Since 1903, students have been drawn to the community and learning environment of Cal Poly. Even years after their commencements, pride and a sense of connection to the “Mustang Legacy” can still be observed in graduates.
Within campus itself, one often-cited-positive attribute of Cal Poly students is the kindness and compassion they show for both each other, and the surrounding San Luis Obispo community.
Physics freshman Katie Carter said the positivity is one of the major things that drew her to Cal Poly in the first place.
“When I first visited the campus as a high-schooler, everyone was super friendly and when I wasn’t sure how to get somewhere and would ask, random strangers would just offer to walk me all the way there, making conversation along the way.”
This compassionate nature is also seen in the many student organizations who give back to the community. Most sororities and fraternities are active in giving back both locally and otherwise. Clubs like Circle K and Be The Match bring like-minded students together for the sole purpose of serving others.
In addition to having a positive social and emotional environment, Cal Poly’s academic reputation and Learn by Doing philosophy are major sources of pride for students and alumni alike.
“Cal Poly has such an incredible reputation out in the workforce, and Learn by Doing is the best experience any college kid could have,” mechanical engineering alumna Karen Briley said.
Leslie Maher Pease, who graduated with a home economics degree in 1978, echoed this sentiment, saying she “never met an alumni of Cal Poly that didn’t love their experience there.”
Pease comes from a legacy of Mustang alumni, with 12 family members who have graduated from or are currently attending Cal Poly.
Pease’s sister, Lisa Maher Evaristo, emphasized the connection she feels with all students attending or who graduated from Cal Poly, and said when alumni come into her business — a bakery in the Bay Area — they become friends instantly.
“Cal Poly alumni are always excited to talk about our school! It is like long lost family that you hadn’t met yet but have instant connection,” Evaristo said. “Being a Mustang is a lifetime of promoting, giving back and just plain being an excited alumni.”
The Cal Poly Alumni Association is active as well, with 20 different chapters hosting various events throughout the year and across the country. This year, the Alumni Association hosts its inaugural Cal Poly Family Camp, a week-long trip in Pinecrest, California for families and alumni to connect and relax in a fun outdoor environment.
Sarah Howland, a political science graduate, is a third-generation Mustang who said when choosing a school, Cal Poly “felt like an extension of my hometown, my family and myself. It was just the right fit for me.”
Though Howland just graduated at the end of winter quarter, she will return in the fall as well. “My undergraduate career was an incredible educational experience that introduced me to outstanding students and faculty members, so I inevitably chose Cal Poly again for my post-baccalaureate career. I’m grateful that I knew so many wonderful people associated with Cal Poly because it ultimately influenced my decision to choose Cal Poly … twice!”
Both Howland’s mother and 93-year-old grandfather are Mustangs, and speak fondly of both their experiences and the school itself. Her grandfather, Harold C. Pfost, graduated in 1952, and initially chose the then all-male Cal Poly after leaving the Navy, because it accepted the G.I. Bill.
“[Being a Mustang] means that you received a well-earned degree from an amazing academic institution,” Pfost said. “It’s been wonderful over the years to watch Cal Poly grow and mature into an outstanding leading university, I’ve always been proud to say I am a Mustang!”