The Center for Community Engagement bestowed awards to six individuals who “reached beyond” Cal Poly Pomona to serve the community and mentor students.
At the Reach Beyond Awards ceremony on April 27, President Soraya M. Coley noted that “If you want to feel that your life matters, it comes from investing in other people. … It’s ‘How did I add value? How is someone better off because I touched them today? How is someone better off because I said hello or I gave them advice or I opened a door for them?’
“Clearly, what your work represents is the transformation of lives,” Coley said. “We want to acknowledge and thank you. This really becomes an example of how this community work becomes embedded in the seminal experience of what it means to be a Cal Poly Pomona student.”
The Reach Beyond honorees are:
Suzanne Bryant (’99, human nutrition and food science): Research and development supervisor and internship coordinator at BakeMark USA. An internship at Pillsbury put her on her career path, and she has been paying it forward since 2005 as the internship coordinator at BakeMark. She helps interns with resume building and job searches, and provides connections in the food industry. “It feels good to mentor them and see them grow, but it’s sad to see them go.”
Cynthia “Cindy” Corrales (’10, environmental biology), workforce and volunteer manager for GRID Alternatives. The nonprofit organization brings Cal Poly Pomona, community partners, volunteers and job trainees together to install solar electric systems on low-income family homes. The organization has helped more than 7,000 families. “When I graduated, I wanted to find a way to connect GRID Alternatives to the university because I was proud of all the studying and work I did at Cal Poly Pomona.”
Joyce Emilio (’89, bachelor’s in marketing; ’93, master’s in business administration), professor in international business marketing for 25 years: Emilio has been teaching her “Rock Your Future” service-learning course IBM 299S for nearly half her tenure at Cal Poly Pomona. Her classes have made presentations to more than 15,000 elementary- and middle-school students in surrounding communities to encourage children to prepare for college. “Making generational differences” is the motto she lives by.
Frances Loya, administrative support coordinator in the human nutrition and food science department at the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture: In addition to her duties, Loya helps guide students on how to complete internship applications and compose learning objectives. “This experience has shown me that it doesn’t take much to go the extra mile to help others succeed in reaching their goals. It is a very satisfying feeling to know that you made even a small difference in their lives.”
Matthew Rodney, junior majoring in psychology with a minor in non-violent studies: He has been involved with the Center for Community Engagement since his first week on campus. He initiated the Diversity Collaborative that utilizes established programs to create and promote diversity and inclusion. He also works with Lobby Corps to address food insecurity on campus. “My goal has been to give back to both students on this campus as well as in the community.”
Guadalupe Talavera Reyes (’08, bachelor’s in electrical and computer engineering; ’16, master’s in electrical engineering): An IT associate at Southern California Gas Co., Reyes was part of the cooperative education program at Cal Poly Pomona and worked at the Metropolitan Water District, which led to two job offers by the time she graduated. “The co-op program provided the opportunity to learn areas beyond those that were targeted in class.”
The recipients have all participated in Center for Community Engagement programs, including service learning, Bronco Volunteer, cooperative education and academic internships.
“Community service helps students grow in a very distinctive way,” says Michael Millar, director of the Center for Community Engagement. “When you work with others for a cause, it makes you a better person, improves your skills at achieving goals and teaches you to think deeply about what those goals should be. At a deeper level, it’s about being a better citizen and becoming a leader.”
The Center for Community Engagement seeks to enhance faculty engagement and scholarship; encourage student participating on campus and in the community; strengthen community partnerships support campus partnerships that promote civic engagement; and increase the visibility of center on campus and in surrounding communities. During 2015-16, more than 10,200 students have participated in more than 158,000 hours of community service through the center’s programs.