Photograph by Mike Topham
In the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, it’s common to hear students and professors discussing how to use a leadership studies major. But at the Jepson EDGE Institute, an annual workshop for Jepson students, alumni mentors gather to give back to the community that pushed them to be the leaders they are today.

Since Jepson graduated its first class in 1994, Jepson alumni have been the best-equipped advisers for current students on how they can apply the leadership skills they’ve developed to their professional lives.

“They’re the folks who can tell them how to best leverage what they’ve taken from Jepson,” said Kerstin Soderlund, associate dean for student and external affairs. “It really helps our students understand that there’s pretty much almost every field and industry that they can go into.”

Jepson developed the program with both alumni and student input, structuring it with breakout sessions such as Elevator Pitch, the Ins & Outs of Interviewing, Backpack to Briefcase, and How to Use a LDST [Leadership Studies] Degree. Students are also paired with alumni mentors. This year, 80 students and 47 alumni attended; an additional 25 alumni helped organize the event.

EDGE “literally rises and falls on the alumni doing the planning and showing up,” Soderlund said. “The Jepson alumni have such a community when they’re here as students, and they want to come back.”