Inside USD

Spring Alcala Bazaar: ‘Opportunity Central’

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Spring Alcala Bazaar, held in the Hahn University Center’s Forum rooms, delivered again Tuesday as “Opportunity Central” for University of San Diego students to learn more about what’s available. More than 150 tables promoted clubs, organizations, sports, programs and entrepreneurial contests in an effort to remind all Toreros that college life is full of possibilities.

Perhaps you’re from Philadelphia, 3,000-plus miles from home, and you feel lost. No worries. The Out-of-State Student Program, run by USD’s Center for Student Success, is here for you. It supports non-California students in their transition to USD through events to meet and connect with others on campus from their home region.

What began as a trial effort in Fall 2009 has grown to have a student council that represents students from six U.S. regions and a Pacific/International group. Students connect through social orientation and in-semester events such as dinners, holiday parties and a USD Outdoor Adventures Day at the Bay. New Toreros are also welcomed to campus with phone calls from continuing students from their same region to reinforce the connection.

Are you a newcomer who has acclimated to campus and cherish all things USD? Joining the USD Alcala Club could be the perfect fit. This organization brings on eight freshmen and new transfer students — four women, four men — each year to serve as official USD ambassadors at major university events such as Alumni Honors, Founders Gala and last April’s appearance by the Dalai Lama.

“We look for individuals who are very involved on campus and are passionate about USD,” said Fabrizio Ellis ’15, who became an Alcala Club member last year.

Sandrine Urias ’14 said Alcala Club members, through their interactions with alumni and other special guests to campus, consider it as a great resource for networking with other students. Applications are due March 8 and information sessions will take place Feb. 19-21.

The Alcala Bazaar hosted plenty of organizations that complement a student’s college experience and gives them a space on campus to be those who have a common interest. Representatives from the French Club, Chem Club, Folklorico and Mariachi Association, Ethnic Studies Student Organization, Rotaract Club, USD Relay for Life (Colleges Against Cancer), club and recreation sports, Native American Student Organization, Greek Life (pictured, above, members of Gamma Phi Beta), student media (USDtv, The Vista and USD Radio) and the Filipino Ugnayan Student Organization were among the many clubs on hand.

“One of the best aspects, I think, is the community outreach we do,” said Phillip Guichet, a senior biochemistry major and Chem Club president, referring to service-based science programs such as Traveling Scientists, Expanding Your Horizons and more. Guichet, a Chem Club member since his freshman year, said the club is open to all declared chemistry and biochemistry majors, but students from other science disciplines often volunteer with the community projects.

“I really like meeting students in the other majors because it’s a chance for us all to come together. You get to know the faculty really well, too, which are some of my most enriching relationships because they’ll last long after graduation,” he said.

Erika Rodriguez, a junior international business and marketing major, is the 2013 USD Rotaract Club president. She said there are 60 current members, but that more students are always welcome. The club, which is connected to San Diego Rotary Clubs in La Jolla, Del Mar and Coronado, has events tied to community service, including the Feb. 10-16 World Rotaract Week. Part of a global family of service organizations, Rodriguez (pictured, above, right) said she experienced Rotary’s international designation firsthand while on study abroad last fall in Australia. She visited the club in Sydney and found out about another club while in Fiji volunteering at an orphanage.

“Being in Rotaract gives you a chance to connect with so many great people all over the world. Rotarians, wherever you go, are so nice,” she said.

Two USD entrepreneurial events, the $25,000 Venture Vetting (V2) Competition and Center for Peace and Commerce’s $40,000 Social Innovation Challenge (SIC), were promoted at the Alcala Bazaar. V2 enables individual students or a group to earn seed money for their business venture if they reach the finals and successfully pitch it to angel investors. The third annual SIC is open to student and group entrepreneur ideas with a social justice emphasis.

Lastly, one table featured USD students Leo Brown-Young Jr. and Max Masters and their introduction of its Leaders of Tomorrow ISN (International Student Network) program. According to its website, the program is “dedicated to creating an environment where students and business professionals discover their potential and develop the skills necessary to achieve it.”

It is a three-step process for leadership development with programs geared to middle-school and college students and connections to the business community. Masters said there would also be a Leaders of Tomorrow awards banquet in May to recognize business and education leaders in San Diego. Want to learn more? Go to their website and, because it was showcased at the Alcala Bazaar, it’s one more possibility for USD students to consider.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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