How do you make networking fun? Attend the Chapman Alumni Mixer.
More than 500 Chapman University alumni did just that as they gathered at the twinkle-lit outdoor patios of Lionsgate Headquarters in Santa Monica to share drinks, stories, and appetizers. Oh, and business cards, of course.
Sponsored by a variety of Chapman’s schools and colleges, and hosted by the Career and Professional Development office, this annual event is proving to be a must for Chapman alumni. Each year, the mixer boasts record-breaking numbers of alumni and current students who come out to reconnect with old friends, meet new faces, and network.
“The alumni mixer has been a staple. It’s great to see what other people are doing, and it’s opened up opportunities for me, too,” says William Schoenfeld ’13, “This event says a lot about the Chapman family. Every year this gets bigger and bigger. Everyone is so excited not just to network but to share their experience. It’s an extraordinarily positive amalgamation of so many people from so many different walks of life yet Chapman unites them all.”
The Alumni Mixer does indeed unite grads from different fields and walks of life. Akin Ceylan ’90, Chief Operating Officer of home entertainment and global content delivery for Lionsgate and former president of the Chapman Alumni Association, also praised the interdisciplinarity that describes the Chapman experience: “We have a wide array of the college and university schools represented here, from Fowler School of Law to the Argyros School of Business and Economics. It shows that we’ve got a representation of all types of disciplines that actually belong in the entertainment industry. And that’s what makes the entertainment industry grow—having all those different perspectives.”
Panthers from all industries came out to meet, mingle, and share their experiences. Naveed Mahhoobian (JD ’11) said, “This event is special because we’re all here from all the different schools of Chapman, and it’s great to meet people from the industry from whatever field you’re in—and connections are everything when it comes to entertainment, and just business in general.”
Heidi Swanson, undergraduate career advisor at Chapman’s Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, also believes there’s a place for diverse fields in the entertainment industry—including the health sciences. “Recently I’ve seen a lot of interest in therapy through dance, through performance, through movement, and there’s a lot of partnership opportunities through physical therapy and performance or communication therapy, speech language pathology.”
For many, collaboration across fields wouldn’t be possible without the Chapman connection.
“This event is really important to me because it brings our community together. It’s really a testament to the breadth of talent in the entertainment market that Chapman has put out there, as well as the foundation we share from Chapman.” Akin said. “When I meet another Chapman alum, I already have a sense of their core values—and that’s something I can count on.”
Almog Avidan Antonir ’13, director of Almonia Productions and a Dodge alumnus, is quick to share: “I talk about Chapman all the time.” The freelance writer-director continues, “Chapman really paved the way for my career and the connections I’ve made have helped carry me post-grad, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without the Chapman family.” Antonir’s own Chapman family helped him create a successful web-series “Long Story Short,” and sketch group, “Almost Cool,” with his Chapman friends, Tom Assam-Miller ’14, Heston Horwin ’14, and Chase Cargill ‘14. “Long Story Short” was named one of the Top 10 Web-Series of 2014 by “LA Weekly,” and the “Almost Cool” group has worked with brands including Sony, Lionsgate, Bud Light, 20th Century Fox, and more. Antonir says, “It’s been great to see old and new faces tonight.”
The Alumni Mixer isn’t just for grads—Rebecca Pirayou MBA ’19 came to the Alumni Mixer with a dream to work in the entertainment industry even before she was a Chapman student. Now, Pirayou is graduating this spring with her MBA and is also involved in Chapman’s Entertainment Onramp program. While at Chapman, she’s worked on films, assisted on sets, and had opportunities to make connections in the film and law schools. “I came out tonight to reinforce that I can do this and go after it. This event is where I met a lot of who guided me and helped me. I hope that other people find that. I definitely think it’s a really important night for everyone.”
Arianna Ngnomire ’19, says, “It was a great to connect with people who were seniors previously, and see if I can get involved in their projects.” The BFA screen–acting major is graduating this spring, and plans to focus on creating projects that reflect both people of color and queer people.
One word to describe the evening? “Entertaining.” Ngnomire says, “It’s nice to let go and not to have to impress each other. I laughed more than I thought I was going to! I thought I was going to have to be real serious. Seeing my peers and people who I look up to do amazing things was awesome.” She concludes, “This is a reminder of what a Chapman education can get me. This is a reminder of what you can create yourself and be a part of.”