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Giving Back to the Next Generation

UC Merced Alumni with Rufus the Bobcat

When Celso Lopez volunteered to help at the 2017 commencement ceremony, he didn’t know that he would be the flag bearer. “It was an amazing experience to lead the school through the precession and to see the crowd as we made our way to the stage.” It was just one year earlier that Celso walked that path as a newly minted graduate of UC Merced. Now, he was handing out the same alumni lapel pins that he’s worn proudly since that day.

Celso is an alumnus who donates his time to events geared towards promoting student success. The first time he volunteered he served on a panel for summer bridge, where he answered questions from high school seniors about his college experience. When asked what motivated him to volunteer for the panel he said, “I wanted to do it because I am a believer in learning from mistakes and I think I made my fair share as a student…. I was very glad I could share some of my experience and what I learned about being a UC Merced student.”

Alumni volunteers are an invaluable resource in promoting student success. They’ve walked the same halls and sat through the same classes as students and have successfully navigated their way to graduation and into the professional world.

“UC Merced is a community. We are all in-part responsible for helping the students succeed in their dreams and goals. I strongly believe that if not for all the help and positivity I encountered every day on this campus, I would not have succeeded,” says Lopez.

Alumni volunteers are asked to join career panels, table at events like Bobcat Day, and to mentor and connect with students and share their experiences.

A member of the Alumni Association’s Career and Professional Advancement Committee, Jaqui Minas earned her BS degree in Biological Sciences and MS in QSB from the School of Natural Sciences. Her academic success led to a successful career and inspired her to dedicate hours of her time to opening avenues for student mentorships. “I am grateful to all of the mentors I’ve had, and I owe much of my career success to many people. It takes a village to make a successful person and I’m trying to give back to the same community that was so instrumental in my success”.

In an increasingly hectic and demanding world, “free” time is a precious commodity, and alumni choosing to give freely of their time to the students of their alma matter is a true testament of selflessness, but one in which they also reap great rewards.

“Even though what we work on takes time and effort, it is fun and fulfilling work. Not only am I giving back, but I am learning and growing in the process,” says Minas.

To get involved and learn more about volunteer opportunities with UC Merced and the School of Natural Sciences, please visit: