Alumni to offer services to students

Daily Sundial

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CSUN’s Alumni Association, facilitated through the Alumni Relations office on campus, provides various opportunities for graduates to build career contacts and mentor current students who are looking to move closer to a chosen career path.

“The association funds events and supports itself completely on revenue through partnerships, membership dues and alumni donations,” said Gray Mounger, assistant vice president of Alumni Relations. “As a result, we are able to reward scholarships to help improve the intellectual progress of both former and current students.”

The Alumni Association also provides sponsorships to campus theatre productions as well as to the CSUN-published Scene Magazine, Mounger said. The association has grown since its inception in the 1960s, and Mounger said it now has more than 3,000 members.

“The association consists of 26 chapters, which recognize and connect alumni based on what they studied and/or what organization they had belonged to,” Mounger said. “It allows alumni to reunite with old classmates and connect with new ones.”

Mounger said Alumni Relations is now focusing on servicing the existing chapters, which alone requires an intensive amount of time from staffers.

He said new chapters could be added through a process that consists of several different steps. The most important criteria, however, mandates that those interested in building a new chapter have at least 10 people who are available and interested in coordinating the group, and who can provide leadership and are volunteer-driven.

One of the 26 alumni chapters is La Raza Alumni Association which, according to its website, was established by students in 1992 and became chartered two years ago.

“We are an organization that was started by students to raise scholarship funds for Latino students,” said Paulette Razo-Avila, secretary of La Raza Alumni Association.

The association, which has 35 due-paying members, holds fundraisers and networks with other alumni to attain sponsorship from major companies for scholarships and other events.

“Networking is important for us,” Razo-Avila said. “We are holding a wine and cheese event to help promote our association.”

The Alumni Association’s website, according to Mounger, was the third online database of its kind to be established by a university in the country. The site offers former graduates access to various benefits. Alumni are able to network with each other by posting their resumes or establishing online business cards.

CSUN alumna Sandra Rodriguez has an online business card posted in the Alumni Business Yellow Pages Directory.

Rodriguez, who works from her home in North Hollywood, offers a tutoring service in either French or Spanish for $15 an hour.

“I have only been a member for a couple of months,” she said. “I registered from a business point of view in the hopes that I would get some work to start up my business. So far I haven’t had much success.”

The association also offers a mentoring program in which alumni can volunteer through the website to mentor current students. According to Mounger, the focus of the program is to allow students to work and learn one-on-one from an individual who has “real life experience.”

Alumni Relations also recognizes alumni in various honor showcases.

In the spring, Mounger said the association hosts an elaborate gala at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood. The purpose of the gala is to recognize distinguished alumni who are “at the pinnacle of their profession.”

Gaby Manrique, an assistant for Alumni relations, said dues for the Alumni Association are $40 for a sole membership and $50 for a joint membership each year. Those who graduated in the last year can receive a reduced beginning rate of $20.

Renee Hassija can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.