Volunteer profile: Yen Phan

"I still feel connected with UC Santa Cruz even though I graduated over 10 years ago and moved to an island thousands of miles away," says volunteer Yen Phan.

Oakes '01, art and econ

Residence: Honolulu, HI

Title: Self-employed

Why do you volunteer with UC Santa Cruz?

I was looking for a UC Santa Cruz alumni network in Hawaii, hoping to connect with other Banana Slugs. There wasn't one, so I started the Hawaii Banana Slugs Group on Facebook, hoping to connect alumni and ohana (family) with Hawaii ties. It was over three years ago, March 2011, with the idea to "talk story, network, have potlucks, participate in community events, fundraise, support the school, and continue our ties with UC Santa Cruz and with each other." We've had a few social gatherings and recruiting events thanks to the help of Ebony Lewis, the Associate Director of Admissions.

What types of things do you do as a slug volunteer?

I'm an event planner and organizer, and I love bringing people together for various functions. I send out communications regarding UC Santa Cruz-sponsored events, or pau hana (happy hours) among the alumni. I also help with the booth at recruiting fairs, talking to the potential students and parents about the UC Santa Cruz experience. I also share UC Santa Cruz updates and general information that may be of interest to the Hawaii Banana Slugs Facebook Group.

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

I still feel connected with UC Santa Cruz even though I graduated over 10 years ago and moved to an island thousands of miles away. That whole experience of going to college built me and stayed with me. I also met some really good friends for life there. When I'm talking to potential high school students and parents, I want to share with them the amazing learning and growing experience I had attending college there. I hope that they will choose UC Santa Cruz and have the same or even better experience.

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

It's a great experience. You get to meet new people, catch up with alumni friends, and have a small community that can relate to all things UC Santa Cruz.

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

Gosh, there are so many. The naked running during the first rain of the year (I didn't participate, but just hearing about it makes the school and people unique). The trips to the late-night dining hall to help with pulling all-nighters. The fun socials put on by the Residential Assistants (RA) for the students living in the dorms. My first time eating mochi ice cream during a special themed dining hall event and ate about 20+ mochis, on top of the huge buffet dinner. The best memory of all is making lifelong friends during my time there and with the Hawaii Banana Slugs.