With more than 1,200 paid and highly active members, the Orange County Cal Alumni Club is one of largest of the University’s alumni chapters. President Merrick Minh Nguyen characterizes the club’s mission as philanthropy, involvement with both community and alma mater—and a reasonable amount of fun, of course.
Most recently, club members participated in scholarship fundraising and food collection efforts for Families Forward, an organization dedicated to helping low-income Orange County families.
“Cal isn’t just one of the finest universities in the nation,” said Nguyen. “It’s also a public school, and that really shapes the perspectives of its alumni. I think it instills a sense of civic responsibility. It’s the opposite of elitism, of that sense of being somehow apart from the larger society. We’re very proud of that.”
Nguyen added that Cal alumni have to be just a little harder in Southern California than their peers in the north because it’s—well, Southern California. “You have USC and UCLA down here, so of course we have to work to keep that Cal spirit going,” he said. “Whenever I talk to anyone from those schools, I can’t help but point out that there’s a simple reason Cal is called Cal. We were the first.”