During Friday’s kickoff for the 10th annual Grandparents Weekend at the University of San Diego, the Office of Parent Relations, will welcome them to campus. At the same time, a group of parents, some with their USD student children alongside, will represent the USD Parent Corps of volunteers in nearby Barrio Logan. There, they’ll spend their day painting, landscaping and revitalizing a resident’s home for a community service outreach program connected to Rebuilding Together San Diego.
On Saturday, the USD Parents Association Board members will host a brunch in which the highlight is meeting and recognizing USD student recipients of a USD Changemaker Scholarship, thanks to a $75,000 USD Parent Fund gift to USD’s Changemaker Hub. Students who’ve received critical financial assistance through the Parent Partnership Fund this year will also attend.
These events and these caring actions by dedicated parents of current and recent USD students, demonstrate why Parent Relations Director Renda Quinn ‘86 enjoys working with them year-round.
“They believe in USD so much. They are so passionate. It’s inspiring to see how dedicated they are to the work that they do,” she said. “They are truly here for the common good. They’re not here to monitor their children, they’re here to help make the university better.”
Current Parent Association Board Co-Presidents, Jim and Bonnie Trumbull, have flown in this weekend from Oregon to be present for this weekend’s events. Their son, Jimmy, graduated last year, but it hasn’t slowed their USD commitment.
Sonny Thadani, USD Parent Corps chairperson and father of USD junior Shanelle Thadani, says his involvement with the university lets him strengthen community partnerships for USD and create opportunities for USD to give back, all while spending quality time with his daughter as they work together.
“I’m honored to send my daughter to USD for her education. In the spirit of giving back to USD, I asked what I could do to help,” said Thadani (pictured, right). “I lead our outreach efforts in the community. I think it is very important for all of us to take time out of our busy lives and help those who might not be as fortunate. It’s a humbling experience. I think this sends a strong message to your son or daughter that you’re not just sending them to school, but you want to see them progress. This enables you to be part of that progress.”
Mary Levine, the chair for the Parent Board’s public relations efforts, has three children who are undergraduate alumni — Michael ‘12 was a placekicker for the football team; and twin daughters Aimee and Madison graduated in 2013 — and two of them, Michael and Madison, are currently attending USD’s law school.
“I love being on Parent Board because it makes you feel connected to the university,” said Levine, who has been a board member for nearly five years. “It was a great way to stay involved after being so involved when my children were in high school. I love speaking with the professors to get their insight about USD, what makes it special and to show other parents the amazing caliber of faculty USD has.”
Levine started a Facebook USD Parents Fan Page and updates it as needed. She writes an article for Parent Relations’ monthly e-newsletter on a faculty member or a “Parent Perspective” article. She also reaches out to new parents for their feedback.
Nadine Terheggen, parent of Taylor, a junior student, said being chair for the board’s philanthropy committee, is a great way to be involved in such projects as the scholarship-awarding programs and community service projects that “teach our children, even at the college level, the importance of giving back.”
Past Board President Bob Barry (pictured left, with Renda Quinn) created a successful program called Knowledge Transfer, which gives students the chance to hear and get advice from a panel consisting of USD parents and alumni in a particular field. Experts from sustainability, entertainment/media, marketing and engineering businesses have been past participants. Students network with the panelists before and after the event, which happens once each semester.
Parent Relations and the board work closely with multiple on-campus partners. Committees for the Parent Corps, Parent Career Network, Philanthropy and outreach/public relations are connected to the USD Changemaker Hub, USD Career Services, Office of Annual Giving and Parent Relations, respectively.
Sips for Scholarships, which takes place March 21-23 in Sonoma, Calif., this year lets female attendees enjoy wine tasting, culinary experiences and more. There’s also a special March 22 soiree and silent auction.
Parent Relations Assistant Director Karina Viaud ‘02 oversees a group of parent ambassadors who provide key support for other parents. Viaud, Quinn and executive assistant Regina Griffing ’12 organize USD’s informative and fun Summer Send-Offs. This is an event in which parents and alumni nationwide host new parents and incoming students in their local area to answer questions about USD and network.
Roy and Rehanna Mohammad, parents of USD student Shayna Mohammad and 2014-15 Parent Association Board co-presidents, are grateful for their participation. “Being part of the board has allowed us to cultivate a sincere bond and sense of belonging to the university. Having this sense of connectivity and respect for the university has allowed us to be genuinely encouraging, supportive and reassuring to families attending Summer Send-Offs,” Rehanna said. “It was lovely to wholeheartedly reassure the intimate group attending the Oahu (Hawai’i) send-off that the anticipated experience to be embarked upon at USD was to be unquestionably a positive one.”
The connection between parents and the university is a strong one and volunteering is encouraged for all new USD parents when their son or daughter arrives.
“Get involved,” Rehanna said. “It allows you to develop a connection and sense of belonging to the university and presents opportunities to build new friendships and relationships with other parents and staff members. Volunteering at the university affords you the occasion to share university experiences with your child and continue to create lifelong memories together.”
— Ryan T. Blystone