The Lafayette Network—A Point of Pride

Tracy Hagert Sutka ’82 P’17

During the month of January, over 130 alumni participated in the first-ever Explore and Connect program, launched by the Gateway Center. On behalf of the Alumni Association, I would like to thank all of you who volunteered your time and expertise to connect with our current students through this initiative.

As in-person externships were not possible this year, the Gateway Center developed this program to give students the opportunity to learn from alumni in their field of interest. Alumni from a wide variety of industries and professions hosted over 350 students. As a result of their worthwhile experience, many participants plan to host students in person next January. Connections have been made!  A special shoutout to all our young alumni who hosted a student: You may be just starting your careers, but to undergrads, your perspective and advice are invaluable.

As an alumni admissions representative volunteer, I am frequently asked by applicants if Lafayette has a strong alumni network. When considering a college, most high school seniors ask about the current students, popular majors, accessibility of professors, and social life. They want to know their chances of acceptance and success as a Lafayette College student. But college admissions has become more competitive for both the institution and prospective student. Students and their parents are increasingly focusing on return on investment for the tuition they are about to pay. More and more, applicants are thinking beyond the four-year college experience; they want to know what the alumni network can do for them while they are students and after they graduate.

I love when I get the Lafayette network question in an interview! As Alumni Association president, I can respond with numerous and specific examples of ways that Lafayette alumni contribute to the alumni network as it pertains to career services.

The goal of the Gateway Center is to make students “career ready” by the time they graduate.  From their first day on campus (virtually in the case of this year’s first-years), students can partake of the services, programs, and guidance of our career center professionals. Alumni are key enthusiastic partners in all of these efforts. Not surprisingly, in developing our soon-to-be-announced Alumni and Parent Engagement Plan, alumni identified “the professional and career support of students” as their No. 1 priority.

Thank you to alumni from all academic majors, class years, professional backgrounds, and geographical markets who host internships and externships, attend networking events, participate in Career Tracks, conduct mock interviews, or offer to look over a student’s résumé. We appreciate the many gifts to the College you have made in support of Gateway student internship stipends. Thank you to all who have registered on GatewayLink, the College’s exclusive platform for alumni and student networking and mentoring.

There’s a lot of information on the Gateway website (, but here’s where alumni should click to volunteer their time and talent:

Keep connecting with and hiring Lafayette graduates!

With Pard Pride,

Tracy Hagert Sutka ’82 P’17