How Samueli Academy is helping graduates get college-ready with their first ever virtual networking event

Considering how the pandemic was disrupting all in-person plans for the year, Samueli Academy went completely virtual for their 4th annual virtual networking event - 2020 College Get Down. The high school brought in 27 volunteers from their community and a special keynote speaker to talk to their newest batch of alumni during the unique 2-hour networking event.


Panel Discussions




RSVPs in 12 days

William Peace University grand welcome to the Class of 2020 virtually with Almabase

About Samueli Academy

Ranked 163 in California High Schools, Samueli Academy welcomed its first class of 120 freshmen in August, 2013. A free, public charter high school in Santa Ana with over 550 alumni, Samueli Academy is ranked #1 in the Orange County Department Of High Schools. (Source:

Samueli Academy offers educationally under-served communities a new choice for the high school education of their teens. The institution’s goal is to ignite the passion within all students to reach their greatest potential through a nurturing and innovative learning environment.

What were the challenges faced by Samueli Academy?

Uncertainty amongst graduates about college or university preparedness

Every graduating class comes out with a lot of expectations. However, for the Class of 2020, the end of the academic year also brought along stress and uncertainty around their transition to college or university amidst a pandemic. Samueli Academy had to find a way to help these young graduates prepare themselves for college or university.

COVID-19 made it impossible to host their annual networking event in-person

Started in 2017, the networking event - College get Down is an annual tradition at the Samueli Academy but this year, the pandemic made it impossible to host this event on-campus.

Limited Staff Resources

As the only person handling Alumni Relations at Samueli Academy, Norah Sarsour, Director of Alumni Success, found it challenging to keep over 500 alumni engaged amidst a global pandemic.

What was Samueli Academy able to achieve using Almabase?

Organize a virtual networking event accessible to all their alumni amidst COVID-19

While Samueli Academy was already hosting quite a few virtual events ever since COVID-19 forced everyone to be confined to their homes, the school had never gone virtual for its annual networking event - College Get Down. This year, Samueli Academy successfully hosted its fourth annual networking event, College Get Down virtually, bringing in 27 speakers and 40 RSVPs in 12 days.

The College Get Down event is a fast paced 2-hour networking event, with experienced professionals sharing their life experiences with new graduates who are transitioning to college or university. 

The school set up a dedicated event page on its alumni network, laying down all the details needed for alumni to be able to participate. 

Check out the 2020 College Get Down! event page on Samueli Academy's alumni website

Samueli Academy urged its alumni community to volunteer as speakers for the event and also roped in a keynote speaker - Azure Antionette, a poet, brand humanist, and creative strategist who is known as "the Maya Angelou of the Millennial generation”.

The event was kickstarted with an opening note by Susan and Henry Samueli (long-time supporters of the school) and was followed by zoom breakout room sessions where speakers discussed relevant resources and strategies that would help young graduates transition and stay successful in college.  

To ensure that all attendees get exposure and value, the speakers included working professionals from different fields, college students, community based organizations, and university and college support professionals and professors.

Samueli Academy marketed the virtual networking event widely across social media platforms and emails. 

Samueli Academy calls for volunteers via email

Email invite to the virtual event for Class of 2020 graduates

Here’s a glimpse of some of the creative posts on Samueli Academy’s alumni page on Facebook.

View the post on Facebook

A screenshot of the virtual event posted on Facebook after the event ended. View the post on Facebook

Support & empower their alumni community via easily accessible  services

Samueli Academy realized the hardships that their Class of 2020 graduates were facing during the pandemic and wanted to support them in every way possible. The school had the responsibility of providing these young graduates with the right exposure and valuable resources before they transitioned to college. 

While Samueli Academy couldn’t make this incredible event happen in-person this year, the school was able to deliver great value to its graduates by bringing home to them all the information that they needed to feel confident about their future at college or university.

Over the course of the virtual event, speakers talked about multiple important topics that college students need to be aware of and be prepared for. Below are the details for each breakout session that was conducted:

The school also shared some useful learning resources with the Class of 2020 graduates one hour before the event.

Email sent to Class of 2020 alumni with a Google Drive link to exclusive learning resources

In addition to the sessions and the learning resources, Samueli Academy made things even more interesting with exciting raffle prizes!

Raffle prizes were announced 2 days prior to the 2020 College Get Down event

Samueli Academy continues to host successful virtual events and provide valuable programming that is accessible to all their alumni. Head over to Samueli Academy’s alumni website to see more examples of accessible alumni programming.

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