July 12: California Dreamin'

It is hard to believe that we’ve already travelled over 4,300 miles and have made it to the other side of the country. We can’t really believe it sometimes as it has flown by. With 3 days in California, we haven’t quite turned the corner back East, but we will take the milestone and are thankful for the journey thus far.

Our first stop (which we were early for, woo!) was in Sacramento to meet with Derek Cressman '90, who we knew was a debate coach and thought that was really cool. Little did we know that he is also a published writer in both fiction and nonfiction, but ALSO an olive rancher. Talk about a set of ways to work and be in community. At Williams, he got involved with environmental activism through Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MassPIRG), and continued this work for a while after he graduated. He also began writing nonfiction works with a focus on politics before a shift in how people consumed media caused him to pivot into fiction. He shared a lovely story about the inspiration for olive ranching and how it serves as a passion and release from writing. We wrapped up and headed to our next big city: San Francisco. 

When we thought of California, we thought sunshine, warmth, beaches. We did not really expect to have intense fog and 55 degree weather, nearly half the temperature while in Reno, plus a bunch of wind. And yet, the sweaters were on, Juan was shivering, our flag was getting tossed around, and we waited for folks to show up (our run of being early basically ended here). We had about a dozen alumni join us in The Presidio for some nice casual conversation, catching up, swag distribution, and Juan started a nice book collecting notes and best wishes from folks at these stops. A huge shout out to one of our 'super fans,' Christopher Kerby '81, who helped us find this location! 

After some shivering and layers being added, we left San Francisco on the way to East Palo Alto. Gabe Cervantes ‘13 invited us over for some chicken flautas prepared by his mother, which we could not turn down. He even texted us while at The Presidio inquiring about our estimated time of arrival as his mother wanted them to be warm and fresh. Absolutely delicious. And they brought out some cake. Also delicious…¡Gracias mama!

Anyways, over dinner we were able to chat with Gabe about his journey, which has  led him to work as Research Manager at Institute for the Future, an entity that specializes in forecasting trends and changes that impact organizations in the long term. His journey was nothing short of unexpected turns and serendipity, stemming from his being let go from a sales role at an early organization (due to cut-throat dynamics in the culture) to enrolling in law school and later postponing that journey as he unexpectedly landed the role with his current employer, which immediately offered him a role at the organization after applying for an entry-level position to pay for bills in the interim. Three years later, Gabe speaks with passion about his role as he leads workshops and conversations with organizations like LinkedIn, United Rentals, WestRock, Walmart, and the Virginia Military Institute. His inspiration was contagious and his plan to pursuit law school has pivoted into studies connected to the work he has found a passion for in forecasting. 

With full bellies, we got pointed in the right direction and moved on towards Los Gatos to stay at the home of Steve Troyer ‘86, who very kindly invited us over and tolerated us showing up late. The next day was a long trip down the coast towards LA, so we needed some rest.


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