As a CSUDH graduate himself, Gilbert Hernandez feels right at home in his role as Senior Alumni Relations Specialist. It allows him to get to know lots of his fellow alumni, while also giving back to the student community by helping connect them with Toro graduates as mentors and advisors.
“I know what it’s like being a student,” he says. “So many people gave me advice or support through my academic career, going above and beyond to ensure that I had the help I needed.” He’s happy that a large part of his job consists of assisting in making those connections for the next generation of Toros.
Hernandez oversees the CSUDH Alumni Association. In that role, he does everything from assisting members with their benefits to working with IT to troubleshoot alumni access to Toromail. Hernandez is responsible for training student assistants to provide top-tier customer service to CSUDH alumni, both over the phone and in person. He also maintains the CSUDH Alumni website, the office’s social media accounts, and writes a majority of their communications to alumni.
“With the strategic plan and current graduation initiatives in mind, we aim to help our students get the most out of their college experience, while preparing them for life after graduation as alumni,” says Hernandez. “Once they are alumni, it’s our duty to keep engaging them through events and programs that bring them back to their alma mater.”
Hernandez keeps himself extra-busy by also serving as the campus Unit 9 representative for the CSU Employees Union and sitting on the Executive Board. In addition, he serves on the campus-wide Health and Safety Committee and is a floor warden for Welch Hall.
Meeting his fellow alumni is one of the best parts of his job, says Hernandez. “Many alumni maintain a strong connection to their program or to staff that have helped them get where they are now. This rings true with me, as a lot of people that I work with were here when I was a student. The campus is rich in history if you talk to the right people. I’m not one of them, however!” he laughs.
Hernandez has been working on campus for 16 years, having been recommended for a role in the Human Resources department due to his work as a student assistant in the President’s Office during his undergraduate career. He worked in HR for eight years, volunteering for several commencement ceremonies. “I eventually began covering the alumni table at commencement–not knowing this was foreshadowing my eventual role in Alumni Relations.”
Since moving into the Alumni Relations office, Hernandez’ proudest accomplishment has been establishing the annual Dodgers game event and expanding it to the entire campus community. A huge Dodger fan himself, Hernandez and his team changed the game from an alumni-only event, opening up tickets to students, faculty, staff, and families. As a result, the game is now one of the highlights of the year for many in the Toro community.
“It has become not only a fun and successful event, but one that brings different generations of the campus community together,” says Hernandez.
That community is what makes working at CSUDH so special for Hernandez. “Although we’re a public institution situated in one of the nation’s most populous counties, we are family at DH. People know each other on a first-name basis and give warm greetings when you see them.”
Hernandez is also proud of his work in expanding the annual Homecoming celebration. “Our campus has so many reasons to celebrate its history. Even now, as we are breaking ground to accommodate the growing number of students and support the ideals they uphold, we celebrate the framework that makes our campus great and unique.”
His work in establishing the ToroConnect system is another point of pride. An online platform that connects Toro students with alumni mentors, Hernandez says the system allows students to “connect with CSUDH alumni to pick their brains about taking the right courses for a particular job, what life is like after graduation, or even moving to a new country for work.”
“Being an alumnus of Dominguez Hills myself makes my role a lot easier and more enjoyable,” says Hernandez, “because I’m working toward progressing my alma mater to a higher standard.”