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Cougars & Mustangs 

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Somewhere out there, in the California night, other souls release a strange magnetism that tickles one’s impulse to give praise. But who or what are these strange wraiths that flicker across the coastal landscape? You can call them a lot of things (all very nice, of course). Let’s begin by referring to them as the recipients of Cuesta College’s 2014 Volunteer Awards.

It’s a sad fact that in our world of paperwork, simple acts of generosity can become complicated. Jim Merzon, who has been honored with the Dr. Frank Martinez Superintendent/President’s Award, has not only been a great aid in helping ease the processes involved with donations to Cuesta, but through his community networking has attracted further donations. His work with the Lee Dovica Trust in 2013 resulted in the enormous donation which now allows Cuesta to offer Central Coast High School graduates their first semester.

Board of Trustees member Pat Mullen is receiving the J. Vard Loomis Award for Distinguished Board Service. Mullen’s nominator, Bob Wacker, lauded Mullen’s “exceptional leadership,” noting how he “sets a great example with his preparation and diligence for college issues.” Mullen has served nine years on the Board of Trustees, seven of them as board president.

The Associated Students of Cuesta College activities director, Sabrina Brussell, is the student volunteer whose coordination has overseen a great many of the things I’ve babbled on about before in this column.  She is receiving the John Schaub Student Volunteer Award.

Dr. Vera Wallen, whose credits include multiple superintendent and principal positions, dreamed as a young girl of sailing among the constellations. Although she became a teacher rather than an astronaut, after retiring she enrolled in a Cuesta College astronomy class just for fun. She found herself lending assistance in the classroom and her volunteering has continued, for example, at the annual Cuesta College Astronomy Research Seminar. Dr. Wallen has been honored with the Dr. Merlin E. Eisenbise Service in the Classroom Award.

Finally, the Betty Nielsen Volunteer of the Year Award goes to Pat Renshaw, media technician at the San Luis Obispo County of Education (COE), manager of the public access education Channel 19. The Cuesta College Marketing and Communications Department entered into a partnership for joint ownership of a video switching computer, which allows the college to broadcast events on Channel 19. Since 2011, Renshaw has assisted with training the marketing department staff and with the setup and filming of nearly 100 events.


Intern Chris White-Sanborn has been suspicious of Special Awards for Services to the School ever since he found out that Tom Riddle received one. Send your collegiate news to

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