Graduates can stay connected to Cal Poly through the Alumni Association and can give back to the university through Cal Poly Proud. | Courtesy photo

Lindsy Mobley

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Graduating seniors might be unaware of the benefits of staying connected to Cal Poly after graduation.

“What’s great about Cal Poly’s Alumni Association today is everyone is automatically a member,” said Ellen Cohune, assistant vice president of alumni outreach and annual giving. “So there’s no real paid association dues. We have a universal model so once you’re an alumnus, you are a member of the alumni association.”

Cohune oversees alumni outreach operations, which “is keeping 165,000 Cal Poly alumni together and (close) to the university,” she said.

Alumni were influential in Cohune’s transition into the “real world,” she said — they helped her land an interview, which began her career in advertising and marketing.

“And at the time, I didn’t even know about my alumni association,” Cohune said. “But today, it’s so much easier because everyone’s so connected online. You can just connect with us by giving us your name and email address and we’ll keep you abreast of news, and help you find fellow Mustangs wherever you end up finding a job outside San Luis Obispo.”

Since membership is free upon graduation, everyone is eligible to become a member. Cohune has a checklist for graduates to receive the benefits of being an alumnus.

The checklist is as follows: Update your profile on; apply for your official alumni card on the website; join/follow their LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; find your local alumni chapter on their website.

By following the Alumni Association on social media, graduates can keep in touch with the school and hear about happenings on campus “so you don’t miss us too much,” she said.

Once graduates receive their official alumni card, they automatically receive discounts and various alumni benefits. The card grants discounts for services such as insurance, including home, auto and renters insurance. Discounts are also available for hotels, restaurants and Cal Poly University Store alumni merchandise. Alumni are also eligible to join the Recreation Center.

It’s also an important time to think about giving back to the university, Cohune said. Students can make a contribution to the class of 2014’s student gift, which is a student emergency fund.

By donating $10-50, alumni can help students who can’t afford to buy food, medication, transportation home or other various things.

Another way alumni can also give back to the university is by supporting Cal Poly Proud by purchasing Cal Poly Proud merchandise, said Cohune, who was instrumental in developing the program.

She said since commencement is a proud event for everyone, people will be gravitating toward the Cal Poly Proud message.

“People hashtag about it, tweet about it and it’s going to be a big scene at commencement,” she said.

Cal Poly alumni can also receive an e-newsletter to find out about events happening in their area, campus news, promotions and benefits of the Alumni Association.

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