Volunteer profile: Jerry Ruiz

"I say, without hesitation, I owe much to UC Santa Cruz and will gladly give my time to help make it a better place for all concerned," says alumni volunteer Jerry Ruiz.

As part of UC Santa Cruz's 50th anniversary recogntion throughout 2015, we continue to proudly feature our alumni volunteers. We begin the year's profiles with Jerry Ruiz, whose decades of volunteer service have not only helped advance UC Santa Cruz, but also provided an excellent example of the public service ethic that is part of the campus's tradition. 

Crown '77, economics

Residence: Los Angeles

Title: Attorney, Alvarado Smith

Why do you volunteer with UC Santa Cruz?

It is a deep emotional connection I feel toward UC Santa Cruz that drives me to volunteer each year. I give my time in support of UC Santa Cruz because the social interactions I had with such a diverse community of thoughtful people and the challenging education I received built a solid foundation upon which I have been able to achieve so many blessings over the course of my life, from the lifelong friends I met there, to preparing me for law school at UC Berkeley, to becoming a practicing attorney for the past 35 years. I say, without hesitation, I owe much to UC Santa Cruz and will gladly give my time to help make it a better place for all concerned.

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

For the past 10 years I have had both the pleasure and honor of serving on the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Council including two years in the leadership role as president. I also have participated many times as an alumni panelist on law and business at the annual Multicultural Career Conference on campus. I was asked to be the alumni speaker at the Rainbow Graduation several years ago. I have made telephone calls to out-of-state freshman admittees to encourage them to enroll at UC Santa Cruz. I have written postcards to alumni and friends to invite them to Alumni Weekend on campus. Locally, I have recruited for UC Santa Cruz at several Los Angeles–area high schools during college day fairs. I also serve now on the Southern California Board of Councilors for the UC Santa Cruz Division of Social Sciences. And, I continue to keep my profile on the Career Advice Network to be available for current and graduating students to contact me with questions about law or business.

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

Volunteering for UC Santa Cruz results in so many rewarding moments, but, for me, the thing I enjoy most is sharing an "aha" moment whenever I meet someone and we realize we're both Slug alums, like we're both immediately transported back and fondly remembering our time on campus. I never get tired answering the question, "So, how did you like Santa Cruz?"

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

Like any volunteer opportunity, take on what you're passionate about, be it mentoring current UC Santa Cruz students, hosting social gatherings with your fellow UC Santa Cruz alumni and friends, representing the campus at high school college day fairs, or advocating on behalf of the University of California in Sacramento or elsewhere. Reach out to the Alumni Relations team at UC Santa Cruz to learn about more opportunities to volunteer.

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

I have so many wonderful memories during my time at UC Santa Cruz, many stemming from the three years I lived on campus, including my last year as a Resident Assistant at Rutherford House in the Lower Quad at Crown College. But, to this day, the most vivid memory I have is my first day arriving on campus in the fall of 1973, being only 17 years old and hearing Neil Young's song "Southern Man" blaring through the open windows of the dorms at Merrill College, thinking, "Wow, this is home."