“I have been practicing my parade waves, and I bought sequin leggings,” said Ronda Beaman, a Cal Poly business administration lecturer who was selected as Grand Marshal for Cal Poly’s 2014 Open House.
Beaman said she received a beautifully written letter in the mail extending the offer of Grand Marshal to her.
“At first I thought it was a bill from Cal Poly,” Beaman said. “But the Open House Committee said they had selected me because I glitter when I walk into any room.”
This year, Open House is expecting more than 7,000 attendees according to its website, and the theme is “All that glitters is gold.”
Alexis Pereda, co-chair for the Open House Committee and a nutrition senior, said Beaman embodies this year’s theme.
“She is peppy and energetic, and is bursting with everything to do with Cal Poly,” Pereda said.
Beaman explained that as Grand Marshal she will open the parade while riding in a car with her three grandsons — and they all have been practicing their waves. The parade will conclude at Dexter Lawn, where Beaman plans to show off the shiny pants she purchased just minutes after accepting the offer.
“I was just so honored to be invited,” Beaman said.
According to a Cal Poly press release, Beaman is an active member in the San Luis Obispo community and has a long history with Orientation Programs. It was through her work with these programs that Beaman was able to get to know the 22 members of the Open House Committee.
Kristi Kusa, a committee member who was responsible for planning the Open House parade, pitched some Grand Marshal candidates to the committee. They all sat down to try and figure out who to extend the honor to — which was a tough decision, Pereda explained.
“My supervisor (Jason Mockford) suggested her, and everyone agreed unanimously,” Pereda said.
Beaman hopes to attend as many Open House events as she can, meet prospective students and educate them on leadership opportunities at Cal Poly.
“Over 1/3 of freshmen nationwide never finish school; they drop out,” she said. “We really want to pay special attention, so freshmen feel welcome.”
As a teacher at the Leadership Summit on campus, inspiring young people is Beaman’s pride and joy.
“To me, the human spirit is my canvas; to play some small role in igniting someone’s flame, that is the playing field I like to be on,” Beaman said.
Former Orfalea College of Business Dean Dave Christy asked Beaman to help develop the summit approximately three years ago.
“It has just gone bonkers,” Beaman said. “We have to shut the doors, and it is a testimony to how much students know and how much bigger and better they want to be.”
Now, there are early talks with Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong to create a leadership summit that would be open to Cal Poly students of all majors.
The parade will take place on Saturday, April 12.