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‘This place is truly magical’: Alumni return to campus for reunion

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Approximately 7,500 alumni and guests attended Stanford’s Alumni Reunion from Thursday through Sunday after a year of postponement, according to Director of Alumni and Student Class Outreach Victor Madrigal ’94. 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University enforced precautions to safeguard the health of the Stanford community. All reunion attendees were required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and had to show proof of vaccination upon arrival, medical and religious exceptions notwithstanding. Visitors were also required to complete a health check, and masks were mandatory both indoors and outdoors when within six feet of others.

The reunion featured a multitude of events, including both classic and new traditions. Alumni attended the signature Dinner on the Quad on Thursday, learned from fellow alumni at the cutting edge of their fields in Classes Without Quizzes and attended various mini-reunions. Mini-reunions were based on class year and extracurricular interests, taking place in the form of panel discussions, lunches and parties.

During the weekend, several alumni shared highlights from their Stanford experiences, and offered advice to current students on maximizing their time at Stanford. 

Congressman Joaquin Castro ’96 recounted Stanford’s vibrant community and the diversity of thought that he experienced as an undergraduate. Describing Stanford as a “warm and welcoming place,” Castro said that he grew as a person, and learned a lot about the world during his time on campus.

“It was the first place that I really met people that were from different cultures, faiths and backgrounds,” Castro said. “And so in many ways, it opened my eyes up to the world.” 

Castro advised students to talk to as many people at Stanford as they can. He said, “The most valuable thing that happens here is interacting with your classmates.” 

For Andy Parker ’11, the best part about Stanford was the people he met. His appreciation for the relationships he built as an undergraduate made his return to campus particularly special. 

“Especially this time — when the last two years we’ve been cut off from a lot of people in our lives — it’s such a treat to be able to come back and reconnect with folks that I hadn’t seen in a while,” Parker said.

Outside of mini-reunions and Dinner on the Quad, popular events during the reunion included Alumni Oral Histories, men’s and women’s soccer games at Cagan Stadium and a micro-lecture on “Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain,” which was attended by Jane Phillips ’65. 

Phillips said that the open nature of the micro-lecture differed from the mindset of her community at home, where people do not ask as many questions. “As people get older, they tend to cling to what they know, as opposed to what they don’t,” she said. She added, however, that “there are always new things, new issues, new inventions and new ideas. And here, that’s embraced.” 

Ronnie Tisdale ’10 shared Phillips’s appreciation for Stanford’s intellectualism and community. 

“This place is truly magical,” Tisdale said. “I’m overwhelmed by the renewed, rekindled and reestablished relationships and the feelings, smells and sensations. Every opportunity to be here is a true pleasure — so I’m overjoyed.” 

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Ila Mathur writes for The Daily's News section. Contact Ila at news 'at' stanforddaily.com.