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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2024 Alumni Engagement Director Julia Jakuboski

Name: Julia Jakuboski

Major: Political science

Minors: Middle Eastern studies and sociology

Previous THON Experience: 
THON 2022: Entertainment committee member
THON 2023: Donor and Alumni Relations development captain

What made you want to apply for a director position for THON 2024?

I wanted to become a director for the largest student-run philanthropy in the world because I want to make a difference in an organization that continues to make an astounding impact in the lives of families impacted by childhood cancer. By spreading awareness and continuing to grow this organization, we are making a lasting impact by spreading THON’s mission across the globe. THON has become a passion of mine, and our Four Diamonds families are why I THON.

Watching the smiles, hearing the laughter, and seeing the strength these children continuously show empowers me to want to give even more to THON. They inspire me to make a difference every day in my THON work and beyond. I hope to see the day when all children can grow up and they are able to live out their dreams. 

I wanted to serve as the Alumni Engagement Director to continue spreading our mission to our amazing alumni network and help them make a lasting impact even when their four years in college are over. Regardless of how long ago our alumni graduated from Penn State, they continue to spread THON’s mission. Seeing generations of Penn Staters remain dedicated to the growth of this organization is incredibly inspiring.

What are your responsibilities as a THON director?

As the Alumni Engagement director, I serve as the primary liaison between THON and our 25,000+ alumni supporters. I work alongside the Penn State Alumni Association to help engage alumni groups nationwide to spread awareness and fundraise on behalf of THON. I also serve on the board of directors for the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group (DMAIG), a group of passionate Penn State alumni who work hard to continue in the fight after graduation. Finally, I lead a committee of 15 captains and over 100 committee members who work to develop and expand the variety of alumni initiatives we offer and communicate these opportunities to our alumni.

What do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and differs from years past?

This year, I really want alumni, regardless of how far removed they are from State College, to feel the magic and power of THON’s mission. I have focused on developing educational resources for graduating seniors to find ways to get involved in THON after graduation. Nationwide, there are so many large alumni events that support THON. Working alongside PSAA, we are finding ways to connect seniors to alumni chapters.

For our alumni who live outside of State College, we have virtual awareness campaigns and fundraising opportunities to connect them to THON’s mission. Through these interactive campaigns, livestream gameshows, and virtual connection series, my vision is to connect our alumni supporters to our families through meaningful interactions.

What makes your committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

Alumni Engagement is such a special committee because we get to work and interact with so many inspirational and compassionate alumni supporters. It is empowering to listen to stories from alumni about how they discovered a passion for THON as a Penn State student and hear how that passion continues to grow even after they graduate. The Penn State Alumni community is truly one of the most passionate groups I have ever worked with. Watching the generational dedication to THON and spreading THON’s mission around the world is remarkable. The relations we maintain with our alumni supporters is essential to providing emotional and financial support for our families.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2024?

This year, the Alumni Engagement Committee is working to empower the alumni community to feel connected to THON. Fostering a culture of positivity, passion, and empathy is at the core of my overall goals this year. THON is a place that symbolizes infinite dreams and represents a community of passionate individuals who want to make a difference. I want to ensure that every student volunteer and alumni supporter feels empowered to ignite hope, provide support, and give our families the courage to conquer.

Why do you THON?

THON holds a very special place in my heart. I THON for a future without childhood cancer. That one day, we can dance in celebration of a cure. Our families are at the core of our mission. Each and every day, our families show us what it means to embody courage, wisdom, honesty, and strength. I THON to provide emotional and financial support to our families, so they can focus on making life-long memories. No family should ever have to hear the words, “Your child has cancer.” Our families inspire me to make a difference every day in my THON work and beyond. I hope to see the day where all children can grow up and they are able to live out their dreams. Every child should be able to experience a happy and joyful childhood, and I will continue to support THON’s mission until the day we conquer childhood cancer.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

There are so many memories that cross my mind when I think about my favorite THON memory. One memory that I hold so close to my heart is Final Four during THON 2022. This was my first THON and the entire weekend was magical, especially the last four hours. I will never forget standing in the upper bowl with my ENT committee as we listened to family stories, felt the energy radiated in the BJC, and watched the magic of THON happen all around us.

Those four hours were beautiful, emotional, and unforgettable. We stood with our arms around each other and allowed ourselves to take in all of the emotions. Experiencing this moment alongside my committee who I had grown so close to was so special. Final Four was one of the most impactful experiences and I constantly think back to those moments we shared. It was truly magical to look around the BJC and feel so much love and see the effort thousands of students put into THON.

Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why?

I would say a Spinosaurus because this is one of the only known dinosaurs that lived in the water! I love being at the beach, so I think spending most of my day by the shore and swimming around would be perfect.

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About the Author

McKenzie Clauss

McKenzie is a junior majoring in psychology from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania. She loves sharks, Kris Jenner, and taking naps. You can get in touch with her on Instagram @mckenzie.clauss or send an email to [email protected].

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