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Central California Life Magazine

Local Spotlight: Fresno State Alumni Association Goes Above and Beyond for Their Fellow Alumni

May 26, 2016 02:20PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

The FSAA Board of Directors

What exactly does an Alumni Association do? That is the ultimate question most have about their prospective Alumni Associations, or similar affiliations. 

The responsibilities vary from organization to organization, but the 
Fresno State Alumni Association (FSAA) has taken it upon themselves to go above and beyond for their fellow Alumni, and their efforts have not only been beneficial for Fresno State Alumni, but for current students as well. 

We were lucky enough to get in touch with the 
Director of Engagement, Matthew Schulz, and the Events Coordinator, Katie Adamo, to hear about the exciting things that are currently in motion. 

A Little History

The FSAA's main mission "is dedicated to uniting and advancing the interests and traditions of alumni and friends of California State University, Fresno, and providing scholarship opportunities that attract and support highly motivated students to the University."

The FSAA has roots to the first Fresno Normal School graduating class of 1912 and was incorporated in 1940. To date more than 230,000 graduates and thousands of others who have had a Fresno State educational experience, have migrated to every state in the nation and many are located throughout the world. The university maintains database records of more than 230,000 alumni, past students and friends of the university.

Right now, the FSAA is one of the few non-dues-based organizations. As of 3 years ago, they made the executive decision to eliminate dues in order to include ALL alumni, as opposed to a small percentage that would be willing to pay. What this means is that any and all Fresno State Alumni are automatically included in the FSAA after graduation. This opens the doors for more opportunity, and more accessibility, for the Association. 

There are several chapters and clubs of the FSAA. These chapters and clubs are much more structured and all volunteer-based. These clubs organize the local events for alumni. 

Over the past 15 years or so, the Association has been slowly expanding into a more regional focus. After realizing a good amount of their alumni live in other cities, such as Sacramento and Los Angeles, the regional focus has become more primary. This means more accessibility to alumni outside of Fresno, as well as more opportunity and growth for both the school and alumni.

Core Values

The Fresno State Alumni Association is students, alumni and graduates’ official “Bulldog Connection. For Life. “

The Board of Directors’ has embraced three value points for the organization:

• Engagement: To be the recognized leadership organization that engages our students, alumni and friends to connect to Fresno State through meaningful alumni activities, volunteerism and advocacy.

• Scholarship: To be a visible leader in growing our scholarship endowment that helps to attract the “best and brightest students” to Fresno State.

• Recognition: To regularly showcase and recognize Fresno State alumni who have achieved success in their chosen field and/or have made significant community contributions.

University Commencement Ceremony 2016. Photo courtesy of the Fresno State Website.

These core values carry into all aspects of the Association. Each year, they hold a Top Dog Alumni Awards Gala at the Savemart Center, whereby alumni are honored for accomplishments in their fields and commitment to service in the community. 

During this event, they also will recognize the Fresno State Alumni Association's student scholarship recipients. The Fresno State Alumni Association is one of the leaders of the 23 alumni Associations of the CSU system in annual student scholarship giving. Just this past school year, the Association awarded more than $146,000 in student scholarships for the 2015-2016 academic year. 

The process by which the Association uses to select the awarded students is lengthy and thorough. There was recently a new newsletter created to include videos of the scholarship candidates and their story. This newsletter goes out to about 2,500 faculty members and all Fresno State Alumni. The new newsletter platform has been incredibly successful for sharing student and alumni stories. 

Be sure to view the videos below that highlight both the 2015 Top Dog Gala Distinguished Alumna Armen (Derian) Bacon and an example of one of the videos submitted to the scholarship program.

For the full Top Dog Gala video playlist, click here. To view the full playlist of the video scholarship submissions, click here.

New Initiatives

"Purpose. Engagement. Connection."

There is a new initiative put on by the Association a mere 6 months ago called the 
Fresno State Career Connections (FSCC). This new initiative was designed to for successful alumni to reach out to their alma mater and find current students looking for jobs or advice after graduation. It is a powerful online tool that allows alumni, parents and friends of Fresno State (referred to as advisors) to connect one-on-one with students for career conversations, resume critiques, and mock interviews. 

Advisors select the types of consultations they are willing to provide and all consultations are held over the phone. FSCC is paid for by the Association, offered free of charge to current students and first year graduates of Fresno State. 

Currently, there are already about 300 alumni and 80 students signed up. This program is a great way for alumni to connect with students, and vice versa, and is ultimately a game-changer by means of job support and connections for graduates, something that the majority of college graduates are struggling to find. 

So far, after a mere half-year launch, the FSCC has been incredibly successful, and is only growing! 

Fun Facts

FSAA staff member with
Victor E. Bulldog III.

The Fresno State mascot, the Bulldog, is actually looked after by members of the Alumni Association. His name is Victor E. Bulldog III., and he is a prominent figure within the community. Victor E. will actually be touring Sacramento June 1st to host an event highlighting the FSAA. He is a very busy Bulldog!

Overall, the FSAA has a goal of bringing more opportunity to current students and Alumni alike. Despite all the funds coming in, there is always room for more financial support. The Association hopes that students eventually view the school as a treasure, and something to contribute to even after graduating. This includes both monetary donation, as well as time. There is always room for more volunteers. 

This cycle of giving is something that they hope to emphasize from the first day at the Student Convocation, all the way through to graduation day. In return, the Association is doing all they can to give back and contribute to the betterment of the community. 

To learn more information about the Fresno State Alumni Association, be sure to visit their website and check out all of the amazing things that they have in the works. 

If you are interested in learning more about their volunteer programs, be sure to visit their website or contact Katie Adamo. If interested in making a donation, learn more here

2015 Distinguished Alumna - Armen (Derian) Bacon

Scholarship Video Submission - "When a picnic table was your bedroom"