SBVC Alumnus Builds Student Support on Campus

Ed Szumski has a knack for rallying appreciation for others, never forgetting a birthday, and helping students achieve their full potential as they navigate the difficult academic road to success. Szumski has brought decades of smiles in little and big ways to the San Bernardino Valley College campus, where he now helps grow alumni involvement to benefit students.  
 
Recently, he returned from his own 50-year high school reunion with its former faculty and about 80 classmates, concerned that their longtime alumni association there was barely assisting the graduating seniors.  
 
Just over ten years ago, he and classmate Mike Mack forged a better way to help more students. They launched a quarterly newsletter offering membership cards with entry into the high school sporting events. They gave out scholarships to graduates, along with other benefits from their Alumni Association, which to date has awarded $13,950. The plan inspired him to try that same approach for the SBVC campus. 
 
"I want to replicate the success of my high school alumni association here at SBVC," said Szumski, who graduated in 1976 at SBVC with an associates degree in Electronics Communications Technology, and holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from California State University San Bernardino. He also served as SBVC Alumni Association president for three years in the early 2000’s, which is today part of the SBVC Foundation.  
 
Currently, Szumski and three foundation members sit on the Alumni Committee, including Gary Kelly, Dexter Thomas and Taylor Williams, where they are tasked with increasing association membership, planning alumni events, including the nomination and the selection process for new Distinguished Alumni and Alumni Hall of Fame members.   
 
Their newest member, Taylor Williams, is the granddaughter of Lois Carson, a long-time member of the SBVC Foundation and also the San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustees. 
 
"We four sat together at our recent Foundation retreat and brainstormed ways to increase the database of alumni through active recruitment to the Alumni Association," he said.  
 
Their strategic approach for a one-year free membership to graduating students implemented two years ago was a hit. Upwards of 100 students signed up, capturing local contacts for follow-up. As the first year free membership expired, students could access renewals, and a $25 lifetime membership. Targeted scholarships in nursing, human services, law enforcement, and applied technology in welding, electrical, aeronautics, was another big attraction. 
 
"[It] sounded good in gaining the interest of many of our students,” he said, adding that Taylor Williams is strong on getting the word out via social media platforms.  
 
Szumski came aboard SBVC as an adjunct professor three years before being hired full time in 1985, and retiring in 2013. During that time, and years following, he garnered recognition from the college, including the Outstanding Service Award five times over the years, the Honored Retiree Award twice in 2014 and 2015.  
 
Szumski also served as Academic Senate president, and now serves as SBVC Alumni Association representative on the SBVC Foundation Board. Among numerous accolades, he was also selected as Outstanding Alumni of California State University San Bernardino in 2000. In 2016, Szumski was honored along with 90 other Distinguished Alumni of San Bernardino Valley College. 
 
A 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, he served in the 63rd Avionics Maintenance Squadron as an electronics technician, and was selected Norton Air Force Base Airman of the Month in 1970.  Over the years, Szumski served 24 years as president of the SBVC Faculty Association, the social side of the organization, ending in 2012.  
 
Under his direction, he went the extra mile to applaud others for their work ethic through the "Retiree/Member Appreciation Day” luncheon. He also celebrated "Everybody's Birthday" to make sure they received a free birthday cake when they bought a meal in the SBVC Sun Room restaurant. 
 
Every April, he organized honors for SBVC secretaries with “Administrative Professionals Week,” as well as birthday cards for personnel, and some 180 retirees. For years, all new students were greeted with a smile. From those early "glory days” until today, he still serves the students by writing reference letters, and letters of support to apply for scholarships.  
 
“I always want my students to get a great education, to be successful, to get great jobs, earn a lot of money, and to fund social security," he said.