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Monica and Evelyn Rojas

Alumni Spotlight, August 2011

Monica and Evelyn Rojas at WMA event.Working side by side, smiles beaming, Monica and Evelyn Rojas are obviously enjoying themselves. Less obvious is that these two Sac State alumni are mother and daughter, volunteering together for the first time.

For Evelyn (’97, English and TESOL), it was the opportunity to spend quality moments with her daughter that drew her to volunteer. Her work as an adjunct professor of ESL at Sierra and Cosumnes River Colleges normally keeps her busy. Given the convergence of downtime in the summer, her “past life” in track and field and Monica’s current interests in running, the World Masters Athletics Championships (WMA) in July presented itself as a perfect opportunity for mother and daughter to come together.

For Monica (‘10, Ethnic Studies), it was the opportunity to get her mother involved in volunteering.  Monica knew her mother loved her graduate education at Sac State, and was the inspiration for her own attendance. That shared Sac State pride, combined with their interests in running and her familiarity with the quality of events coordinated by Sac State Serves, convinced Monica that WMA would be a good first volunteer event for her mother. And it was; after this experience, Evelyn says she "definitely" wants to get involved again.

Evelyn is outgoing, charismatic, and “can run up to anyone and start helping.” As Monica can attest, Evelyn’s energy is contagious. While Monica is generally reserved with an air of humility, working alongside her mother, Monica is engaging and spirited.  In addition to the joy of working with each other, they both found the most rewarding part of their experience to be meeting the cousin of Evelyn Ashford, their running idol, after winning his own race during the event.

Monica hasn’t always been active in volunteering, but believes she has found a good fit with Sac State Serves.  While she feels she has always lived by a set of good morals, when her grandmother passed away in July 2010, Monica committed herself to always doing something that would have made her grandmother proud. The following month, Monica took part in her very first volunteer event, Race for the Arts with Sac State Serves.  Her experience has since inspired her to volunteer for other races and get back into the sport herself; she is currently training for a 5K and has a lifelong dream of running the Boston Marathon.

Monica believes that volunteering allows you to do things you normally wouldn’t be able to do, and such as the case with her Sac State Serves introduction to the Sacramento Ronald McDonald House, exposes you to things you never knew about. While attending Sac State, living in Davis, Monica only had time to go to school and go to work, until her final semester, when she established and was Treasurer for the Ethnic Studies Student Association.  Through hard effort and dedication to her studies, Monica graduated magna cum laude in December 2010. Now she relishes the opportunity to be surrounded by people who also like to volunteer. “Especially now that I’ve graduated, it allows me to meet others I normally wouldn’t have gotten to meet.” For Evelyn, WMA has shown her that there is always an opportunity in some way to get involved in what interests you.

With the onset of the fall academic semester, Evelyn returns to her busy work schedule and looks forward to more opportunities to spend time with her kids.  Monica, while looking forward to her next volunteer adventure, welcomes career possibilities that foster her passions for writing, service, and collaborating with diverse groups of people.

Contributed by M. Garcia


Each year, more than two thousand Sacramento State students, faculty, staff, and alumni participate in programs and projects sponsored by Community Engagement Center. Programs such as Alternative Break, AmeriCorps Students in Service, Sac State Serves, and Service Learning fulfill our mission to facilitate learning and engagement by linking campus and community for mutual benefit. Through Spotlight, Community Engagement Center will highlight outstanding individuals and programs advancing community engagement in the Sacramento region.

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last updated: 8/18/2011