Making Connections

Making Connections

Christina Smiros ’15 and Eric Weissmann ’10 reflect on the importance of Reunion.

Commemorating a Reunion—whether 5, 10, or 15 years—is always cause for celebration. It’s also an ideal time to reminisce and make new connections. Although this fall’s in-person events have been postponed, our Reunion committees are working hard to make sure the festivities, hopefully taking place in the spring of 2021, will be full of University of Rochester spirit. Here, Reunion volunteers Christina Smiros ’15 and Eric Weissmann ’10 reflect on the importance of Reunion and their special ties to the University.

Christina Smiros ’15

Christina Smiros in cap and gown in quad

Photo contributed by Christina Smiros.

Leading up to their five-year Reunion in 2020, Christina Smiros ’15, a Neuroscience and Studio Art major, and her classmates were seeking a way to reconnect as a class. They didn’t have to look beyond their phones for the solution: a class of 2015 Instagram page. Smiros, who is both an artist and freelance social media expert says, “Instagram was a natural choice since it’s where a lot of the class spends their online leisure time.”

The page features “Where are they now?” posts with photos and life updates from their classmates, photos of pets and family members, and even some glances into kitchens of the more recipe-ambitious alumni. Followers are also invited to submit throwbacks from their time at the University, which are then featured on the page.

In addition to helping run the Instagram page and her own social media work, Smiros creates masks alongside her brother, Dean Smiros ’17 and her freshman roommate, Sasha Ganeles ’15. Smiros also volunteers on the Reunion committee. She enjoys volunteering because of her deep connection with the Rochester family. She says, “I’ve always found great joy in fostering community. It’s an honor five years out to continue to help strengthen the bonds we share as a class.” With the Instagram page and future Reunion events, Smiros hopes to remind members of the class of 2015 of their deep friendships and connections.

Although this fall’s in-person Reunion has been postponed, alumni are now hoping to celebrate together in the spring of 2021. Smiros is specifically looking forward to “seeing old friends, eating a garbage plate, and touring the campus that’s grown so much.” She thinks that participating in Reunion events—whether online or in person—is a great opportunity to slow down, reminisce, and reconnect. She says, “Especially for our class, who are just establishing our lives (in a very tumultuous time), it’s important to take a breath and be with the people who have helped us become who we are today.”

Eric Weissmann ’10

Eric Weissman’s kids show their Rochester pride

Eric Weissmann’s kids show their Rochester pride

Eric Weissmann ’10 has been deeply involved with his class since he started at the University of Rochester in 2006. First, as class president, and then following graduation as chair of his 5th, and now 10th Reunion. Weissmann, political science major then, now Global Director of Marketing Demand Generation at Danaher Corporation, a Fortune 500 science and technology conglomerate, is also a passionate alumni volunteer and serves on the Alumni Board and as cochair of the Chicago Network Leadership Cabinet in the UR Chicago Network.

In a recent conversation, Weissmann shares that being a volunteer is more than the roles you hold and the meetings you attend.

Weissmann first celebrated Reunion five years ago and he really enjoyed talking to classmates as part of planning for Reunion activities. Most of his responsibilities include reaching out to classmates via phone, email, and social media, and he finds Reunion a great excuse to explore what graduates are up to. “It’s also really exciting to plan alumni events and activities to try to recreate our college days and just have fun,” he says.

“Our experience as students is made possible by the energy and dedication of those who attended before us. They helped make the University what it was by the time we got there. I feel it is my obligation and pleasure to remain involved so that I can be an influence for the generations that come after, and so that the University of Rochester can continue to make a name for itself. I am so proud of the research and achievements that are coming out of the University today.”
Class of 2010 Reunion co-chair Sandra Gelinas ’10 (left) celebrates their 5th Reunion with Weissman (right) in 2015.

Class of 2010 Reunion co-chair Sandra Gelinas ’10 (left) celebrates their 5th Reunion with Weissmann (right) in 2015.

Reunion is not always on the forefront of every graduate’s mind. Weissmann shares that not everyone is excited about returning because their relationship with the University might be different—and that’s okay.

To them, Weissmann asks, “Why not attend? What’s the worst that can happen? You spend a weekend in a beautiful place, eat a Garbage Plate, explore campus spaces, and meet up with a handful of people that you took classes with.”

Weissmann adds, “At Reunion, you can laugh about all of the funny things that happened in the past. Reunion is a place where everyone from different groups and backgrounds come together and form new relationships. I’ve seen spouses become friends with other spouses, and people connect over realizing they now live in the same city or work in the same industry.”

Late last year, Weissmann unexpectedly experienced a unique UR connection of his own. In December of 2019, his three-week-old daughter was admitted to a local Chicago Hospital, near where Weissmann and his family live, with a respiratory virus. After spending some time discussing the treatment and plans for his child, the family began to settle in. As the doctor began to leave, she looked at Weissmann, removed her mask, and asked if he attended the University of Rochester. Eric shared that yes, in fact he did, and she replied that she did too and was just a couple of years behind him, but she remembered seeing him on campus.

“I immediately felt comforted, that even though I didn’t know her very well when we were students, we were drawn together by a commonality.”

We’re looking forward to celebrating Reunion in-person, but only when it is safe to do so for our alumni across the country and around the world. We hope to welcome you to Rochester in the spring of 2021 to celebrate those with class years ending in 5 and 0.

Are you looking to volunteer with your Reunion or as a class representative? Visit Reunion online or complete our volunteer form to learn more.

— Emily Gillette and Sydney Burrows