Melissa Mirkovich-ScholesJuly 30, 2018 — Two longtime friends of CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) will serve as co-presidents of the CSUCI Alumni & Friends Association Board.

Longtime board member and well-known community activist Leah Lacayo and CSUCI alumnus Melissa Mirkovich-Scholes will serve together, both sharing a vision for increased engagement from CSUCI alumni.

“It’s more than just financial support,” said Mirkovich-Scholes, who graduated in 2005. “It’s involvement by volunteering at Commencement, mentoring students and attending events. I want to find even more avenues for alumni to get involved.”

It’s important for alumni to support their alma mater, she said, because graduates get a lot more from CSUCI than an education.

“We gain lifelong memories, it’s a part of growing up and we are who we are partially because of our experience here at the University,” she said. “Staying connected and giving back is so important.”

Mirkovich-Scholes graduated with a degree in Liberal Studies and is a Senior Sales Associate at SAGE Publishing in Thousand Oaks, where she has worked for more than 10 years.

While she was attending CSUCI, she became involved with the Associated Students Incorporated (ASI) and became ASI’s inaugural vice president. She was also president of the Student Programming Board, an orientation leader, a member of Gamma Beta Phi, and was active in a number of other campus organizations.

“It was the first year and I had moved away from home (Los Angeles), and I kind of didn’t know what else to do, so I showed up to a meeting aimed at getting students involved in events and somebody liked my ideas,” she said.

She’s been involved with CSUCI ever since and hopes to encourage other alumni to do the same.

Lacayo got involved with CSUCI at the beginning of the University alongside her husband, Henry L. “Hank” Lacayo, who passed away in May 2017.  Hank Lacayo had a storied career as a national labor leader, rubbing elbows with U.S. Presidents and serving with the United Auto Workers (UAW) national headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.

Hank founded the Henry L. “Hank” Lacayo Institute for Workforce & Community Studies (HLI) at CSUCI with the goal of matching students with career opportunities. He received an honorary doctorate from CSUCI in 2012.

Leah LacayoLeah Lacayo has been a force in Ventura County as well. This is her second experience as President of Alumni & Friends and she has served on the Board of Directors since 2008. She was appointed President of the Ventura County Fair Board in 2014.

“One of the reasons I feel so close to the University is because of Hank’s honorary degree and the HLI, where interns are furthering his legacy,” she said. “Especially with immigrant families. That was important to Hank and it’s important to me.”

Her work on the alumni board gives “us older folks a chance to mentor some of those who are up and coming,” Leah Lacayo said.

Leah Lacayo said she also hopes to be an asset to the board with the contacts she has made serving on other boards, including the Ventura County Women’s Political Council and the Fair board which is linked to many agricultural leaders.

“Both Leah and Melissa bring a breadth of professional experience in the non-profit and publishing industry sectors to the board,” said Director of Career Development & Alumni Engagement Amanda Carpenter, Ed.D. “We are honored to have a diverse group of board members who have the expertise and passion for our mission that will allow them to elevate the work of the board.”

The board also welcomes four new alumni members: 2013 Chemistry graduate Ashley Seery, 2012 Communications graduate Georg Winkler, 2006 Computer Science graduate Alan West and 2015 Biotechnology & Bioinformatics masters graduate Eric Meissner.

To learn more about CSUCI’s Alumni & Friends Association Board, please visit: