By Talia Bank ’23

When she’s not working as a certified bilingual school counselor, licensed mental health counselor, and writer, Pamela Mazza ’92 volunteers as the New York Regional Chapter Chair organizing and hosting the Mac in Your City event and other gatherings in New York. Macalester Today caught up with her to learn more.

Q: What led you to start hosting Mac in Your City events?

A: When I was living in Los Angeles as a young alum, I went to an event for President Rosenberg’s inaugural tour, hosted at a Mac grad’s home. It was a beautiful event, and I remember thinking what a kind service they were providing to the school. It got my attention about people volunteering their time and space to bring alumni together.

I also attended class reunions, and sought to initiate the first Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at those events. That was the first time it had occurred to me to reach out and say, “I would like to organize something.” I had stopped drinking in my twenties, and was looking for a Reunion experience that did not involve drinking, and to create a safe space for others doing the same. At the first Friends of Bill meeting at Reunion, I was pleasantly surprised by bumping into former classmates who were seeking an alcohol-free environment as well. People from all different ages went to that meeting, so it was a great opportunity to have conversations with people from different classes, who I might not have interacted with otherwise. It was a deeply gratifying experience to make this available to alums going forward, and one of my favorite parts of Reunion. I appreciated that Mac put it on the calendar for me, and allowed me to make it happen.

Eventually, I volunteered to organize alumni events in Miami when I lived in Florida, and later in New York City, where I live now.

Q: What kinds of events do you host?

A: We have had a couple of rooftop bar events that attract the younger alums. For more intellectually-centered activities, I found quality, free events at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, and arranged outings where people would sit together and discuss it afterwards. We organized service-oriented events too, like joining cleanups in wildlife areas in Queens, and student peer reading events in the Bronx. It has been a great experience.

Q: What motivates you to continue volunteering and engaging with the alumni community?

A: I have a lot of gratitude for Macalester. Minnesota in the ’80s and ’90s was a difficult place for me to be in some ways, as a person who did not present as white, but it was also such a unique experience, singular education, and extraordinary peer community with a sense of civic responsibility. Even now, when I meet a new Macalester person out in the world, I get pretty excited about it; Mac grads typically greet each other like old friends. At Macalester we have a certain sensibility and experience that you are just not quite going to get anywhere else.

July 18 2023

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