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Alumni in the News - July 2011

Just For Fun

"Weird Al" Yankovic Explains His Rules for Parody Writing and Lasting Appeal

Alfred "Weird Al" Yankovic (B.S., Architecture, 1980) recently sat down for an interview to explain how he has remained the undisputed champ of musical parody for more than 25 years. Yankovic recorded his first parody, a spoof of The Knack's My Sharona called My Bologna, before gaining fame in the 1980s for parodies of Michael Jackson and Madonna.
Read more about Yankovic on

Dairy Farmer is One of Few Left in San Diego County

Dave Van Ommering (B.S., Agricultural Business, 1991) has lived most of his life on the 120-acre Van Ommering dairy farm in Lakeside, Calif., that he and his brother now manage. Van Ommering's farm is one of only four dairy farms operating in San Diego County, down from as many as 130 farms 50 years ago. Van Ommering discussed the tactics the family has employed to stay viable in an increasingly difficult environment for dairy producers.
Read more about Van Ommering in The San Diego Union-Tribune

Young Grad on African Peace Corps Assignment

Vida Tehrani (B.S., Social Sciences, 2009) is on assignment with the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso, Africa, where she hopes to empower girls through education, sports and community service. It hasn't been easy for Tehrani to deliver on her goals: she was evacuated from Niger in January after al-Qaida kidnapped and killed two French men and was later relocated to Egypt where violent protests were taking place in an effort to depose former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Read more about Tehrani in the Oakland Tribune

Artist Combines Photography with Poetry to Explore Western Landscape, Lifestyle

Stephen J. Mueller (B.S., Applied Art and Design, 1993) combines photography and poetry in his work as he explores the great glories and mysteries of the western landscape and lifestyle. Mueller's primary muse has been the western desert where he has worked to capture the essence of the Mojave and Colorado deserts.
Read more about Mueller in InlandSoCal

Career Moves

New Senior Commander Named at Camp Roberts

Brig. Gen. Keith D. Jones (City and Regional Planning, 1976) has assumed command of Camp Roberts, the California National Guard (CNG) training base located just north of Paso Robles. Jones was previously commander of the CNG’s Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos. He began his military career as an enlisted infantry soldier in 1971 before receiving his commission in 1973 through the California Military Academy.
Read about Jones in the Salinas Californian
More about Jones in The Tribune

Ag Business Grad Hired at Colorful Harvest

David Mancera (B.S., Agricultural Business, 2011) has joined Colorful Harvest's growing operations team. Mancera was formerly a senior financial analyst with Driscoll’s Strawberry Associates in Watsonville, CA. Colorful Harvest grows strawberries year round, and is known for its heirloom style, unusually colorful vegetables.
More on Mancera in Perishable News

Creator of Discusses Website

During college, Jake Brenner (B.S., Business Administration, 2010) was tired of renting houses without any information on the property or the landlord so he created, a website designed for students researching rentals in their respective college towns across country. The website relies on word-of-mouth promotion and currently has more than 550 dorms, apartments and houses listed at more than 750 schools.
Read more about Brenner in City on a Hill Press

Visalia Bank CEO Elected Vice Chair of State Board

Tom Beene (B.S., Animal Science, 1971) was elected to serve a one year term as vice chairman at large on the board of the California Bankers Association (CBA). Beene is the president and CEO of Visalia Community Bank and an active member of the CBA, one of the largest bank trade associations in the country.
Read more about Beene in The Business Journal

Horticulturist Retiring After 21 Years of Teaching

Cathy Haas (B.S., Ornamental Horticulture, 1974 and M.S., Agriculture, 1975) is retiring from her position as horticulture department chair at Monterey Peninsula College after 21 years. Haas began her career in horticulture as a teen doing yard work. She has educated students about plants, the environment and landscaping, inspiring a number of them to pursue careers in those fields.
Read more about Haas in the Monterey County Herald

Athletic Director Retires After 30 Years at Santa Maria High School

Ralph Baldiviez (B.S., Physical Education, 1973) retired from his position as athletic director of Santa Maria High School after 30 years of service. Baldiviez has been part of the school since 1963, the year he graduated. The former high school athlete went on to teach math and science and coach wrestling and football at the high school. He says he will now move on to the golf course and a 30-year list of of 'honey-do' chores.
Read more about Baldiviez in the Santa Maria Times

SLO Architect Joins Housing Trust Fund Board

Leonard J. Grant (B. Arch., Architecture, 1991) was recently announced as a new member of the board of directors of the San Luis Obispo County Housing Trust Fund. Grant has also served as president of the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects and has been on the boards of the Home Builders Association and the Arroyo Grande Hospital Foundation. The Housing Trust Fund is a nonprofit organization created to increase the supply of subsidized housing in the county.
Read more about Grant in The Tribune

Electrician Promoted to Operations Manager of Electrical Company

Gregory Santos (B.S., Business Administration, 1993) has been promoted from division manager to operations manager of Rosendin Electric for the Silicon Valley Area. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., Rosendin Electric has more than 1,500 employees. Santos joined Rosendin Electric as an electrician in 1997 and has 23 years of experience in the industry.
Read more about Santos in Electrical Construction and Maintenance

Wine Packaging Producer Hires Industrial Technology Grad

Max Levine (B.S., Industrial Technology, 2010) has been announced as supply chain specialist of Cork Supply USA, a company that specializes in the production and distribution of wine-making and wine-packaging products. Levine will manage purchasing and logistics for their Sparflex brand.
Read more about Levine on

Graphic Communication Grad Honors Family Printing Heritage

David Moody (B.S., Graphic Communication, 1973) is the ultimate enthusiast of Heidelberg letterpress equipment. Moody is the proprietor of E&D Letterpress & Finishing Inc., an old-fashioned printing business serving Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. His grandfather owned a printing business and his father owned a type shop so it was only natural for Moody to join the printing business as well. Over the years, he has collected letterpresses that produce an authentic vintage look in order to create distinctive materials.
Read more about Moody on

Farm Bureau Hires Program Coordinator

Carrie Crane (B.S., Dairy Science, 2009) was recently hired as program coordinator of Tulare County Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau represents more than 2,500 family farmers in Tulare County and is dedicated to public education and advocacy on behalf of its members.
Read more about Crane in the Visalia Times-Delta

Architect Joins Multidisciplinary Firm, EwingCole

Robert Curtin (B.S., Architecture, 1979) has been hired by EwingCole as principal of corporate development. Curtin brings more than 30 years of industry experience to the architecture, engineering and interior design firm.
Read more about Curtin in CityBizList Philadelphia

Honors & Awards

Forestry Solutions Company Wins World Finance Award

At the London Stock Exchange, Guilherme Monteiro do Prado Valladares (B.S., Forestry and Natural Resources, 1998) received the world finance award for best carbon market forestry developer, South America, 2011. Valladares is the founder and CEO of Ambiental PV, a company that provides environmentally friendly solutions and competitive returns to forestry companies.
Watch the video of Valladares receiving the award at

Grad Receives Bonnie Dayan Memorial Award from Companies That Care

Fran Durekas (Human Development, 1990) was honored with the 2011 Bonnie Dayan Memorial Award from the Center for Companies That Care during the nonprofit organization’s community symposium. She won the award for leadership in developing happy, motivated and focused staff members through a company culture that values and empowers employees. Durekas is the founder and chief development officer of Childrens' Creative Learning Centers, a provider of employer-sponsored early childhood education and care solutions.
Read more about Durekas in EON (Enhanced Online News)

Architect Wins Redesign Contest

Ron Stumpf (B.S., Architecture, 1975) won REALTOR Magazine’s Brokerage Office Redesign Contest. The Fresno, Calif., broker has been in commercial real estate for 33 years and runs Stumpf and Company as a solo practitioner. Stumpf regularly meets clients in his office and decided to remodel to enhance the perception of professionalism.
Read more about Stumpf in REALTOR Magazine

Grad Awarded $60,000 Flex MBA Scholarship

Elise Drakes (B. Arch., Architecture, 2006) was awarded a $60,000 scholarship to Chapman University's Argyros School of Business and Economics. Drakes was one of about 70 people nominated for the award.
Read more about Drakes in the Orange County Register
Also read more about Drakes on


Robert Adam Grant

Robert Adam Grant (B.S., Social Sciences, 1963) of Paso Robles passed away peacefully Wednesday, May 25.
Read more about Grant in the Paso Robles Press

Herbert Bundesen

Herbert Bundesen (B.S., Agricultural Engineering, 1948) died June 11.
Read more about Bundesen on
Read more about Bundesen in the Press Democrat

Ellen Shearer Mager

Ellen Shearer Mager (M.S., Chemistry, 1995 and M.S., Agriculture, 1995) passed away Sunday, June 5, in San Luis Obispo.
Read more about Mager in The Tribune