Then: Luke Archer is a 1999 Graduate in IMIE (now the School of Business), with honors. After attempts at earning a degree at several universities, Archer traveled to Israel. Upon returning to the U.S., he began working in construction. He met a CSUMB student (on a Service Learning assignment) at a job site, and became intrigued enough to try college life again.
"I went to three different universities. I had literally quit college because I didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew I needed a business background, so I came to CSUMB because I heard you could develop your own curriculum, your own program. Three weeks into it, I met Dr. [Peter] Hackbert. We worked on several projects over the years." Archer's accomplishments and activities while at CSUMB included:
- Started QuestPlus program
- Involved with a mentor through Service Learning (thanks to Dr. Hackbert)
- Service Learning Project (lasting three years) at L&O Artichokes in Castroville
Luke Archer's internship at L&O proved to be as valuable as the CSUMB education. Archer wrote the company's business plan, formulated the sales & marketing plan, and revised several vital internal documents to help the company grow. "Everything I was doing for work (at L&O) I was doing for school. I got the education because I was ready for it, and because I'd finally bridged the gap between school and the work environment."
Now: A mentorship with Chris McKay, the originator of Top Line Toys, led to the beginning of a business partnership upon Archer's graduation in 1999. The two have been working together ever since.
After three incarnations, they formulated Just Enough, a company based on the Central Coast that has five music-instruction products geared toward teens (sold in high-end retail stores nationwide), and which also has a new product that serves as a pathway for independent musicians to compete with the "big boys". Over the years, the company has employed several CSUMB grads.
Then: Julie Uretsky, a 1995 transfer student from Monterey Peninsula College and mother of three young children, took 14 years to finish an associate's degree, taking one class per semester. Uretsky then decided to go to CSUMB because her family obligations made it too difficult to travel to San Jose State University. After writing a letter in hope of being admitted to CSUMB, she enrolled in the Liberal Studies major. Uretsky later changed to the Collaborative Health & Human Services, or CHHS (then known as CHS) major. After beginning to attend classes full-time in 1998 & 1999, Uretsky received her degree in 1999.
"I remember one of the first classes I had was with Dr. William Franklin," Julie recalls. "It required a lot of studying, research for papers, and I remember it being really hard. But I got an 'A' on the term paper and an 'A' for the class-after that I knew I could take anything out there. No matter how hard it might be. Dr. Franklin was very encouraging, and I remember how motivating all that was."
Now: Julie Uretsky is now an Associate Planner for the City of Pacific Grove, managing the city's low-income housing programs. An employee of the city in various capacities since 1981, Julie's internship during the last semesters of her CSUMB days led to her assume a position directly related to her internship and degree. Soon thereafter, her then-supervisor retired and Uretsky moved up to that position, where she remains today. "There's no way I could have done it without a B.A. degree," she asserts.
"Every instructor . . . they didn't stand up there and just lecture and bore you to death. They facilitated real learning; they turned what they were talking about into real-world stuff."
"The very first class I had was at the elementary school (Stillwell) and there was no heating. You knew it (the inconvenience of no real classrooms) was all temporary. I didn't care where I was; I just wanted an education. Things kept changing early on; requirements for graduation kept changing. They (CSUMB officials) said that you were going to have to be in charge of your education. I had to learn to keep everything and plan really well. It was the best thing for me because I'm a planner now. It was kind of an extra bonus for going to CSUMB."
Two of Uretsky's children are college students today.
Then: Steven Russell, a Visual & Public Arts (VPA) major, graduated from CSUMB in 1999. As a boy, Russell spent two years in the late 1980s living on Fort Ord while his father finished out his military career. "I was here when it was a fully operational military community," he explains. "There were something like 35,000 to 45,000 families. Fort Ord, at one point, housed a population greater than Seaside or Marina. Now things have changed."
While attending Monterey Peninsula College, Russell went to hear Suzanne Lacy, Luis Valdez, and Amalia Mesa-Bains speak to prospective CSUMB students. He was inspired by Mesa-Bains' vision for the Visual & Public Arts program, and he enrolled the following semester.
"I saw a lot of possibilities with the open space on Fort Ord; I'm a visual artist and [the fort's open space] was a real bonus to me. From Amalia Mesa-Bains' coming to talk to me, I saw opportunities to help build my own curriculum at VPA."
Upon arriving on campus, Russell made the most of his opportunities. For example, he:
- Spent one year abroad studying in Florence, Italy (1999)
- Was recruited to be community liaison by RUAP (Reciprocal University for the Arts Program), serving in that capacity for one year
- Went back to teach at the same middle school he attended as a boy
Now: Steven Russell is an Opportunity Instructor at Fitch Middle School in Seaside, helping kids (12- to 14-year-olds) with problems with truancy or grades to focus on five core subjects in one classroom setting: math, sciences, social studies, language, and reading.
"My years at CSUMB were full of rich experiences. Professors took the time to give mentorship and guidance. I created really strong relationships with student colleagues and the professors-it was more peer-to-peer than hierarchical. And the administrators were very involved in creating a solid community. It was great to be part of a strong community that allowed different perspectives. The students were really given ownership of the campus. I think it's good to point out-and for CSUMB to remember-that colleges exist because of students, and not to get away from that."