In the weeks leading up to Reunion, the Office of Alumni Engagement is abuzz with behind-the-scenes preparation. Staff and volunteers handle both large and small tasks, from organizing registration, assigning rooms and finalizing menus to printing event signs, making yearbook photo buttons, and blowing up hundreds of purple and white balloons. 

At the helm of the bustling office are Anne (Pollick) Sant ’88, director, and Jennifer (Moura) Silva ’93, senior associate director, who can easily be referred to as the dynamic duo behind Stonehill’s signature alumni event. 

“Reunion is all about our alumni,” says Sant. “Our goal is to create an experience where alums return to campus, reconnect with classmates and enjoy reminiscing about their time at Stonehill.”

Hosting 10 class years along with the Pillar Society—Stonehill's "50-year club"—for three activity-filled days is no small feat, but it is one that Sant and Silva relish. This year will mark Sant’s 37th Reunion, in which she has participated in some capacity, and Silva’s eleventh. 

“Reunion should be a memorable experience for our alums,” notes Silva. “Whether they come back to campus often or this is their first time since graduating, we want our alums to always feel like Stonehill is home.” 

How did your career path lead you to the Office of Alumni Engagement? 

Sant: I began as a student employee in the Alumni Office in May 1986, the summer after my sophomore year at Stonehill. As I was a criminal justice and psychology double major, I initially thought that I wanted to be in law enforcement or school counseling. However, after working in the Alumni Office for two years, I knew that I wanted to begin my career here. In 1989, I received a master's degree from Northeastern University and then returned to Stonehill’s Alumni Office as the assistant director. I became the director in 1995 and am still here! 

Silva: As a student, I was an inaugural member of the Student Alumni Association (SAA) and Anne, then a recent graduate, was our advisor. After graduation, I worked for several years in merchandising as a buyer for the retail division of Samsonite. I took a career hiatus for a handful of years to raise my children, during which time I worked part-time for the March of Dimes. I remained involved with Stonehill both as a member of the former Rhode Island Alumni Committee and every five years as a Reunion Committee member. It was during the planning of my 25th Reunion in 2018 that I learned of an open position within the Alumni Office and decided to return to Stonehill as member of the Alumni Engagement team.

What is a lesson from one of your Stonehill courses that you refer to often?

Sant: In a small seminar class taught by Professor Herbert Wessling, I learned to always be prepared. This class was taught in his office and had three or four students in it at the most. We sat in front of his desk and had to be ready to discuss any portion of the class readings whenever asked. Preparation was critical. Professor Wessling also had an outstanding sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye especially when he was teaching us humorous phrases in Latin. 

Silva: Senior year, I had Professor Ted Jula for what was the final marketing class of my Stonehill career. On the last day of classes, he shared with us some thoughts on the future, including that one day your ATM card would act like a credit card and that you would be able to order a pizza on a computer. Keep in mind, this was pre-Internet, debit cards and email. Needless to say, this seemed unimaginable—and yet here we are. I think back to that lesson often and remind myself that even when an idea seems far-fetched, nothing is impossible.

Sant and Silva [at the end of the first and second row] with the Student Alumni Association at Reunion 2023.

Reunion is Stonehill’s signature alumni event. What is your favorite part of the three days?

Sant: I love all of Reunion, but there are a few events that I love slightly more. At the very top of that list is the Pillar Society Induction Ceremony. Without fail, there are members from the 50th anniversary class at the event who are returning to Stonehill for the first time in 50 years! When our alumni receive their Pillar certificate and pin from President John Denning, C.S.C. at the ceremony, I can imagine them as undergraduates crossing the stage at their Commencement. 

Silva: Hands down, the people. I came to Stonehill for the first time 35 years ago and knew immediately that this was my place. The Stonehill community is like no other—that is on prime display every day but especially during Reunion. 

You both know many Stonehill alumni. What is something alums would be surprised to learn about you? 

Sant: I had a part-time position for years as Eben the Bear at The Enchanted Village at the Jordan Marsh flagship store in Boston’s Downtown Crossing. As Eben the Bear, I also appeared onstage with Deborah Gibson, Aaron Carter and Captain Kangaroo at the Boston Commons Christmas Tree Lighting and participated in parades all over the city. While Eben the Bear was my favorite costume character, I also enjoyed stints as the Berenstain Bears and the Stride Rite Dinosaur.

Silva: My husband and I have four children and live on a small farm. Throughout the years, we’ve had chickens, goats, a cow and a pig. Since I grew up in East Providence, this has been a running joke among my group of Stonehill friends for years. They can’t believe I am the one who lives in the country; quite honestly, it shocks me, too. But I enjoy the peaceful tranquility that country life affords me—just don’t expect me to go gather the eggs or feed the goats!

Stonehill’s motto is Lux et Spes, Light and Hope. How do you see this in your own life?

Sant: I try to approach all encounters, even the most difficult ones, with light and hope in my heart. If I can solve a problem, lend a hand, listen, be compassionate and lead with my heart, I hope it makes a difference. I don't always get it right, but I strive to do this in all that I do.

Silva: As a first-generation college student, I walked this campus having no idea the profound impact that Stonehill would have on me both personally and professionally. Stonehill has changed my life in so many ways but at the forefront would be the enduring friendships that I formed—friends that have seen me through the highs and lows of the last 35 years. That for me is light and hope.


Go Figure! Reunion 2024

Reunion 2024 will be held May 31-June 2. Take a look at the event by the numbers:

10 Classes celebrating along with the Pillar Society (1952-1973)
740 Alumni and guests currently registered from 22 states, including nine traveling from California and three from Oregon
35 Events held throughout the weekend
298 Alums will be inducted into the Pillar Society, making a total of 23 classes in Stonehill's "50-year club"
30 Student Alumni Association volunteers will help throughout Reunion