Karen Carlson Named 2009 Honorary Alumni Association Member

May 22, 2009
Caltech Awards 2009 Honorary Alumni Association Membership
PASADENA, Calif.- Annually the Caltech Alumni Association Board of Directors selects one or more exceptional members of the Institute community, who are not Caltech degree holders, to become honorary members. The 2009 recipient of the Honorary Alumni Association membership award is Karen Carlson. Membership in the Caltech Alumni Association is limited to a rather exclusive group. If you haven't had the pleasure of decrypting a senior stack on Ditch Day, recording Petri dish culture data at 2:00 am, or sprinting across campus to turn in your open-book final before the deadline, you probably aren't eligible to join. However, every year the Caltech Alumni Association grants membership to non-Techers ? instead of spending years mired in advanced math and physics courses, they earn it by making a huge impact on the lives of Caltech students and alumni. And for more than 20 years, Karen Carlson did just that through her work with the Caltech community. Karen came to Caltech in 1984, and started work as a program coordinator. Through the years, she ascended the ranks of the Alumni Association to assistant director and ultimately associate director. Throughout her tenure, Karen worked closely with the undergraduate admissions office, helping to identify prospective Caltech freshmen. She would meet promising students, go to college fairs, and read applications. Additionally, she developed and led an international group of several hundred alumni volunteers to recruit new students and spread the word about the Institute. Because of her interaction with students in all "stages" of their Caltech careers, it was not uncommon for one of Karen's pre-frosh to end up as one of her valued volunteers years later. This long-term connection is a tribute to Karen's kindness and devotion, maintaining lasting, meaningful relationships with virtually everyone she meets. Karen provided career support to alumni, and often extended her services to students as well. Karen's vast personal network of alumni contacts enabled her to match up groups of students and alumni to help find jobs, internships, and other networking opportunities. Karen had herself become a one-woman Caltech career network, and was a hub of information for anyone looking for career advice and resources. Beyond her work at Caltech, Karen dedicated time to volunteer for her church, stay active within the greater Pasadena community, and be a wife and mother. Karen also found the time to demonstrate her skill at "Norwegian Golf" ? a game she imported from Minnesota and introduced to the Alumni Association staff; the tournament quickly became an annual summertime tradition. In the summer of 2008, Karen left Caltech to return to her roots. She became Director of Alumni Relations at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, her alma mater. The Carlsons have relocated, and are now closer to their extended family in the Midwest. Karen will be recognized at the Alumni Association's Annual Dinner on June 12 at Caltech's Athenaeum where she will receive a framed certificate of honorary membership in the Alumni Association. Including this year's honoree, 97 people have been named honorary members of the Caltech Alumni Association. For more information, including a list of previous recipients, see http://alumni.caltech.edu/about/haa. Caltech Alumni Association
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