Their time on campus was separated by decades, but a common thread runs through Gary Inouye (’79, soil science) and Alexandria Turner (’16, hospitality management).
They are Cal Poly Pomona alumni who are committed to student success. Inouye has been a university donor for nearly two decades, while Turner is making her first entry into philanthropy.
Inouye retired in 2013 after a 26-year career at aerospace giant Raytheon, working on projects that ranged from lasers to satellites, but his initial career trajectory was more down to earth. After graduating, he went to work for the U.S. Forest Service in the rural expanse of John Day, Oregon, for four years.
“Soil science requires a lot of chemistry. In the Forest Service, it was very useful. I used that same chemistry background while I was working in aerospace,” Inouye says. “I worked in the labs at Raytheon and I was able to apply the skills I learned at Cal Poly Pomona to my work.”
When Inouye attended Cal Poly Pomona, the main expense was state fees, which he says were about $50 per quarter. Today, students pay about $2,400 per quarter. As a College of Agriculture supporter for the last 18 years, Inouye knows that gifts to the university can help ease the financial burden that students face.
“It’s important for me to have this connection to Cal Poly Pomona. What this is really all about is helping other people,” Inouye says. “It makes a big difference if I make a contribution. It’s paying back and it’s also investing in the future.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Turner is a member of the new generation of donors.
She works in Disneyland’s Southern California tourist sales department, which caters to families visiting the theme park. Turner is still establishing her career but says that philanthropy is not limited by age or salary.
“Having well-educated people helps our society. Even though recent grads don’t have much money right now, it’s good to give back,” Turner says. “That sum can grow into something larger.”
Turner, who co-chaired the 2016 Senior Class Gift Committee, says that she learned about giving back after a crisis at home.
“We had a situation in my family that involved health issues. After that, we wanted to give back in any way we could. We know what other people go through,” Turner says. “It’s always in my mind to either give back monetarily or through acts of service.”
That set her on a philanthropic path.
“Cal Poly Pomona is a special place,” she says. “I gave not because I wanted to see the gift grow. I gave because it needed to be done.”
Gary Fong is a senior communications specialist in the Office of Public Affairs.