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Credit: Illustration by Jackie Ferrentino

Alumni Association news

Architects of possible

When Clara Fangfang Ma, Ed '16 (Cert), '17 (Cert, MEd), '23 (Cert), came to the United States from China nearly nine years ago to pursue graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University, she felt anxious about the challenges she faced as an immigrant. But interacting with JHU professors who were also immigrants and became her mentors profoundly changed her outlook.

"Seeing those who share similar experiences, background, or identity thrive in a position of power sends a message that those roles are not exclusive to a particular set of people," she says. "I started thinking, 'Yes, I can also be there one day.'"

Now as a U.S. citizen with several Hopkins degrees to her name, an adjunct professor at Carey Business School, and founder of an educational consulting business, Ma is eager to share her inspirational story. So she was thrilled to record a video for Hopkins Possible, a new engagement campaign for alums to share their stories on social media and show how Hopkins helped shape who they are today.

"We are hoping to draw alumni closer to Johns Hopkins and closer to each other," says Brian Shields, senior director of Communications for Development and Alumni Relations. "The idea is to meet alumni where they are and engage them where their comfort level is. It's a gathering that reflects the greatness of the university through our people who are out there doing amazing things."

The goal is to link the positive influence of Hopkins to their current lives, says Jason Heiserman, executive director of Alumni Relations. "What did your Hopkins experience make possible for you?" he says. "This isn't meant to be a commercial for the university. It's about the alumni perspective. Many can point to something at Hopkins that was a springboard for them. It's about alums sharing stories about themselves and the role Hopkins played in those stories."

Hopkins Possible was a year in the making and drew, among other things, upon responses from Zoom focus groups of alumni from the 1960s through 2018 across the university's schools. The Office of Alumni Relations is promoting the initiative via social channels, print ads, email, and inperson events. The hope is that alumni will be eager to participate using the HopkinsPossible hashtag while tagging @jhu_alumni on Instagram and @johnshopkins on Facebook.

The campaign's three components, "connect, collaborate, and celebrate," are aimed at deepening relationships with other alumni and the university, and inspiring meaningful ways to become involved, such as mentoring. "I love my mentors," Ma says. "Ultimately, I'd like to mentor and become a role model for others."