“Wherever SOMeCA alumni go, we bring a sense of openness and principle and a dedication to dialogue in the true sense of the word,” Sayo Fujioka said to all of the alumni and students in the room. “That is, we exchange ideas with an openness and looking forward to emerging change in a different direction, and that’s rare, and we all do it wherever we go.”

Student Organization Advising and Resources, Student Media and Cultural Arts and Diversity (SOMeCA) celebrated its 25-year anniversary last weekend with over 100 alumni in attendance. Alumni shared how their SOMeCA experience changed their perspectives of leadership and influenced their careers to students during both the three hour event and workshops held earlier in the day.

As part of UCSC’s alumni weekend, SOMeCA honored Student Organization Advising and Resources director Sayo Fujioka for her role in facilitating student organizations and developing leadership. She was presented with an excellence award from executive vice chancellor Alison Galloway during the dinner presentations.

Various alumni spoke to the crowd of about 200, including performance and theater educator Armond Dorsey (‘96) who recounted his time at UCSC as one of around 150 African American students on campus at the time.

Feeling lost, Dorsey connected with now-director of Cultural Arts and Diversity Don Williams, both feeling there needed to be more programs like African American Theater Arts Troupe. From there sparked the idea of Rainbow Theater in 1992. Dorsey said his experience in SOMeCA taught him about collaboration and how to work with others.

“25 years — we all belong, we all have a family, we all have a home. We have built leaders, we’ve built teachers, artists, producers, directors and entertainers,” Armond said to the guests. “Having left UC Santa Cruz I did have a chance to attend a few other universities, and the spirit that is in here doesn’t exist in other places. We have something special, we have something real and we have a real call to action.”

Similarly, Leisette Rodriguez (‘89) and co-chair for Engaging Education Adlemy Garcia announced the continued development of a SOMeCA leadership program, which sustains a type of leadership oriented toward social change and mentoring that is also student-initiated and student-driven.

“I just want to encourage the current students to make the mistakes, fly high and not be afraid to fall,” Rodriguez said. “We got you. We are your net. We are here.”