Every year, CMU holds a Carnival that coincides with Alumni Reunion weekend. Carnival is primarily for the undergraduates. That's where you get the infamous Buggy Races. There's also a literal carnival in a parking lot and lots of entertainment. Also a lot of undergraduates drinking in the street.
This weekend I volunteered to help out with Tepper Alumni Weekend. Last year, Welcome Weekend fell on Carnival/Alumni weekend, so I was already a little familiar with what was going on. Actually, all I did was say Hi to peeps and give them gift bags as they registered. The classes that ended with 7 and 2 (e.g. 2002, 2007) were here for their factor of 5 reunion. David Tepper, our benefactor, was here for his 30 year reunion. A couple of big wigs were around as well as Tepper; the CEO of NextEra Energy and Francisco D'Souza, the head of Cognizant consulting.
As a thank you for our volunteer efforts, myself and the others who also volunteered were invited to attend the Alumni celebration dinner. Unfortunately, it was at the same time as the 80's Prom (an event sponsored by multiple clubs on campus). However, I decided to go to the alumni event with the hopes of doing some networking.
That really didn't happen. As it turned out, the vast majority of the people I tried to talk to were just interested in catching up with their former classmates. I also found myself in a very weird place, a place that I've been in a few times before and immensely disliked it. I was attending the dinner with a number of my classmates (all male) and three of them had wives. Somehow or another, I ended up spending my time with the wives. Not to say that they were not wonderful people, but their talk revolved around what they did when their husband was at school. Every once in a while I would interject with a story... but it was about school. I had no real way of relating to these women and their woes. As it was, unfortunately, I wore non-sensible shoes and couldn't really go join my classmates as it was a lot more comfortable on the couch where we were sitting and talking.
Looking around at the alumni, too, I noticed the vast majority were men, and a lot of women I talked to were partners of the alums. Granted, I know that back then it was a male degree.
It brought me back to the time in which I was the only white person at a Black History dinner that I attended once in my undergrad. I was this oddity who didn't exactly fit in, and therefore was easily ignored.
It didn't make me upset or annoyed, just intrigued in the ways of the human mind, and conscientious of how it may make me be perceived as. I'm about to jump into a predominantly male industry that has a customer base that in some cases, isn't very nice to females (and some of that customer base also work in the industry), so I have to know my battlefield.
I also vowed to go out and buy more comfortable shoes.