Spring lingers just around the corner, and for UC Davis students that means Picnic Day is quickly approaching.
Ongoing preparations are underway for the event, as organizers recently announced UC Davis alumni Tom and Meg Stallard as this year’s parade marshals.
Every year, the Picnic Day board of directors looks for individuals who exemplify the theme for that year’s event. This year’s theme is “Carpe Davis: Seizing Opportunities” and is supposed to represent students taking advantage of their time at UC Davis, said vice chair Ashley Khawsy.
“Since our theme was really focused on the school itself and the opportunities it provides its students, we really wanted to go back to our roots when choosing the parade marshals,” she said. “We looked for alumni that we felt had stayed connected to the university and continued to support it.”
As marshals, the Stallards will ride in the stagecoach at the beginning of the parade and, in a UC Davis first, will also serve as honorary judges at the cow-milking contest during the pre-week events.
After graduating from UC Davis in 1968, Tom returned to campus as a law student in 1972. While an undergraduate, he served on the Picnic Day board of directors for two years.
Looking back on his years at UC Davis, he recalls that time as a very exciting period in his life.
“I was the first person to go to college in my family so when I came to Davis, I felt like the sky was the limit,” he said. “I tried everything on campus … I wasn’t an academic star but I developed a lot of capabilities that have served me well over the years.”
Meg Stallard came to UC Davis as a transfer student in her junior year and became friends soon after with Tom, who convinced her to join the Picnic Day board of directors.
“I had a lot of fun serving [on the board of directors],” she said. “I only spent two years at Davis and if I hadn’t met Tom and joined the board, I probably would have graduated knowing only five people.”
With the exception of a few elements, the Stallards said that Picnic Day hasn’t changed drastically from their days as students.
“We used to have to park the cars on farm fields and run wires over the campus so that we could stay in communication with the information booth,” he said. “Now we have parking garages and cell phones so that part has changed quite a bit – but overall the original event has really continued.”
The Stallards got married shortly after graduation and reconnected with the campus when they moved back to Woodland approximately 20 years ago.
Both remain involved with the university. Tom previously served as president of the UC Davis School of Law’s Alumni Association Board and still regularly contributes to the school. Meg is the current Chair of the Board of Advisors at the UC Davis School of Education and is the past chair of the UC Davis Foundation Board of Trustees.
“We love this university, from the staff that we work with as volunteers to the old classmates and current students we have come into contact with,” she said.
Tom said if he could leave students with one piece of advice, it would be to stay connected with the university after graduation.
“All students are already alumni of UC Davis,” he said. “They shouldn’t let their association with the campus go – it will continue to bless them throughout their lives.”
ERICA LEE can be reached at email@example.com.