Connect with the Alumni Association post-graduation

by Joseph Ciolino, Opinion Editor

Four years ago, the Dalai Lama visited San Diego State. He sat in a chair in the SDSU Alumni Association, now dubbed “The Dalai Lama chair.” Sitting in this chair is said to bring good vibes to students, alumni and visitors alike.

Good vibes and staying connected is of the utmost important to the Alumni Association, and there are many ways for students going out into the world to stay in touch with other Aztecs, the alumni community and also to help bolster university progression.

“Just over the last decade, the university, culture, success and the excellence has risen dramatically,” said Ryan DeLong, interim executive director of the Alumni Association. “That is mainly in part due to those who have helped to give back to make the university that much better.”

One of the best ways to stay connected is to volunteer and there are plenty of opportunities for alumni to do so. There is a calendar list of events for alumni to choose from.

“There’s so much that’s going on at the university that there’s plenty of different opportunities for them to volunteer,” DeLong said.

Along with giving back to current students, alumni can stay connected with other Aztecs that have graduated by getting involved with affinity groups or Aztec alumni chapters. The Bay Area has one of the largest affinity groups and there is also one in Los Angeles, DeLong said.

Grads can also find these groups in the Pacific Northwest and Las Vegas, and the Alumni Association can put people in touch with these groups. These groups are organized and run by alumni volunteers who are living in the particular areas.

“We have volunteers in these regions who kind of become our champions,” DeLong said. “They help run those programs. We’ll provide them data with people in those areas and we will send out a bunch of swag, something showing Aztec pride. We’ll help foster those relationships.”

Local cultural and college-related networks exist, as well. The Business Alumni Network is one of the largest Aztec alumni networks that exists in the San Diego area.

Alumni can also become involved in the Aztec Mentor Program, a program that pairs students with Aztec alumni working in a profession related to a student’s field of study, according to the Alumni Association website.

This semester alone there were 670 matches of mentors and students and 1,250 students were mentored for the entire calendar year, DeLong said. Juniors, seniors and graduate students can enter the program to be mentored. Typically, these are students getting ready to enter the workforce, and 94 percent of mentors are alumni.

“It’s life lessons they’re teaching,” DeLong said. “Just having a little direction – to have someone look over your resume, do a mock interview or introduce you to someone in that career field – it’s a very beneficial program that’s continuing to grow each semester.”

The program has been around for the past three years and there are two events per year, primarily for matching mentors with mentees. In February, all mentors and mentees were matched, and every single student who went through the application process was matched.

“People get a great experience out of it,” DeLong said. “Even from a mentor standpoint, I got a lot out of it.”

For alumni who are veterans, the war memorial groups and Veteran Alumni Organization on campus are chapters that the Alumni Association offer for veterans to stay involved. Each year there is a war memorial ceremony and everyone can attend and listen to speakers. The association’s office, with the help of the Veteran Alumni Organization, organizes this event.

With so many opportunities to keep in touch with the university, alumni always have a community to fall back on.

“We want to keep that two-way relationship going,” DeLong said. “Having that red and black all over San Diego and across the country in different areas and having the support of our alumni increases our overall visibility.”

So before heading out into the world, students should stop on by the Alumni Association and take a second to sit in the Dalai Lama chair and gather some good thoughts before beginning the next life adventure.  

To find out more information about the SDSU Alumni Association, to donate or volunteer, visit