More than 50 California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) alumni and their family and friends were brought together July 11 to paddle kayaks in the calm ocean channels around Naples Island in Long Beach, and to enjoy the sun, sand and good conversation.
Hosted by the CSUDH Alumni Association, the alumni began arriving at 11 a.m. and gathered on the sand next to the Toro tent where they were greeted by university staff and student volunteers while they began to socialize and wade in the cool water.
“It was great meeting so many new alumni at the alumni family and friends kayaking event. Having these outreach programs are important because it allows for us to connect with our graduates while getting to know all the great things that they are doing,” said Davie Gamboa, assistant vice president for external relations. “Our alumni are campus ambassadors, and keeping in contact with them through these programs allows for us to not only update them about the university, but it provides us an opportunity to reconnect them with their alma mater, which helps up build that network of support.”
It was fun, and interactive day and our Office of Alumni Relations will be doing more of these social gatherings.
Two of the early arrivers were alumni Deen and Teri Masters. Teri (’92, B.A., labor studies) is a minister at the Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Unlike Teri, Deen has had some kayaking experience.
“I kayaked once. It’s easy to do,” said Deen Masters, a CSUDH rhetoric and composition alumnus who currently works as a drama teacher at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance and as a English teacher at Los Angeles Harbor College. “Here the water is smooth, so it’s great. But I’m a wimp. I haven’t done any whitewater kayaking, like down Niagara Falls, but you don’t need that experience out here. I know this will be fun.”
Also hanging around the Toro tent before the alumni launched their kayaking adventures was Florinda Hawkinson (‘90, B.A., liberal studies) who brought her two daughters and some of their friends.
“I kayaked once before—many years ago in San Francisco Bay. It was fun. Nobody fell in, and that’s why I brought the girls and their friends today,” said Hawkinson, a Rancho Palos Verdes resident and kindergarten teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District where she has worked for 25 years. “My tip to them is to stay calm. I told them there are no sharks in the water because it is ‘Shark Week.’ I didn’t want them to be nervous.”
Click here for more photographs of alumni during this event.
As more alumni arrived, Paul Napora (’04, B.A., studio art) stood in the surf peering across the channel at the large beach-front homes that line much of Naples Island. While recalling his time at CSUDH, he also mentioned that it was his first time kayaking and that he was a “little curious” about the sport, but had “no worries” since he is a “great swimmer.”
“I’m currently a substitute teacher in Palos Verdes Estates at a variety of schools—all K-12. What I remember most about Cal State Dominguez Hills is that it was pretty social. I made a lot of friends,” said Napora, a Lomita resident. “I remember my art professor Gilah Yelin Hirsch. She was an awesome professor. She was easy going and always let us know what her expectations were. I still talk to [adjunct professor] Dave Parsons, who also lives in Lomita and has a studio there.”
All the alumni and their guests received a brief orientation from Kayaks on the Water, the watersports outfitter where they rented their kayaks and paddleboards, regarding the best and safest places to explore.
After the orientation, the alumni were outfitted with lifejackets and paddles, boarded their kayaks and began to push off from shore.
“I’ve never kayaked before, so I expect to be very tired when I’m done,” said Adriana Villa (’12, M.A., psychology), an applied behavioral analysis therapist who lives in Hawthorne and brought several family member with her to the beach. “I now want to be a teacher. I have worked with other teachers who have gone to Cal State Dominguez Hills for their credentials. I’m also going to apply there. I’ve heard it’s a great program so I look forward to getting started.”
AJ Ponce (’13, B.S., accounting), a lifelong Long Beach resident who works as an accountant for a state agency in California, shared what advice she would give her friends as she waited for them to get outfitted.
“I’ve kayaked before and I am very excited to do it again. I would tell my friends to not lean from side-to-side too much if they don’t want to tip over, and to take it slow and just try to stay dry,” she said. “I should know. I fell out before.
“Cal State Dominguez was awesome!” Ponce added. “I was a commuter student and the university offered me a really good education, which enabled me to get a job right after college. I’m very fortunate to have gone there.”