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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 30 · Number 2 · Winter 2013

Alumni: Giving Back

Photo: Smiling school counselor listens to young student address assembly

Danielle Duarte ’04 helps students conduct a flag assembly at Alvin Dunn Elementary School in San Marcos. As a counselor at the school, she led third-graders in an Aggie Classrooms program.

Time, talent help Aggies past, present and future.

Some people give money to their alma mater. Danielle Duarte ’04, gives something just as valuable: her time.

Duarte is one of the many UC Davis graduates who share their time and talents with past, present and future Aggies. The hours she logs to help the Cal Aggie Alumni Association is her way of thanking UC Davis for “such an amazing experience. … I value my education so much.”

Rich Engel, executive director of CAAA, said alumni volunteers are the core of the nonprofit organization. More than 650 volunteers help with events, fundraising, recruitment, mentoring, outreach and reviewing scholarships: “We treasure those who share their time and expertise with CAAA. Their experience is such a gift to our students, and the university as a whole.”

Besides providing a great way — even in this economy — to give back to UC Davis, Duarte and other active CAAA members say that their volunteer activities give them many benefits in return, both social and professional.

As an elementary school counselor living in Carlsbad, Duarte says she enjoys maintaining ties to UC Davis.

Her participation in CAAA events began less than a year after she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She had moved to Santa Barbara and “I wanted to meet people with similar interests,” she said.

She helped coordinate a Santa Barbara Aggie Welcome, an event in late summer where new students and their parents meet UC Davis graduates and ask questions before classes start.

While earning her master’s degree in counseling at San Diego State University, Duarte became an Alumni Ambassador, doing outreach for UC Davis at college fairs, and coordinating volunteers for the San Diego County Scholarship Committee. “If I can help with scholarships or help with college fairs and share my experience, it is really rewarding.”

Since becoming a school counselor, she has brought the Aggie Classrooms program to her district. The student-run UC Davis program encourages children in low-income elementary schools to start thinking about college.

She encourages others to get involved in a CAAA activity. “My passion is events, scholarships and college fairs. … Networking is a big thing for others. The benefit of going to an amazing school is being a part of that network.”

Paul Terry ’01

Portrait photo

Paul Terry

Paul Terry says his experiences leading CAAA chapters have paid off both socially and professionally.

“It’s really a personal investment. I’m getting leadership skills,” said Terry, who heads CAAA’s Sacramento Chapter and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Alumni Association, and is the former San Diego chapter leader.

The music and biology alumnus and former Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh drummer got involved with CAAA in 2006. After earning a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco, he now works as an event planner and website designer at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

Alumni networks help him foster friendships with other UC Davis graduates and increase his professional connections, he said. He uses his skills as an event manager to plan chapter trips and social gatherings, like a wine tour, group outing to a Sacramento Kings game, or a happy hour get-together at a local restaurant.

He encouraged prospective alumni volunteers to “find something you enjoy.”

“It doesn’t take very much to read interview letters and interview students who are going to be greatly impacted by a scholarship,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to reassure parents at new student orientations. It’s relatively nothing, but the impact it has on so many people ... is just incredible.”

Joe Ferreira ’08

Portrait photo

Joe Ferreira

Joe Ferreira, a leader for the New York Network and the LGBT Alumni Association, said his connection with another Aggie helped him get his job as a product development manager for publisher Samuel French.

The alumni networks are one of the business benefits of a UC Davis degree, Ferreira said. “If you don’t keep that community going, you are giving away a piece of that value. … Your network is really part of the college experience and it never really goes away.”

Ferreira, who studied dramatic arts and communication at UC Davis, also loves the social connections he’s made with other Aggies, especially those on the East Coast. “What I found now is that even away from the school, years after graduating, they are always very friendly and easy to talk to, and it’s all because we had this shared experience that was so positive.”

Besides organizing events in his region, like a New Grad Welcome in September, he helps recruit future students. He organizes events in the New York area, sharing his Aggie story — one that he said is well-received.

“I’m very proud of [UC] Davis, because I had a wonderful time there,” said Ferreira, who returns to Northern California regularly to visit family. “The education was really great. There’s a big source of pride in being someone who feels I am giving back to the university.”

Sue Jones, M.A. ’98

Lend a hand

UC Davis alumni have a long tradition of giving back to campus. Here are some of the ways to become involved:

  • Mentor a Student Alumni Association member by participating in Aggie Diner, Interview with an Aggie, or Take an Aggie to Work.
  • Spread the word to prospective students at high schools and community colleges as an Alumni Ambassador.
  • Contact elected officials to rally a cause as an AggieAdvocate.
  • Screen scholarship applications and interview prospective recipients from your area.
  • Help at events like Picnic Day, Homecoming or Aggie Welcomes.
  • Join a CAAA committee and share your expertise in areas like marketing, legislative advocacy, finance, or business development.
  • Assist with a community service activity like a chapter’s beach cleanup.
  • Join or start a local chapter.
  • Join the board of directors.

For details, visit the Cal Aggie Alumni Association website or email

Portrait photo

Sue Jones

Sue Jones keeps involved through student mentoring and advocacy programs.

A former CAAA staff member who now works as an editor for the School of Law, Jones helps lead the Davis Network and serves on a Scholarship Committee, screening high school applicants from Yolo County.

She is also an AggieAdvocate, taking part in the UC Day legislative conference, where alumni from all 10 UC campuses meet elected officials.

Jones enjoys Aggie Diner, a dinner connecting students and alumni in a professional setting, and the more personal Take an Aggie to Lunch. “I try to get involved with the mentoring things with the students. It’s fun to talk to them. I feel like I have a responsibility to give back.”

The mother of a 9-year-old boy, she also volunteers for the Woodland Schools Foundation in her hometown. Before getting her master’s degree in creative writing at UC Davis, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.

She encourages other Aggies to get involved. “They are going to get to meet a lot of interesting people, work on skills maybe they didn’t know they had, and find out a lot more about the campus.”

And the commitment isn’t overwhelming. For the Scholarship Committee, the bulk of it is one long evening meeting, she said. “You feel a lot better about our future when you see these high school students.”

Steph Bradley ’11

Portrait photo

Steph Bradley

Steph Bradley, who earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology, is now attending HULT International Business School in San Francisco, but still finds time to volunteer with CAAA’s San Francisco Network.

She was Student Alumni Association president her senior year at UC Davis. “While I was a student, I saw how helpful it was when alumni volunteers do anything,” Bradley said. “I saw what worked well. As a student, I felt like I really benefited as a volunteer, so I wanted to make sure I volunteered once I graduated.

“I keep doing it because it’s fun; I like to meet all of the new people. It’s also a good place to practice some skills — since I am a recent grad — that I will use later in my career. It’s an easy environment — not a very threatening environment — to try new things.”


Wendy Weitzel is CAAA’s communications officer.