Coastlines Online, UC Santa Barbara Alumni Association


Fall 2017

Alumni Matters

Coastlines Column: Making the Connections.
By Gwendolyn Wu '18

In less than a year, I’ll be an alumna of the University of California, Santa Barbara. That’s mildly terrifying.

To prepare myself for the perils of adult life, I’m employing a method similar to what I did when I graduated from high school. Then, I voraciously read every UCSB-related blog and watched YouTube videos about my major, dorm life, and the top 10 things not to pack for college.

Now, I’m Googling everything I can find about launching a career in journalism, but something’s missing: the UCSB angle to it. For once, blogs and YouTube videos can’t tell me what UCSB alumni who were like me did after they graduated.

So when I met a UCSB alum working in the industry I plan to pursue post-grad, I was instantly hooked. Here was someone who I saw bits and pieces of myself in -- an alumnus who had majored in something seemingly irrelevant to what he ended up doing and worked to pay the bills while taking classes. The advice he was giving me (be hungry, try everything, put yourself out there) hit home in a way that hearing it from other journalists hadn’t.

It’s standard advice, but what came through to me was the fact that this was someone who had done it. He mentioned spending countless hours playing catch-up on schoolwork and sitting in front of computer screens in familiar campus buildings. There were a few funny stories from his time scouring local media outlets for jobs, which thoroughly entertained a room full of digital journalist-wannabes like me at a Career Services event.

What struck me about the simplicity of that advice and his willingness to come back to his alma mater to chat was how great it was to be listening to someone who had made it. And truthfully, he could’ve made it anywhere else—as a doctor, librarian, or accountant—and I still would’ve wanted to hear what he had to say. This was someone who was a former UCSB student, and who eagerly signed on to tell us what his life was like then and now.

As a senior, I’ve thought about how much I’ve benefited from talking to UCSB alums who are in the industry I work in. I love hearing their stories when they come back-their insight is incredibly helpful in determining what I want to do. I’m sure alumni felt the same way when they were students, so they should keep connecting with current students. It’s not about instantaneously getting a job, although I’m sure many would love one. It’s about being able to visualize where a UCSB degree can take you.

While the line of rapid-fire questioning alumni get might be annoying to some, I offer you this to consider. Students are just looking for insight into who they could become after commencement. When we say we want to pick your brains, that’s genuinely what we want to do. We want to know what you’ve experienced at UCSB that shaped who you are today, and how the lessons you’ve learned then are valuable now.

For bright-eyed and bushy-tailed students, these are guidelines to how to make our lives the way we want them to be in 20 or 30 years. No, we don’t want to be carbon copies. The stories we hear, though, help us figure out where we can go with our lives and what’s possible on the horizon. Seeing people willingly come back and tell us about themselves encourages us as we strive toward walking across that stage at commencement.

We are told time and time again that a UCSB degree can take you anywhere. We want our alumni to come back and prove to us that it has.

Alumni, here are easy ways to connect with students:

UCSB Alumni Give a Warm Welcome to Incoming Gauchos

Professional basketball player, Orlando Johnson '12, UCSB's all-time leading scorer, welcomed
incoming students at UCSB Alumni's annual Welcome Reception in Oakland.

Hundreds of incoming students, their families and UCSB alumni turned out for UCSB Alumni’s annual Welcome Receptions for new students. Held throughout the state, the Welcome Receptions were hosted by alumni and gave students an opportunity to ask questions and gain valuable insight from alumni about making the most of their campus experience.

Greek Interconnect Event

The first ever UCSB Greek Interconnect event will open the door for Greek students and alumni to discuss how to find and make the most of career opportunities. The free event will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 11, 2017, at Mosher Alumni House.

Chaired by Dana Skeels ‘13, former president of Alpha Chi Omega, the Greek Interconnect event will address the power of networking, the possibilities the UCSB Greek community can create, and enabling alumni to mentor students as they begin their professional journey.

For more information, contact Karen Ravago-Ballaret at, or register at

UC Santa Barbara Alumni
Alumni Impact Survey

The results are in.
Earlier this year we conducted a survey in an effort to better understand and engage our alumni. We reached out to nearly 65,000 alumni, asking for their opinions and feedback to help us improve our alumni outreach efforts. We teamed up with the Performance Enhancement Group (PEG) to conduct a thorough survey. PEG has a strong track record of success with over 750,000 surveys completed by alumni at 260 universities and colleges in the past 16 years.

The results will play a critical role in the creation of UC Santa Barbara Alumni’s Strategic Plan: Vision 2020: Your Story Continues Here. While analysis continues on this comprehensive survey, we would like to share the initial findings.

Mosher Alumni House 10th Anniversary

Special events hosted at the Mosher Alumni House. Clockwise, from top left: Letendre Art Wall, Mosher Alumni House, UCSB First Recognition Dinner, Walk With Us, Greek Farewell Brunch.

Mosher Alumni House is turning 10! Hard to believe that it has been a decade since the doors to our striking building at the formal entrance to campus first opened thanks to the generosity of alumni, donors and supporters.