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Alumni Staff Offer a Unique Perspective on Campus

By Shannon Casey I November 28, 2005

If you have an affiliation with UCSD, most likely you're either a student, a graduate, a faculty member or on staff at the university. But there's another segment of individuals within the population of those with an affinity to campus. They can identify with more than one label, but wouldn't know which box to check if asked to fit into a category. We're talking about former students who make their careers at UCSD - alumni staff.

Approximately 1,000 alumni are currently working on campus, with graduation years spanning from 1964 to 2005. They make up a unique group within the university because they share a common, dual UCSD experience. A few have shared their stories with us, as well as their views about how their alumni status makes a difference on the job.

Lourdes C. Felix '78

Lourdes C. Felix '78 is executive assistant to Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences Edward Holmes. After graduating with a B.A. in Latin American literature, she immediately began her career at UCSD, accepting her first full-time position as a clerk typist in the Department of Surgery. Since then, Lourdes has remained at UCSD, steadily moving her way through the ranks over the years.

"My loyalty to UCSD helps me be a great ambassador for the university, not only on campus, as I relate to other employees - but also out in the community, where I represent the university through my association with local organizations," saidFelix. "UCSD awarded me a great education, and as an alumna, I feel empowered by my experiences to speak out about the quality of this organization, not only as an educational institution, but also as a great place to work."

Liora Kian Gutierrez '84

Liora Kian Gutierrez '84 is assistant dean of Student Affairs for Revelle College, a position she's held for 15 years. After graduating from UCSD, she began her professional life at UC Davis working in their Relations with Schools Office and has remained working within the University of California system ever since. Her first job at UCSD was in the School of Medicine's Office of Student Affairs before she moved into a position in Admissions and Outreach. Gutierrez's affiliation with UCSD even extends into her personal life - she's been married to a UCSD alumnus for 27 years.

Gutierrez noted, "I love UCSD and know that it is a great place to grow and develop as a person and as a professional. I also feel that the education I received at UCSD allowed me to do well in graduate school. Alumni staff have a unique perspective since we know first-hand what UCSD can offer current students."

Melanie Horn '94

Melanie Horn '94 is the assistant resident dean for Eleanor Roosevelt College. Her very active Warren College student days - including participation in student leadership roles such as serving on the Warren College Student Council and as a Resident Advisor - sparked Melanie's passion for her work. After receiving a master's degree in higher education from the University of Florida, she went on to work at the University of San Diego and San Diego State before re-joining her UCSD family in 2000.

"As alumni staff, we have a unique perspective to offer in meetings and on the job, and we also have the responsibility to be role models for what a UCSD education offers," explained Horn. "I often find myself talking about classes, clubs and leadership opportunities that I was a part of as a student, and they're surprisingly still around. I also think alumni staff are able to articulate the advantages of the college system."

Kyle Nakanishi '03

Kyle Nakanishi '03 is a fund administrator in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He started his career at UCSD during his third year on campus as a management science student, working with the Department of Anesthesiology. Shortly after graduation, Kyle took a position in the Student Life Office as executive assistant to the Associated Students. He then went on to become a fiscal assistant with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry before finally landing the job he has today.

Nakanishi said, "Alumni staff members are extremely valuable to the university because of their innate knowledge of the campus. This is beneficial because you can easily relate to what the student is going through. With such a large base of alumni working here, it shows some of the graduating seniors, who are unsure of what they may want to do, that the university is a good place to work."

Agustin Orozco '93

Agustin Orozco '93 is assistant director for the campus learning center, OASIS, and also serves as coordinator for Summer Bridge and the Academic Transition Program at the university. His experiences as a student at UCSD are what inspired him to work in an academic setting, and he's been doing so ever since his graduation from Muir College in 1993. Orozco has worked in residence life offices at the University of San Francisco as well as at UC Santa Cruz, and finally came back to UCSD in 1997 to accept his current position.

"I feel alumni staff are important because we have a dual perspective of the university. I remember what it was like to be a student here," said Orozco, "and I'm able to share that experience with students and other staff. I was also A.S. President, so I got to see a lot of things that other students may not have seen. I draw on that experience a lot in the work I do with my students."

Carol Rogers '84

Carol Rogers '84 is the associate director in the Office of Sexual Harassment Prevention and Policy. After her graduation from Warren College with a degree in sociology, she spent a number of years practicing law after graduating from the Georgetown University law school. Carol then came back to campus to work in her current position at UCSD in 2001.

"It's nice to have so many alumni on staff who share an institutional history and a tremendous amount of pride in the university," said Rogers. "Alumni staff also set a great example for current undergraduate and graduate students by serving as reminders that a UCSD education leads to a successful career."

Matthew Xavier '84

Matthew Xavier '84 is the education facility planner for the Department of Campus Planning: Analytical Studies and Space Planning. As a student, his first job at UCSD was resident advisor at Revelle College's Argo Hall, then known as "the Zoo." He also held summer gigs helping out in the La Casa cafeteria and working as a custodian in the dorms. Xavier's 20-year career at UCSD has taken him through several campus departments, from Extension and the Summer Session Offices to the Price Center and Academic Affairs, before settling in Planning in 2004.

Added Xavier, "I believe alumni staff and faculty, as former 'customers' of the university, share a deep and lasting connection to UCSD. As a result, they are well suited to advance the cause of the university including advocating the university's agenda at local and state government levels."


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