Bruin Tracks: The Bruin Next Door
By Mark Davis
Published Jul 1, 2008 8:00 AM
Dan Brennan '93 in Santa Barbara needed to find a favorite UCLA Bruin Marching Band track for his young son. Saundra Namimatsu '95 just knew there had to be plenty of UCLA alumni in a booming town like Las Vegas. In San Antonio, Frank Marroquin '00 was searching for fellow fans during the Final Four and ended up talking to the press.
After their days in Westwood, UCLA alumni often find themselves in towns and cities filled with Buckeyes, Badgers and Bearcats, but barely a Bruin. Even considering the 28 UCLA Alumni Association-affiliated chapters and clubs spanning the globe from Pasadena to Singapore, there is still a lot of uncovered territory. So what's a Bruin in a strange land to do? That's what Robert Carusi '62 asked himself when he and his wife, Janet '63, moved to Reno. So he contacted the Alumni Association to explore solutions.
"We couldn't provide personal information on alumni because of privacy laws," says Lily Tsau '81, senior manager, alumni clubs, "but he gave us the impetus to think differently. We developed the idea of designating informal UCLA regional contacts, and he could help build the network."
Last January, the Association listed Carusi's information on the Web and advertised the service in the Connect@UCLA electronic newsletter. Within a few short months, the list of contacts had grown to 24, stretching from Fresno to Thailand, and the individual networks continue to mushroom and expand.
"I can't believe the range of people who've contacted me," says Ryan Wirtz '95, in Dallas. "One person graduated in 1972, some as recent as 2002 grads. That's 30 years of Bruins. One is a TV reporter. I'm a lawyer. There is an engineer, a high school teacher, a consultant."
Wirtz hopes to expand professional opportunities and plan game-watching parties. Kim Mori '89 in nearby Houston is planning a local Dinner for 12 Strangers.
"All we ask is that contacts keep us up-to-date on activity," says Tsau. "In exchange, we send out regular reminders and suggestions for activities. Everyone is so excited; it's really a great way to make the most of the technology available to help the Alumni Association facilitate our alumni engaging with each other all over the world."