The annual B.L.U.E. (Builiding Leadership Understanding and Education) networking and mentoring event, hosted by the Mississippi University for Women Alumni Association, brought students, alumni and staff together on Feb. 4. This year’s event was re-designed as a virtual experience that featured speed networking, a keynote speaker and a diverse panel of alumni. The program was designed to facilitate ongoing education and to create connections between alumni, students, faculty and community members.

The event opened with a round of speed networking that paired participants with each other for two minutes before moving to the next match. Afterward, participants heard from keynote speaker, Elizabeth Wood, professional in the human resources field. “We learned from each other, shared perspectives and had fun,” Wood said.

Wood’s career in human resources has given her the opportunity to work with such well-known brands as Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein and Levi’s. Across both privately held and public companies, she has led teams in learning and development, diversity and inclusion, organization development and HR technology and operations.

Participants also heard from the alumni panel, with each talking about their career paths, mentorship and leadership advice. Panel members include: Menuka Ban, MPP, MS, ‘13; Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell, PhD, ‘03; Shannon Ivey, MFA, AEA, ‘97; Jeromie Jones ‘00 and Angela D. Smith, Esq. ‘11. The panel was followed by interactive breakout sessions based on major or field of study to talk about the night’s discussion topics.

This event saw an increase in attendance, as well as an increase in sponsorship funds. “I am so proud of the MUWAA mentoring committee for the hard work they put into B.L.U.E.,” said mentoring committee chair, Christie Jones Lawrence.

“We are so thankful for the support of our amazing alumni who helped organize the event, share their professional experiences and spend an evening networking and mentoring with our students and early graduates,” said Rebecca Rogers, MUWAA president. “It’s been a year of firsts for us. We faced the challenge of yet another first-ever virtual event, but we made it interactive, innovative and educational.”