In this 2010 photo, Diane Collins, third from right, poses with students in celebration of the Student Government Association’s 100th anniversary.
Longtime SGA Advisor Retires
Working behind the scenes, Diane Collins was the first point of contact for students as she helped them to succeed in the many endeavors and events they were involved with through MCLA’s many clubs and organizations.
Recently, after more than 40 years on campus and over three decades as the office manager for the Student Government Association (SGA), Collins retired.
She began working on campus in the 1970s, first in the Office of Graduate and Continuing Education, then at the Campus Lab School in Mark Hopkins Hall. After the lab school closed in 1983, she moved to student government, where she remained for the past 32 years.
Back then, the campus only had 18 clubs and organizations. Today, there are more than 60.
“I find the more students are involved, the happier they are in their college experience,” Collins said in an interview shortly before her retirement. “I see a big growth in them, and how they mature in their interactions with SGA. I always tell the students, if student government doesn’t have what they’re interested in, they can start a new club.”
According to Collins, she worked with “the best of the best.”
“As the clubs and organizations grew in number, I saw more freshmen run for positions, and become more vocal. We saw a lot more involvement,” she said.
Each on-campus club and organization needs advice on how to manage their budgets, fundraising efforts and community service, and Collins was the person they went to for advice and support. She also helped coordinate SGA elections and programs such as the annual Sam Gomez Classic Road Race, and frequently stepped in to help students organize off-campus trips.
“My goal was to always make sure each and every student who needed me left my office satisfied and understood what it’s all about," Collins said. “My door was always open to everyone.”
At one point in her career, former College President Thomas Aceto offered her a different position on campus. “It meant more money, but I enjoyed working with the students so much, I wanted to stay in Student Government.”
Five years ago, as a result of her positive influence as a leader and adviser, a scholarship was named in Collins’ honor at SGA’s 100th anniversary. It was endowed within the first year.
“It was a shock to me. I was speechless!” Collins said of the moment she learned of the honor.
Previously, for the first time in the history of the College, the Graduating Class of 2002 presented Collins, instead of a member of the faculty, with its Baccalaureate Award, to honor her for her service.
She will miss the students.
“That’s why I stayed in Student Government. It really made a difference in my day when I could sit with a student, help that student, and they left my office with a smile on their face. Then I knew that I’d answered their questions and I’d helped them.”
Collins particularly enjoys when alumni get back in touch with her.
“They’ll send cards and stay in contact with me on Facebook, Linked In, and other social media,” she explained. “When students contact me years later and they’re successful, it’s a connection that continues to make me happy.”
What’s her best advice to students?
“Fall in love with what you want to do for a living, and try to find work that fits your personality,” Collins said. “When they do, like I did with SGA, they’ll be successful.”