Volunteer profile: Eion Lys

Alumni volunteer Eion Lys says, "A volunteer can give back to UC Santa Cruz, experience the many social and intellectual rewards of being a Slug, and help to sustain the community life of the area where they live, all while having a good time."

Merrill ’03, history

Residence: San Francisco Bay Area

Title: Contracts manager, iHomefinder, East Bay Area

Why do you volunteer with UC Santa Cruz?

It's meaningful fun. A volunteer can give back to UC Santa Cruz, experience the many social and intellectual rewards of being a Slug, and help to sustain the community life of the area where they live, all while having a good time. Quadruple benefit! What's not to like?

Why types of things do you do as a Slug volunteer?

Whatever is needed. I started by organizing a few happy hours in the Bay Area. To be clear, this was never a solo effort. The Alumni Association and other local volunteers were instrumental in putting things together. As a team, we ran the whole gamut of both planning (choosing venues and times, sending email announcements and follow-up replies) and implementing (setting up event spaces, welcoming guests, networking and mingling, giving out prizes, asking for ideas for future get-togethers, and, of course, keeping things fun).

Later, in Washington, DC, I helped with leadership visits. We were privileged to have a reception for Chancellor Blumenthal at the UCDC Center, and later a welcome event with the then-President of the Alumni Association, Amy Everitt. There were also fun baseball nights at Nationals Stadium and a couple other happy hours. All of these happened through the efforts of great teams of UCSC volunteers and staff.

Last year, I was delighted to be able to host a small tasting event at a Slug-owned hot sauce shop in Berkeley. I also assisted with on-site details and logistics for an Oakland A's tailgate party (which was led by a fantastic Bay Area volunteer), and this fall, I'll be helping with an alumni night at the Oakland Museum.

I've also had small roles in a couple of strategic planning efforts over the years with Merrill College, and with admissions outreach events.

What has been the most rewarding thing about volunteering with your alma mater?

The opportunity to meet so many interesting people. Alumni, students, faculty, staff, partners ... Slugs broadly and inclusively defined ... they're out there and they're marvelous. I've been humbled, many times, by what our global community members are doing. It's constant reinforcement in the belief in what UCSC is all about. (As to what we are all about, I remember Chancellor Blumenthal a few years ago describing UCSC as a unique part of a world-class educational and research institution, which I think captures the idea better than anything else I've heard.)

Words of advice for those thinking of volunteering with UC Santa Cruz?

I recommend it. The opportunities are pretty broad - there is a lot of room for new ideas and innovation for what's possible. The Alumni Association will also provide considerable planning and implementation support. Also, you don't need to develop something from scratch—you can generally volunteer at an event that is already in the works. There's room for everyone if you'd like to help out. To wit, we had a great talent show in Berkeley last summer. I was amazed at the level of performances (although I've been around too many Slugs to really be surprised at these feats anymore). My part? I helped lug sound equipment away afterwards. Talent or not, we can all participate!

What's your best memory from your time at UC Santa Cruz?

All of it! Well, a few things stand out. First, there's a bit of channeling of (UC President) Clark Kerr. In his memoir, "The Gold and the Blue," Kerr recalls experiencing campus at night, in 1965 after meeting with the inaugural class, and feeling "enchanted" by the magical setting. That sensation hit me as a new frosh—I remember this late afternoon orientation event on East Field, and being awe-struck by the view and the people—all of us there to learn and grow, in this wonderful environment.

Second, it's hard to count the number of great class sections, review sessions, discussions, etc., with so many different students on such rich topics.

Finally, there are memories from off-campus—an evening in Monterey, dinner in Paris at the start of a study abroad quarter, and interning at an academic conference in San Francisco. To quote Kerr, "The 'Santa Cruz dream' was drawing us forward. The years pass on but that memory never fades."