April 2016

Dear Friends of UC Davis,

Picnic Day has long been a fun-filled homecoming for our alumni community. Dozens of reunions sprout like spring wildflowers all over campus, all day long, beginning with the Cal Aggie Alumni Association’s breakfast on Howard Field (Warning: The Aggie Band-uh may barge in, blasting the Aggie Fight Song!).

This is your special day to reconnect with UC Davis – but not your only day. Our welcome mat is out for all of you year round.

One the most valuable and satisfying ways to enrich your UC Davis connection is to become a student mentor.

UC Davis students are not rudderless. They have faculty advisors to help them stay on course for graduation. They have professional counselors available to help them cope with personal struggles and crises. But these are safety nets.

Mentoring is not so much about keeping students from falling through the cracks as it is enlightening them with visions of success.

Mentors can help students find opportunities and successful strategies they did not even know existed. Mentors can bring uplifting, long-term perspectives to students anguished over short-term setbacks.

My experience with students is that they generally want and need people with challenging real-world experiences who will take them under their wing and help them discover and realize their life quests and career goals.

A recent campus-wide conversation about the future of UC Davis reinforced my view. Several of the top trending tweets in the two-day online exchange centered on the notion of merging academic pursuits with “real world” needs. For example:

Alumni are welcomed back to teach…what you really need to know in a particular field.

I hope every student can have not only an undergraduate advisor, but (also) a “life” advisor.

More partnerships with companies to actively place students in quality internships and jobs.

These ideas strike a deeply personal chord for me. If it wasn’t for a “life advisor,” or mentor – a visiting engineering professor from UCLA who took an interest in me as a college student in Greece –  I’m sure I would not be chancellor at UC Davis and probably would not be living in the United States.

Today, when I meet with UC Davis students, I am often asked for advice on how they can succeed in their field. I tell them they need two things above all else: Perseverance and a mentor – or mentors – because mentors can help them imagine and invent their future. They can help them find their opportunities, their responsibilities and themselves.

Your Cal Aggie Alumni Association has a mentor program that will match you with an interested student. There are many ways you can mentor, long- and short-term. You can critique their resumes, provide them a chance to sit through a mock interview, have them shadow you at work, or share your expertise over dinner in a professional setting through the Association’s Aggie Dinner program.

No matter how you mentor, you will be contributing to the post-graduation success of our students – extending your Aggie pride well beyond Picnic Day!

Best regards,

Linda P.B. Katehi

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