Tag Archives: Alumni

The Real World: University of San Francisco

Recent graduates share insight on life after USF and preparing for it.

If college is considered to be the best years of our lives, then how exactly are we supposed to classify the years that follow? For many American college students, much of the four years spent at university consists of walking the line between enjoying the ride before entering the real world, while also using these crazy years to prepare us for it. The “work hard, play hard” mentality of college culture is much easier said than done, and translating this way of life to the real world can be challenging.

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Dons Helping Dons, a Mentor Program, Brings Real World Closer


Whether or not the post-grad life has yet to manifest itself into something tangible (and scary), USF students are now able to connect with fellow USFers who are already out there.

Dons Helping Dons (DHD) is a mentorship program that connects USF students with alum who share advice, guidance, and information. The program works through the LinkedIn group of the same name, which is open to past and current USF students.

“The ultimate goal is for students to have someone to talk to about what they want to do, and to hear it from someone who really does it,” said Alex Hochman, assistant director of the Career Services Center. Hochman created and manages the site along with student assistants Khadijah Powell, Diana Guardado, and Veronica Palafox.

As a freshman studying exercise sports science, Powell often found herself surrounded by fellow students who discouraged her from attending medical school after graduating from USF. “They’d say that it was too hard and that it would take too long,” she said. Her mentor suggested she should “just go for it,” which has given her a more positive, motivated outlook on her next three years of college.

“This program has many benefits for students such as developing a support system, networking with professionals, and receiving advice from those who have been in your shoes before,” said Guadardo, a freshman media studies student. “It’s the perfect chance for a student to be ahead of the game!”

Of the approximate 1,060 DHD members, about 820 are alumni and 240 are students — and the numbers are quickly increasing. DHD started in October, but has since gained a large, loyal following of active users posting almost daily. The alumni come from a range of degrees, including business, communications, and nursing, and job experiences vary between managers, directors, and executives. Students can narrow down their search for a mentor by location, type of work, and organization.

Group members are advised to not view the site as a resource for immediate internship or job opportunities, unless specified. Alex Hochman said that students who build a relationship with their mentor may find it appropriate to eventually ask the big question. “If you’re looking for a place to find an internship by tomorrow, this isn’t it,” he said. “But if you’re a senior who’s built a relationship with a mentor, go for it. Just not right off the bat.”

This is how it works: Mentors post their job industry background on the

LinkedIn DHD discussion board. Students interested in learning more can comment on the post and send a personal message to the mentor. From there, students follow up however they choose, whether it be through email, meeting up for coffee, or talking over Skype. There’s no obligation to stay connected with mentors, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. Jobs are nice, right?

For more information on Dons Helping Dons, visit www.usfca.edu/donshelpingdons.

A Blast from the Past; Baseball’s Alumni Weekend Activities

Players of past and present came together at Benedetti Diamond to play our Nation’s past time this weekend September 24th. They played for the sheer fun of re-uniting with old friends and having some small competitive fun, giving them a break to their now mundane adult lives and their daily grind of responsibilities and work.
The annual USF baseball alumni weekend featured 3 games: the “Blast From The Past” game of alumni who graduated in or before 1999, the “Alumni Classic” an old timers game featuring alumni grads pre-1999 and their walkers, and the “Alumni Game” featuring the very recent alumni and pro’s against the current team.
As a side dish to the festivities, there was an alumni social held at Kell’s Irish Pub according to usfdons.com and a barbeque on the terrace behind Hayes-Healy Dormitory that looks over the diamond from the third base line. Food and drink were plentiful as old friends reconnected and young players met the legends.
Alumni weekend is all about giving the chance for USF baseball’s alumni to “comeback, see each other, catch up, share stories, and see what they helped build,” Director of Program Development Matthew Hiserman said.
And Saturday’s game seemed just that. It was a full length game with just what head coach Nino Giarratano was hoping for: some base stealing, some defense, and even some home runs.
But it wasn’t about what the alumni have become on the field according to Hiserman. “Coach G has built a culture of sharing,” he said. “He wants to have current players give back to former players that lead the way.”
The coaches talked and cheered for the alumni as if they had never left: “2 more steps. You’re good right there,” one coach hollered to an alumni runner on second base, like he probably had only 4 years ago.
The house was barely what you’d call full. About thirty or forty close friends and family to the USF baseball program and its athlete’s scattered Benedetti’s bleachers. Free pizza and t-shirts back dropped what really appeared to be a social event even for some parents that have not seen each other since their sons played here at USF. “No, it is not a fundraiser and no money is made,” Hiserman said. “But it has great benefit to both the baseball program and athletic program because it helps create the bonds with our alums.”
The laughing and clowning around on the field portrayed a sense of fraternity that never spoils as the alumni players will always feel important to USF and as a part of the USF baseball tradition. However, there are some thoughts of finances hiding below the wide smiles and jokes. “Of course we hope this will benefit us financially in the long run,” Hiserman said. “But that is not the point.”
Amidst all the chatter around home plate and the hysterical laughter after one alum dropped a fly ball, the peacefulness and friendliness suggest this is more about “connecting” than “fundraising”.

USF Students Found Detour Dance Company

Kat Cole, a recent graduate with a BA in English and a minor in dance and performing arts, and Eric Garcia, a performing arts and social justice senior, have already accomplished something pretty spectacular. Together with their USF dance experience and the guidance of their professors, they have created a dance company named Detour Dance.

Their show “Along the Way” debuted last weekend at CounterPULSE. “It made more sense to make a company,” Cole said. “For publicity, it was easier to have a website where people could see what we were doing.”

They applied for a spot in the performing arts and social justice cabaret season. The cabaret they proposed—Inhabiting Spaces—was only the second dance cabaret ever produced. It now resides as the first piece in their company’s debut show. Their show is three modern dance pieces that began at USF and a dance film that premiered at the show. The film, “Drift,” featured two hitchhikers in a ghost town.

Jocelyn Hall, a senior dance student, watched the show and said, “As a friend of both Eric and Kat, it was great to see them branch past USF and create something on their own. It’s kind of inspiring when you think about it, because they’re the same age as me. Overall, the show was great. I’ve seen the first piece but it was refreshing to see it again. It was just fun to see all of their hard work and their styles come together to create this show.”

“Drift” was the highlight of the show. Hall agrees, “I like the chicken part the best,” referencing a moment when the hitchhikers (Kat and Eric) randomly pass a chicken on the road that decides to join them on their journey. The film is about a journey but through the lens of modern dance. Their pieces represent everyday people and everyday situations; therefore, the pieces featured everyday movement. Movement such as a simple hug at one moment conveyed so much emotion behind the gesture. The pieces came alive in the details like flexed feet and free flowing motion.

Detour Dance has performed at various venues across the city, from USF to Berkeley. “It’s insane how in the past two months doors have been opened for us,” says Garcia. Since last year, The Garage, a dance and theatre venue, and a middle school is interested in having them perform.

As for how they came up with a name, Garcia said, “The name came after everything. We sat down and pulled common themes. We like to look at everyday spaces.” Cole added, “We were looking at roadsides and things people see everyday.” Each piece is unique in that they use everyday objects and incorporate each object in their dance. From thumb wars and dancing on a bench to communicating with feet, their dancing relates to all audience members. “We pride ourselves on our quirky, detailed movement…We pull from pedestrian movements,” said Garcia. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be like a literal moment, it can be little movements.”

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Advice for College Seniors and Juniors As I Graduate.

In October, when I mentioned that I’m starting my job search, my alum friend Jennifer replied, “May the force be with you. I spent 8 months trying to find a job.” At first, I didn’t take her fateful words seriously because I figured that a job search couldn’t be that hard.

Despite having a strong resume and doing all the things listed below (and then some), I am like millions of other job seekers who have encountered painstaking difficulty with landing a job in this recession. In the last several months, I learned a lot of valuable information from all the career experts (my dad was a recruiter), books, and first-hand experience. Since I’m done with college now, I need to share the knowledge in hopes that your job search may be a bit more bearable.

If you aspire to work upon graduation, remember to:

1. Network.
If you don’t know what that means, you better ask somebody. Then build a profile on LinkedIn.com to get you started. About 70% of job seekers find employment through a connection. Also sign up for more organizations in your prospective career field to meet more people. Now is the time to ignore your parents’ advice to “never talk to strangers”, as their network may lead you to shiny new opportunities.

2. If you study most of the time, hit PAUSE and acquire more work experience!
If you can’t find someone to pay you, then volunteer or do an unpaid internship. I gained some my most valuable work experience by stepping up to help publicize projects I was already involved in. Employers want to see proof of results and what you can bring to their company. Unlike college admissions officers, many employers don’t ask about our transcripts, or care about our A’s. Sorry.

3. Start your job search way before you graduate.
I recommend at the beginning of your final semester. It will likely require at least a couple months to research and secure a job. This includes researching companies, exploring potential careers, doing informational interviews, as well as networking. Also, be sure that you do not apply for immediate openings until you’re really close to graduation. I almost snagged two different jobs, but the companies said that my timing was off since I wasn’t out of school yet.

4. Manage your online presence, and periodically google your name.
The sad reality is that employers check Facebook, Myspace, and will run the job candidate’s name through search engines to dig up background info. It is beneficial to create a personal blog or website that relates to your career ambitions, so that they can get a better sense of your personality. With that in mind, if you wouldn’t want your current/future boss to see specific information, remove it or increase your privacy settings. Especially those pictures from that one crazy night you’d want to forget, unless you already have.

5. It’s unlikely that you will land your dream job straight out of college.
Therefore, broaden your career interests. You gotta crawl before you can walk. I just realized this as I read a job posting recently and thought, “I’m not interested in this position…well…let me keep my options open”. Needing to compromise is especially true if you’re in Liberal Arts, while a business school curriculum is obviously more focused on jobs (you lucky ducks).

6. Learn to negotiate salaries, and don’t jump at the first offer that comes to you.
I’ve heard multiple times that people regret not receiving what they’re worth, and find better jobs soon after they chose the first offer.

7. Follow-up, and follow-up again.
Avoid sending out 50 resumes, then chilling and hoping someone calls you. Call them! Email is an over-used form of communication, so always follow-up with a phone call, too. In this competitive market, you need to persistently initiate contact and be assertive in searching for a job.

8. Despite your career accomplishments, remember that we’re in a recession.
Honestly, I thought that my campus involvement, management experience, and supportive network would land me a job pretty quickly. Although it’s great that I receive compliments on my resume, call backs, and I have upcoming second interviews, I’m still seeking a job. SO, if my background seems like yours, please remain prepared for an uphill battle.

9. Be persistent and optimistic.
Amongst the rejection you’ll receive, it’s important to keep on steppin’. In job hunting it’s never been more true that one can’t accomplish anything great unless they’ve tried and tried again. My favorite quote these days is by Vince Lombardi, “it’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.”

10. Check it:
- The most helpful book ever for college job seekers, free online: collegegrad.com/jobsearch.

…and, if all else fails, apply to grad school sooner than you planned.

Each one, teach one. Feel free to pass this along or comment.

- Court
my “professional” website

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Diamond Dons Alumni Return for One More Game

On Sunday at Benedetti Diamond, the Diamond Dons got together with San Francisco baseball alumni to play in the annual alumni game. The ’09 Dons were able to defeat the Alumni 6 – 1 but the score, hits and outs did not seem to matter in this game. Having fun and catching up with old teammates was on the agenda for the Dons.


To kick-off the ceremony, Dons alumnus Dick Bichelli threw out the first pitch. Bichelli played for the Dons from 1952 to 1954. The alumni team graduates from ’08, ’07 and ’06 came back to play one more time. Those players included Joey Railey, Jonnie Knoble, Jon Norfolk, Kyle Morgan, Tavo Hall, Danny “D.Mo” Morales and the White Sox’s number one draft pick of 2007, Aaron Poreda. The 2009 Dons came out ready to play with old faces Derek Poppert, Ryan Lipkin (fresh off his summer with Team USA), Drew Johnson, John Abramson, Stephen Yarrow and many others. There was also a new face in the infield taking Joey Railey’s spot at second: transfer student from the University of Arizona, Robert Able, who was also  wearing Railey’s old number six jersey. 

Junior Derek Poppert commented on playing with his old teammates for probably the last time of his baseball career, “It’s a little bittersweet because I’ve spent so much time with those guys. It’s weird to see them in a different color uniform.” Poppert went 1 – 3 on the day with a double but was thrown out at third by his former teammate Jon Norfolk. “He had the perfect throw to third. It could not have been more perfect, and if it wasn’t I would’ve been safe. I will even tell him that myself! But that’s how it goes,” said Poppert.

Alumnus Joey Railey was the player on the field having the most fun. Railey dropped his glove on the ground and checked his “watch” when fellow teammate Danny Morales had a meeting on the mound, laughed at fellow alumnus Mitch Bialosky when striking out and messed with catcher Ryan Lipkin by tapping him on the face mask with his bat. Railey graduated last year and was one of the leaders for the Dons in 2008. Now that he looks back on his time at USF and his old teammates, Railey realizes just how much he will miss playing in San Francisco. “[The game] was a blast! Being away this summer and being away from all this I was definitely looking forward to this [slumni game] for a while. Just being back with all of these guys and this program you build good relationships with everyone. But you definitely have a little bit more fun when you’re an alumnus,” said Railey. 

This summer Railey was playing with the San Diego Padres for their minor league affiliate, but Railey said he was ready to come back. “We just came out here to have fun with our old teammates and the new freshmen. I miss this so much. I have so many memories here, this is my home now. I am living here and I’m going to be working out with the team this year.Towards the end [of the summer] I just couldn’t wait to get back. USF is something special.” Soon after Railey finished his sentence he was drenched with the Gatorade cooler by his former teammates as a sign of respect—or maybe just to get him wet.

Other alumnus Jonnie Knoble also came to play on Sunday with the same intentions and enthusiasm as Railey. “This group, you can tell, we’re all just really close. It is cool to see the different groups and how we interact. It is definitely a good experience to come back and to see everybody because we can’t see each other during the summer. It’s cool to see how the new players are going to mold and how they are supposed to act and can learn from us,” said Knoble. Like Railey, Knoble also misses his time playing with the Dons, “I miss it a lot. I was able to play independent ball based out of Michigan, so I still get to play, but I miss playing in college. There is no worries, you just get up and play. But when you’re out in the real world, it’s still fun, but the game is a little bit different; it’s more of a job. Coming here to play is a good change and it’s fun and a great experience.”  

The first inning began with the alumni stepping in the batter’s box with their old intro theme songs playing in the background getting them back into the Dons spirit. Aaron Poreda looked strong on the mound and stood with his White Sox jacket on in the dugout between innings.

The scoring didn’t start until the third inning when current Don senior Zach Kim hit in senior George Lujan on a sacrifice fly putting the Dons up 1 – 0. Then junior catcher Ryan Lipkin hit in both Robert Able and junior Bobby Ethel who both reached on walks. At the end of three innings, the Dons were up 3 – 0. 

The alumni could not answer back until the sixth inning after the Dons scored another run in the fifth. Alumnus Stephen Grandelle hit a ground-rule double in the sixth and was hit in by alumnus catcher Jon Norfolk cutting the Dons’ lead to 4 – 1. But the alumni could not catch up after Able hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning to put the Dons up 6 – 1, making that the final score.