By KIMBERLY JONES
After school days are past and graduation is over; it is easy to move forward with life and not look back. But BYU alumni across the United States are coming together and staying connected through local chapters of the alumni association.
BYU alumnus Don Pearson said he thinks BYU students have a powerful effect as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after graduation.
And he?s not the only one. Pearson is chair of more than 6,000 alumni in the north chapter of Los Angeles, Calif.
He said he thinks graduates become ambassadors for the church throughout the world by the way they live and conduct their professional work.
?And many people are eager to participate,? he said.
The south chapter of Los Angeles has seen similar success. Jeff Parker, chair of the chapter, said he is striving to keep alumni connected and the students in the area coming to Provo.
Parker said he stays updated daily on the status of his alma mater and always tries to support the school whenever opportunities arise. Recently, in conjunction with the north chapter, alumni in Los Angeles threw a pre-game rally and party before the BYU vs. USC game, and attracted more than 1,000 fans in the area.
?We like to support BYU athletics teams when they?re here,? Parker said. ?I hope these students and alumni will feel obliged to offer direct assistance to BYU because of events like this.?
In Alabama, alumni feel the same.
Lanny Smartt, Alumni Chapter Chair in Birmingham, Ala., said BYU has unique characteristics that make it worth working for.
?BYU continues to be one of the few places remaining where an education may be obtained absent the destructive influences so common with other institutions,? he said.
Even living across the nation from the university, Smartt said he is trying to promote BYU locally and enforce a greater focus on youth in Alabama attending BYU.
?We simply try to give as much exposure to the university as we can,? he said.
Chris Kite, Alumni Chapter Chair in Cornelius, N.C., is also far from campus, but said he feels there are some benefits to the distance.
?You receive a broader exposure to different cultures,? he said. ?And we strive to draw the community, in addition to BYU alumni.?
Even though Kite is just getting his chapter started, they have already had Dallin H. Oaks out for a fireside and have thrown a ?The Work and the Glory? film night.
Through activities like this, e-mail updates and visits to Provo for Education Week, Kite feels like he can stay connected to campus, and he wants to.
?BYU is a great university that combines the gospel with scholarship,? he said. ?I want to continue to be a part of that.?