Volunteer profile: Steve Schnaidt

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Alumni volunteer Steve Schnaidt says volunteering is "a way to give back to a special institution and a community that gave me opportunities to explore, learn, grow, fail, and succeed."

Stevenson '70 (pioneer class)

Residence: Sacramento

Title: Retired staff director and chief consultant for the Senate Transportation Committee for the California legislature

Why do you volunteer with UC Santa Cruz?

Simply put, it's a way to give back to a special institution and a community that gave me opportunities to explore, learn, grow, fail, and succeed. Like many others, being a UC Santa Cruz student was the first time that I was really responsible for myself and my actions. It was probably the most special time of my life and started the roots of who I became and am still becoming. UC Santa Cruz provided an exceptional environment and opportunity that I want others to experience, and I want the ethos of the campus to spread and permeate the larger culture we live in.

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

I've been fortunate to serve on the Alumni Association Council—Board of Directors—for two stretches, 12 years in all, helping develop and guide the council's activities in awarding scholarships and producing programs and events for alumni. With others, I started and have tried to sustain the Sacramento-area chapter of the association (Sac Slugs); been a UC Santa Cruz delegate and advocate at the capitol on UC Day and at other times; and helped produce local send-off events for first-year students and their anxious parents. I've helped organize alumni gatherings, lectures, and social events and hosted visiting campus officials, participated in the written postcard campaign inviting alums to Alumni Weekend, and in general have talked up UC Santa Cruz to parents and students as a top university and tried to boost its visibility in the Sacramento region.

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

Seeing how all the efforts by so many volunteers have contributed to the development, growth, and success of UC Santa Cruz as one of the top young universities in the world. UC Santa Cruz is far more effective and respected than its age and size would otherwise dictate. I also really enjoy gathering with other Slugs who have a passion for Santa Cruz and who are doing amazing things with the tools and interests they developed there.

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

There's no end or limit to the types of things that a volunteer can do to give back; as a group we have a tremendous amount of talent and creativity waiting to be tapped. Don't be shy about stepping up with your ideas and interests, even if you don't have a lot of time or don't feel that you know the ropes. The veterans will support you and connect you with the local network and resources available for alumni events. Frankly, there's always a receptive audience and place for new energy, ideas, and perspectives. If you want to produce an event or gathering, we'll help you do it!

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

Best memory? It can't be just one; many come to mind. A prominent and enduring moment was the day that I first visited campus while scouting colleges and came across a professor and class holding a seminar on benches in the redwoods. Wow, what is this place? That's when the relationship started. The Spring Thing Tutorial Benefit and Jefferson Airplane concert at the Cocoanut Grove at the end of our freshman year stands out, as does playing intramural sports, as opposed to being a Division I spectator. Other good memories are Fellows Dinners at Stevenson, political and social awakenings, and ultimately action—demonstrations, strikes, and teach-ins. These days it's reunion weekends, scholarship benefit dinners, and just strolling through the campus redwoods after a soaking rain. Go Slugs!