We are alumni

We are alumni of the University of Helsinki

Anna Autere is an alumna

I joined the Alumni Association soon after my graduation. I enjoyed my studies and recognized their importance in my life, so I wanted to stay in touch with the University after graduating. Yliopisto magazine, one of the perks available to members, has kept me up to date with what’s happening at the University and in research. I’m a lifelong learner at heart and, for me as an alumna, it is important to find out about interesting university lectures open to the public. The Alumni Association also organises a wide variety of interesting events, which I’ve enjoyed and which have allowed me to meet new people, both other alumni and students. I also appreciate meeting and supporting today’s students through the Association’s volunteer activities. Being a member of the Alumni Association makes me feel part of the academic community although I work in the corporate world.

Anna Autere
Faculty of Arts

Asko Mäkelä is an alumnus

Alumni can help students – and the university – as mentors to find their place in their field. I learned a great deal about the expertise available at the university during my time on the advisory committee of university of Helsinki Funds. now i participate in alumni events to engage in similar, intellectually stimulating conversations and access the latest knowledge. Fundraising is important for all, including those of us who have studied the humanities. i have personally had the opportunity to donate 1,000 euros to the university, and intend to make a similar contribution in the future. All donations, regardless of size, make a difference.

As an alumnus, I hope the university understands that students are its most important clients. Right now it seems as if students have been left to fend for themselves in a maze of bureaucracy. Perhaps a new type of amanuensis could provide staff with better opportunities to concentrate on supporting students in becoming excellent scholars. The Alumni Association gives me the chance to shape the future of an international university. Although money is important, the humanities help reduce inequality and expand democracy. For me, being an alumnus is about promoting optimism.

Asko Mäkelä
Faculty of Arts


I arrived at the University of Helsinki as an exchange student during the academic year 1989–1990, at the end of the Soviet era. After completing my master’s degree at the University of Tartu, I came back to Helsinki to write my doctoral dissertation, working as a researcher. I lived in Helsinki for nine years altogether, and the University still feels like home to me. Nowadays I am the head of the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Tartu, but membership of the Alumni Association of the University of Helsinki helps me preserve a feeling of having a connection to my alma mater.

The distance prevents me from attending Alumni Association events, but I have been to the biggest parties in the Department of Computer Science, such as professors’ retirement parties and the Department’s 50th anniversary celebration. A couple of years ago, I also attended the conferment ceremony for doctoral graduates from the Faculty of Science – 15 years after I received my degree. That was one of the grandest events I have ever been to.By reading the Alumni Association emails, I am able to compare alumni activities in Helsinki and Tartu. It seems that discipline-specific, small-scale alumni activities in Estonia are more regular than in Helsinki, but in terms of University-wide activities, we still have some way to go.

Jaak Vilo
Faculty of Science

Janne Wikström is an alumnus

Ever since my graduation, it’s been clear to me that I want to stay in close contact with the University of Helsinki Alumni association. My identity is inextricably linked to the academic community, and the University of Helsinki is my alma mater. It was also my work­place for some 15 years. Although I often collaborated with the Alumni Association when working at the University, becoming a member and participating in the Association activities didn’t seem evident. I didn’t appreciate their value until I changed jobs in the winter of 2016. But since then, I’ve par­ticipated in the association’s events and other activities on a monthly basis. The activities make me feel I haven’t left the University or lost the friendships I made during my studies and academic career. They also give me an even greater incentive to continue my professional collaboration with the University of Helsinki.

Janne Wikström
Faculty of social sciences/Swedish school of social sciences

Katriina Palmroth-Ramm-Schmidt is an alumna

I eagerly participated in establishing the Alumni Association at the end of the 350th anniversary of the University of Helsinki. At the time, I worked as a PR and press officer at the University, but soon after transferred to a communications position in the private sector. For six years, I served as the communications coordinator of the association’s board, since it was a natural way of keeping a link with the University.

Later, my contact with the University has mostly been through meeting old acquaintances at anniversary parties, as well as occasion-ally attending book club meetings. Some years ago, I visited a career orientation course for students of media and communications, talking about my career. Studies at the University are based on theory (as they should be), which makes practical experience helpful for students’ career planning.

Being an alumni of the University of Helsinki is also a sort of tradition in my family. My father studied to be a forester, my moth-er was a teacher of biology and geography, and my daughter graduated with her JD a few years ago. Also, my grandfather studied farming and economics at the Imperial Alexander University (the former name of the University of Helsinki) during the 1910s.

Katriina Palmroth-Ramm-Schmidt
Faculty of Social Sciences

Matti Saarinen is an alumnus

During my time as a student, I was active in the Student Union, and served for three years as its secre-tary general. This is why it’s important to me to maintain contact with the University and the younger generations even now. During the early stages of the Alumni Association, I was a member of its board. At that time, the operations were very small-scale, but fortunately, the association has since grown to a substantial size.I have decades of experience in communications.

I have gotten to know students through alumni evenings organised by KTTO, the association for students of econom-cs at the University of Helsinki. This has been an important recruitment channel for me. Together with my wife, we have travelled around Europe on alumni trips. Nothing can beat sailing up the Danube in a riverboat, while listening to lectures on the Habsburg era by Laura Kolbe. Trips organised for alumni are more refined than regular Finnish package tours, as the fellow travellers comprise a select group, including social scientists, physicians and judges, not heavy drinkers.

Matti Saarinen
Faculty of Social Sciences

Saana Söderlund is an alumna

I joined last spring when I was still finishing my master’s thesis in early childhood education. I graduated in the summer, and in the autumn, I decided to attend some alumni events. I volunteered and managed an alumni control-point during the Freshman Adventure where freshmen had to come up with a superhero-like LinkedIn profile. I also attended an event organised by the Alumni Association about embarking on a career after uni-versity, which focused on professional life, career paths, and career-related tips. I also went to an alumni after-party organised after a Think Corner event themed ‘This wasn’t taught in school.’

Through the Alumni Ambassador service, I have received advice, for example, on looking for jobs.I work in early childhood education, in addition to which I write about events and people for the Karjalaweekly. However, my goal for the future is to work in a position more closely connected to my master’s degree. In the Alumni Association, I want to network and gain tips on what others have done in a similar situation.

Saana Söderlund
Faculty of Educational Sciences

Sari Vapaavuori is an alumna

It took me a long time to find the kind of volunteer work that would allow me to support students on their career paths. I want to encourage and inspire students to explore a wide range of career paths both in Finland and abroad. I hope my own example inspires them to seek the path that is right for them. As a theology graduate, I have worked in a number of fields including brand creation, commu­nications, marketing, corporate so­cial responsibility, volunteer work and ngo management. Through the Alumni Association I was able to join an active and inspirational network. Crucially, I have had the opportunity to do precisely the things that originally made me join the association. I have been able to support and inspire students; as a member of the alumni network, I have made a difference. It’s exciting to engage in a lively dialogue, hear interesting views and learn more about what is happening in the academic and wider communities – in a free and open way.
Sari Vapaavuori
Faculty of theology