes all over the world. They researched available tools and event ideas. From those online meetings they came up with some unique virtual events, the first of which was launched in September 2020, and used an online platform that allowed them to run a quiz challenge.
Since then, they have hosted many virtual events for students throughout the academic year including an online yoga session, a social media-driven pumpkin-carving contest, a hot chocolate bomb-making workshop, and a stargazing event.
LUSAA has more unique events planned for the remainder of the current academic year including a Netflix party and a “The Art of Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse” event. This very active team is also working on events for specialized groups such as our professional year education students and Lakehead-Georgian Partnership students.
In addition, LUSAA organizes an annual event to give back to our local community. This year is no exception, in spite of, or maybe even because of, the pandemic. They are currently working on thank you cards and treats that they will safely deliver to package and mail delivery companies to be distributed to their delivery service workers as a thank you for their important work during these times. It is just this kind of exceptional and unconventional thinking that epitomizes our Lakehead student and alumni volunteers, and for that we are most grateful.