My CSU journey starts more than 25 years ago when I decided to attend CSU San Bernardino—I was a mid-career, returning adult student. After working a long, full day at the County of San Bernardino, I would go to school at night. It was tiring but I knew how important it was for me to get a higher education, and my experience as a student was absolutely invaluable. Everything from the insight each of my professors brought to the classroom to the network I built among my classmates helped me build the skills and talent I needed to advance my career.

Subsequent to my studies at CSUSB, I was accepted into the Capital Fellows Program at Sacramento State. There, I worked in the legislature for nearly a year and followed in the footsteps of some of our nation’s greatest government and community leaders. The Fellows program led to my next twenty years in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. Yes, that’s right. My degree and experience as a CSU student was directly responsible for giving me the opportunity to work in the highest level of public service for 20 years.

Now that I’m retired, I can commit even more time—and encourage other alums to do the same—so future CSU students can be afforded the same opportunities I had. I’ve been a long-time member of the CSUSB Alumni Association and have served as an alumni volunteer for the CSU Alumni Council, but in July, I was inaugurated as president of the Council. It’s been a whirlwind so far, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve already met with the California State Student Association and the Academic Senate of the CSU, visited our offices in Washington and Sacramento, and helped share impactful alumni stories with the Board of Trustees.

Through all the activities, I’ve noticed one common thread: the warmth and welcome I have received has been overwhelming. At the events I have attended, everyone from CSU partners and administrators to faculty and students have thanked me for my service as an alumni volunteer. When I hear those two words, “thank you,” it is even more of an affirmation that contributing my time and service to the CSU is the right thing to do.

We recently completed our Class of 3 Million campaign, and the positive vibes from the campaign is still buzzing through the CSU Alumni Council. To keep the buzz going on our campuses and with our alumni, we plan to focus on three things: legacy, advocacy and service.

One: We have a host of families who have invested in the CSU system … dads, moms, brothers, sisters, couples who have met at the CSU and encouraged their children to attend a CSU campus. There are so many legacies out there we don’t see! Our plan is to help bring these stories to the forefront to build more legacies.

Two: Increasing the visibility of alumni in advocacy is crucial. We are encouraging alumni to speak to decision makers and go before legislators to tell their stories about how the CSU has impacted their lives and careers.

Three: We have three million alumni and, if even a small percentage of those gave one hour, one day, once a year back to their campus, we would have thousands and thousands of volunteer service hours. Ideally, we could track contributed service and further recognize our special volunteers.

What alumni may not realize is that writing one letter to an elected official, attending one alumni event, or sharing their story in their community makes all the difference and can help touch the lives of thousands of current and future CSU students.