Throughout her career in higher education, April Mann has sought jobs that keep her close to students.
At UMMC, she found one that also keeps her closer to her loved ones.
On Oct. 1, Mann took over as director of alumni affairs, replacing Geoffrey Mitchell, who retired in May.
A Birmingham native who earned her undergraduate degree at Mississippi State University, Mann arrived in Jackson from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, moving here with Lily, her 9-year-old Yorkshire terrier.
“This is the closest I have lived to family and friends since college,” said Mann, former director of UNC’s Office of New Student & Carolina Parent Programs.
“It’s a great professional and personal move for me.”
Professionally speaking, she now leads a six-member office, including Ginger Daniels, long-time associate director. The staff’s goal is to keep former Medical Center students connected and deeply engaged with their alma mater.
“For some folks, that may be speaking at an alumni luncheon, or volunteering for alumni board, or serving as a student mentor or giving back financially,” said Mann, who received her Master of Education degree at the University of South Carolina and is pursuing her Doctor of Education.
“What’s important is that we at Alumni Affairs provide that array of opportunities for them, whether they live in Jackson or anywhere in the world.” That’s one of her two major goals. The other is producing publications for all Medical Center alumni from all schools.
Personally speaking, Mann is living much closer to her family in Birmingham; her fiancé and many of her college friends from Starkville are now in the Jackson area.
For that reason, UMMC had an emotional pull on Mann, who has lived as far away as Miami and who worked for the last seven-plus years in Chapel Hill, overseeing programs, events and newsletters centered on students’ and their families’ needs.
“It’s similar to working in Alumni Affairs,” Mann said, “although the audience is a little different.”
Still, her office will step up efforts to reach out to current students and young alumni as well, she said.
It is Mann’s fondness for students that almost led her to a teaching career. “But then I realized there are other opportunities to work closely with students; through policy, you can have a big impact on them as well.”
At Mississippi State, she received another eye-opener that will serve her well in her new position here.
“I was in the Alumni Delegates program, which connected students and alumni. It was then that I began to understand the valuable role alumni play in any institution by giving back.
“It meant a lot to me as an undergraduate student. We hope to provide those same experiences here at UMMC.”