Mentor program sees huge growth in just second semester

RAMP mentees Fall 2018

Mentees pose for a group shot at the RAMP kick-off mixer Sept. 19.

By CHRISTINE BEDELL
Alumni Engagement Specialist
cbedell1@csub.edu

It took Kristal Asuncion a long time to choose a career path.

The first time she enrolled in college, she dropped out right away. When she returned at age 25, everything was interesting to her and so she took what turned out to be a lot of unnecessary classes. She knew she wanted to help people, but she didn’t know how.

It ended up taking Asuncion nine years to graduate from college, which she did from CSUB with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2017. Today she’s a consultant helping independent car dealership owners grow their business.

“I wish I had somebody to kind of help direct me, where I’d say, ‘This is what I want to do’ and then (hear), ‘OK, here’s a road map.’ It would have saved me a lot of years of school.”

It’s why for a second time, 34-year-old Asuncion has decided to be a mentor with the CSUB Alumni Association’s Runner Alumni Mentor Program, which kicked off its second cycle this month.

And what a kick-off it was. Eighty-nine mentees and 82 mentors are participating in RAMP this semester, double the number who participated last semester. In all, 135 students applied for the program; those who couldn’t be matched will receive priority for admission next spring.

CRAVING SOME DIRECTION

Nancy Solis-Vargas, chair of the Alumni Association’s Mentor Committee, said she and her committee members were “overwhelmed” watching all the new mentees and mentors walk into the Stockdale Room for the program’s kick-off mixer Sept. 19.

John Rosenow's first class

Mentor Committee Chairwoman Nancy Solis-Vargas and CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny at the kick-off mixer.

“And there was such diversity in the room,” said Solis-Vargas (BS Business Administration ’09, MBA ’12). “Diversity in the age of students, their career aspirations, the schools they belong to. And in the professionals, too. You had folks from law enforcement to business to sales.”

She attributes the large number of students interested in being mentored to a lack of resources to help them move from school to career and to compete in what’s a very competitive job market.

“Our students are going to college, they’re getting an education, but they aren’t getting taught how to transition from here to the real world and get that dream job,” Solis-Vargas said.

A few things are new to RAMP this semester. The program is now open to juniors, seniors and graduate students in all four of CSUB’s academic schools, not just two. Solis-Vargas wants to hold more events and open them up to more alumni, not just RAMP participants.

And the Mentor Committee wants to identify tools and resources that will help mentor-mentee relationships succeed, as well as sponsors willing to help pay for those tools.

CREATING MORE SUCCESS STORIES

Ana Cornejo Kirtan

Left to right: Mentors Alex Lewis and Stevie Lewis, and mentee Bryanna Rodriguez, are all smiles at the RAMP kick-off mixer.

Asuncion had a great experience with her mentee last semester, which is another reason why she decided to mentor again this time.

Her mentee was a senior studying public policy administration who wanted to get into politics but had no experience in it.

Asuncion reached out to a friend who worked for state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, and the friend gave her mentee an internship right away. The mentee worked for Vidak through graduation, Asuncion said.

“It was easy to make the connections between my mentee who was needing a resource and my colleague who was in the same field,” Asuncion said. The result wasn’t just a golden opportunity for a young student, Asuncion said, it gave her a great feeling of fulfillment.

Asuncion’s mentee this time is Kevin Izquierdo, a junior from Bakersfield studying finance. It’s a great match because she helps small businesses grow and that’s the kind of help he’s looking for.

Izquierdo already owns a business where he designs, and has manufactured, workout apparel for sale. He plans to open a personal training business and a gym. Izquierdo ultimately wants to hand off those businesses to other people and open his own financial firm, preferably in Orange County.

Family and friends encouraged him to seek help realizing those dreams, he said.

“They always told me that you can only take yourself so far without someone to help you,” Izquierdo, a 22-year-old graduate of Bakersfield’s Ridgeview High School, said.

Jacquelyn Godoy and Brian Conner

Mentee Jacquelyn Godoy and mentor Brian Conner at the mixer.

Also needing help to go further is Ana Valtierra,  a 23-year-old senior studying chemistry who at the same time is a wife and mother working full-time doing computer work at a local supermarket.

She’s the first in her family to go to college and so often feels like she doesn’t know what she’s doing navigating the complex world of higher education. All she knows is that she’d like to go to graduate school out of state after finishing up at CSUB in December 2019 and that she’d like to go into forensic science, specifically blood analysis.

“I know what I want to do, but I don’t know how to get there,” said Valtierra, who is from Nevada.

Valtierra was matched up with Jason Goklaney, a senior environmental engineer who graduated from CSUB with a chemistry degree in 2010.  She said their brief chat at the kick-off mixer has already helped her.

“He helped me realize that everything I’m doing has a purpose,” Valtierra said. “Sometimes you go to class not sure if what you’re learning is something that you’re really going to apply. Talking to him, I feel everything I’m doing has a purpose.”

PUTTING THEM AHEAD OF THE GAME

RAMP mentors Fall 2018

Eighty-two mentors, most of them CSUB alumni, have signed up to guide current students from school to career this semester.

Cesar Ollague, who oversees the Downtown Jail in Bakersfield as a lieutenant with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, already has plans in mind for his mentee, a history major interested in the prosecution side of law.

He’d like to have her meet with Kern County District Attorney-elect Cynthia Zimmer and other contacts he has in the District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices as well as attend a jury trial in Kern County Superior Court. Ollague also intends to connect her with a Human Resources professional in the Kern County Department of Human Services, where he once interned.

This will be the first time Ollague (BA Criminal Justice ’03) has been part of a mentor program.

"I thought why not give back to the juniors and seniors?” he said. “When I was in that position in 2003, it was like, ‘I’m done,  what am I doing now?’ This puts them ahead of the game.”



GET INVOLVED IN RAMP

Want to be a mentor or mentee, or help sponsor RAMP programs? Here's how:

Apply to be a mentee

Apply to be a mentor

Email us at alumni@csub.edu if you want to help support RAMP.