Volunteer profile: Beata Panagopoulos

"I feel the utmost gratitude to have benefited from a superb education at a public institution, and I want to give back however I can," says volunteer Beata Panagopoulos of Boston.

Cowell '75, politics

Residence: Boston

Title: Assistant director, technical services—Sawyer Library at Suffolk University

Why do you volunteer with UC Santa Cruz?

I love volunteering with the Boston regional chapter of the UC Alumni Association (BSLUGS) for a number of reasons. At this point, the BSLUGS is an established group with regulars who attend many of our events. We are practically family. I enjoy collaborating and socializing with these old friends, some of whom were undergrads at UC Santa Cruz when I was there. (There is actually a sizable contingent of alums in the Boston area who are librarians, so I already have a lot in common with them.) Meeting the people who have more recently discovered the BSLUGS is also a highlight of my involvement with the group. The reasons UC Santa Cruz grads find their ways to New England are many and varied. I am inspired by their stories of how UC Santa Cruz transformed their lives and helped them discover their paths in life.

In addition to having fun, I volunteer because I would like UC Santa Cruz alums to have a strong network they can rely on after they graduate. I feel the utmost gratitude to have benefited from a superb education at a public institution, and I want to give back however I can.

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

I work with the other members of the BSLUG board to create opportunities for UC Santa Cruz graduates in the New England area to get together, attend cultural events, hear UC Santa Cruz-affiliated speakers, and support the Smith Renaissance Society.

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

Being a UC Santa Cruz graduate is something I'm very proud of—it is a major part of my identity. Volunteering for UC Santa Cruz keeps that connection alive for me.

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

There are many ways to volunteer depending on where you live and what you enjoy doing. UC Santa Cruz has a wonderful support team for alumni volunteers. If you don't know how to get started forming your own chapter or contributing to one that's already established, contact the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Association. All it takes is some initiative and creativity to get involved.

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

The two best memories I have are bookends of my years at UC Santa Cruz. The very first day I was on campus, I stood in a winding line to get into the Cowell dining hall for dinner. In front of me was a cool woman with a long, thick braid of hair, wearing a wool poncho. I tapped her on the shoulder and introduced myself. We became fast friends during our time at Santa Cruz, including our junior year abroad in Europe. Now, four decades later, I am still close friends with Christine Poggi, a professor of art history at the University of Pennsylvania.

During my last year at UCSC, I took John Schaar's class on American Political Thought. He was an unforgettable teacher, lecturing in a mesmerizing oratorical style. I felt as if I was part of a major reinterpretation of American history that put the concepts of community, democracy, and political participation at its heart. I also remember anti-war protests at the quarry with the activist leaders wearing pink "Eat the Rich" T-shirts, Cowell waltzes, and dancing to the music of Oganooki. And oh, those gorgeous purple and scarlet sunsets over the silver Pacific!

The BSLUG board includes:

Zoe Rath (Stevenson '99, literature)
Erika Tarlin (Oakes '78, art)
Jill Blanchard (Crown '72, English literature)
Paula (Felsher) Tusler (Porter '79, art history)