MAA student programs coordinator receives Outstanding Advisor award

As a MU as a hospitality management major in 2007, Friend became a member of True Tigers and the Alumni Association Student Board.

Entering her third year as coordinator of student programs with the Mizzou Alumni Association, Aly Friend received the Outstanding Advisor award.

Friend was nominated by some of the students in the Alumni Association Student Board, which she oversees, and said she was “lucky enough to win.”

The award is for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education ASAP District 6, and it highlights an advisor in the district who works with student alumni associations.

“Depending on the university, it can encompass anything from groups that do fundraising or groups that are student members of alumni chapters, similar to what AASB or True Tigers are here,” Friend said.

Surprised by even the nomination itself, Friend said receiving the award was a huge honor for her.

Bobby Hofman nominated Friend for the award. He’s the former president of AASB and said he had the privilege of working closely with Friend. The two became close friends.

“(I) could think of no one more deserving of the Outstanding Advisor Award,” Hofman said.

Hofman said he nominated Friend because of her dedication to her students, her alma mater and MAA.

“(Friend) has made a dramatic impact as her first two years as advisor for the Alumni Association Student Board,” Hofman said. “She has overseen a complete rebranding of the True Tiger network, improved AASB programming and fostered a welcoming, familial environment with AASB that hasn’t been seen for years.”

The District 6 representative notified Friend that MU was bringing home the Best Internal Programming, Best Recruitment and Best Advisor awards.

“They attached the letter from Bobby Hofman that he wrote, and it was the sweetest thing ever,” Friend said. “It’s always just really encouraging to get reinforcement when you’re in the position in the job that you feel like you’re meant to be in. That was kind of a cold day out, so getting that news made my day a little brighter.”

Friend became involved with MAA and AASB long before her three years as the coordinator of student programs. Starting at MU as a hospitality management major in 2007, Friend became a member of True Tigers and AASB.

“I was involved with MAA as a student, and I loved my advisor,” Friend said. “When she left, I was working in another division, and when that position opened up, I saw an opportunity and thought, ‘I would love to do that.’”

Friend was on the Homecoming Steering Committee, which really helped her be able to “dig (her) feet in” and connect with other students and faculty who were involved.

“I love the students that I have the opportunity to work with and their passion for the university,” Friend said. “I think it was just like a validation that I’m doing the right thing.”

Hofman said Friend exemplifies the quality of being able to impact the lives of each person she meets.

“She treats each student as valuable individuals and truly loves each student she gets to work with,” Hofman said.

With the alumni network growing, Friend said it gives her a sense of accomplishment to know that she’s a part of such a large association.

“I really enjoy getting to meet other people who are passionate for Mizzou as I am,” she said. “Whether that’s with people from back home or volunteers for our local chapter down in the Bootheel, or when I go to visit my mom in South Carolina and get an ‘M-I-Z.’ I have the opportunity and knowledge to talk to them about their options to be part of the alumni association or a prospective student, and it’s really exciting.”

Though Friend said she has a lot of rewarding experiences through her time in this position and working with this organization, seeing the student volunteers in action and being able to coach them and impact them are what really set this experience apart from others.

Stemming from this is the opportunity to see her students grow in various ways.

“I think the biggest impact we can make is refining our traditions and making sure they’re as strong as ever and finding new ways to create new traditions,” Friend said. “Something that’s really exciting that we get to do is tell the students to dream a little bit. It’s so rewarding to empower students to be able to create things like Tiger Walk or Senior Send-Off. They have all the ideas and I just help them flush them out a little bit.”

After working with Friend, Hofman said he learned invaluable lessons from her.

“Aly has been a wise mentor, a good friend and a reputable advisor,” Hofman said. “On any given day I could stop in Aly’s cube with a problem, and she’ll have the solution. She takes pride in MAA’s student programming and never settles for less than the best.”

To Friend, having the coordinating job as her career is more than she could’ve ever hoped for. She said she feels fortunate to be in a position she loves so much.

“I just count my blessings every day that I get to go to work on a campus like this and work with such incredible students who are motivated,” Friend said. “It makes every day fun. There are some bad days, but then there are the really, really great days that make it all worthwhile.”

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