Photo contributed by Ozeme Bonnette

Chapters, clubs & networks: A great way to connect with alumni

By ESRA HASHEM, Student Writer

The Fresno State Alumni Association’s 12 chapters and nine clubs are planning events and networking opportunities for the upcoming academic year after their recent renewals, which took effect July 1.

The purpose of the alumni association’s chapters and clubs is to allow Fresno State alumni to stay connected with their alma mater.

“Really, the focus of these is to provide a way for our alumni — all 200,000 of them we’ve got — to be engaged with Fresno State in a way that they can make a natural connection,” said Matthew Schulz, who oversees the alumni association’s chapters, clubs and networks.

Chapters are academic-based groups, while clubs are based on areas of interest. Four networks — or regionally-based groups — are also maintained by the Fresno State Alumni Association.

The chapters and clubs recently underwent their annual renewal process, voting on officers and other leadership for the upcoming year. Each chapter and club has a minimum of four officers: president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. They also have the option to develop larger boards at their discretion.

“That’s one of the neat aspects of chapters and clubs,” Schulz said. “They are fairly autonomous and can self-organize, developing boards and committees or groups of their alumni as they see fit, in order to accomplish their goals.”

Most chapters and clubs hold two main events a year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Many do tailgates at a Fresno State home football game, auctions, a wine tasting event or a golf tournament. Chapters and clubs may also hold smaller networking or social events throughout the year.

Often times events hold a dual purpose, providing alumni and friends the opportunity to connect with each other, while also raising money for endowed scholarships they have established to support students. In total, chapters and clubs have raised $930,500 as endowed scholarship funds. For the 2015–16 academic year, the Fresno State Alumni Association will award $146,000 in scholarships to students.

David Hoff, president of the Lyles Center of Entrepreneurship Alumni Chapter, said his chapter is already planning its fall events: a “casino night” fundraiser, in which participants will play casino games (without betting real money) for a grand prize and a speaker series.

“We invite friends and supporters of the Lyles Center and its programs to our events,” Hoff said, adding that the chapter’s purpose is “to provide networking opportunities and maintain connections among graduates of the Lyles Center’s various programs.”

Hoff said the chapter has a young and diverse alumni base.

“We’re an emerging chapter,” he said. “The chapter was launched in 2008 … there’s lots of room for growth and opportunities for developing new alumni connections.”

Ozeme J. Bonnette is president of the African American Alumni Club, which is also filling its schedule with events. She said the club is planning a meeting during Homecoming weekend, as well as activities in Los Angeles and/or the Bay Area soon.

She said the purpose of the African American Alumni Club is centered around maintaining connections with former classmates, building friendships with other alumni and supporting current Fresno State students.

Though she admits Homecoming and other events are a great time to reconnect, Bonnette said the most rewarding part of the club is helping current students through mentorship and scholarships.

“We hope to be more involved with students on campus next school year,” Bonnette said. “We are also looking for more people willing to take on a leadership role with our students and with the group.”

“College years were important years in our overall development,” she said. “We were able to learn more about who we were and who we wanted to become. We networked with people who could help us accomplish our goals. Being involved in the club now will enable those relationships to continue to flourish as well as enable us, as alumni, to be mentors for the next generations.”

Bonnette invites interested individuals to contact her directly at ozeme@triquest.biz.

Schulz said he is currently in discussions with different alumni to explore or establish nine new chapters, clubs or networks, including a College of Science and Mathematics chapter, a parent and family club, and an LGBTQ club.

Chapters and clubs are open to all and free to join. For more information on existing chapters and clubs, visit www.fresnostatealumni.com/chapters.

Click below to visit our chapters, clubs and networks on Facebook and LinkedIn!
African American Alumni Club
Beach Cities Alumni Network (Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach)
Bulldog Pride Club
Communicative Disorders & Deaf Studies Alumni Chapter
Criminology Alumni Chapter
Lyles Center for Entrepreneurship Alumni Chapter
Lyles College of Engineering Alumni Chapter
Mass Communication & Journalism Alumni Chapter
San Diego Alumni Network
Social Work Alumni Chapter
Washington D.C. Alumni Network

Interested in establishing a chapter, club or network? Contact Matthew Schulz at mschulz@csufresno.edu.