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Changing Our Community and World

By Rod Hendry
CSU Associates invite all to come learn while giving back.

Nelson Mandela is often quoted as saying, “Education is the greatest weapon you can use to change the world.” There is a non-profit in the Coachella Valley that bases its purpose and existence upon this belief.

Ten years ago, led by the vision of Jan Oliphant, the Cal State University Associates was established. Our primary activity is to provide an intriguing speaker series at the beautiful, modern Indian Wells theater. Attending the series brings community members onto the vibrant CSUSB Palm Desert Campus. The brown buildings off Cook Street take on more meaning, as members see the frenetic activity of students rushing to and from classes or congregating in various outdoor enclaves.

The “what” we do is provide a wonderful speaker series. The “why” we do it is to raise needed scholarship funds for our students, a majority of whom are first-in-family to attend a university. Our tagline, Creating Brighter Futures, finds meaning in the lives of students we have helped.

We strive to be relevant, insightful and challenging to our members. This year our topics have included the following: The Rising Power of the Internet; The New Entrepreneurs of the Valley; The Legalization of Marijuana: Weed 101; and Technology: Friend or Foe. From March through May our topics include Medical Breakthroughs, Dignity in Dying, and Geothermal Power: The Future is Bubbling. We meet the second Tuesday of the month, October through May, excluding December.

If you are not a member, consider becoming one today. Our annual membership is nominal, $100 per individual, $150 per couple. The funds we raise through memberships go to support student scholarships, and we have already awarded scholarships in excess of $100,000. Your membership is more than a speaker series. It is also a place to socialize and network during our social hour before the speaker event, which includes appetizers and refreshments. If you would like to attend only one event, please come as our guest and try us out. You simply need to RSVP with development associate Michelle Newman at the number below.

This year, we are also hosting our first endowed scholarship event, John J. Benoit, Extending the Legacy Dinner, to be held April 5, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., at the elegant Hotel Paseo. Funds raised will help to establish the John J. & Sheryl Benoit Endowed Scholarship. Please consider joining us for an evening of remembrance and celebration. We will have live entertainment and fine dining, prepared by AC3 Restaurant + Bar, a distinct style of New American cuisine that incorporates eclectic, international influences into classic dishes. Tickets are on sale now for $150 per person. Call Michelle or go online at for further details.

Help us change our community. Help us create brighter futures, one student at a time.

Rod Hendry is president of Cal State University Associates and can be reached at For more information on programs or membership, contact Michelle Newman at (760) 341.2883, ext. 78140, or visit

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