Carol Sconyers’ first waves to a Picnic Day crowd came alongside her husband, Hal, atop a fraternity parade float.
“It was 62 years ago that we were on that float. We were in black graduation caps and gowns. It was terribly windy — they almost had to cancel Picnic Day — so we were trying to hold the mortarboards on our heads, and stand up on the float, with that wind blowing,” she says, laughing at the memory.
“That part was a struggle, so some of the other details have faded.”
Hopefully, the Sconyerses will have it easier an this Saturday’s Picnic Day. They have been chosen to serve as parade marshals.
“We’ve been to a lot of Picnic Days, so to get to say, ‘Let the parade begin!’ is going to be wonderful,” Carol says.
They’ll share the honor with Sandy Holman, another UC Davis graduate who has strived to give back to the campus and the community.
In 1948, Hal first enrolled at UCD as one of a flood of veterans who attended college on the G.I. Bill. He selected pre-veterinary medicine as a major in that, the first year of the newly minted School of Veterinary Medicine. In 1951, Carol enrolled as a home economics major.
Classes in agronomy led Hal down a different career path. He began by making farm loans at a Sacramento bank and eventually founded Modesto Banking Company.
A phone call led to the couple’s 1994 Picnic Day weekend-move back to Davis — it came from a UCD development officer asking for a donation in support of the Alpha Gamma Rho room inside the soon-to-be-built Buehler Alumni Center.
That led to a trip back to campus that rekindled the couple’s affection for the campus and for the city.
Hal served on the California Aggie Alumni Association board from 1991 to 1995, then on the UC Davis Foundation board from 1995 to 2001.
Fast friends with Larry Vanderhoef, the couple set out to help bring to life the then-chancellor’s vision of a world-class performing arts center on the campus. They sat on the early steering committee and helped raise seed money for what became the Mondavi Center.
Carol and Hal were in the audience on the first opening night, and they’ve remained fixtures at the Mondavi ever since.
Carol served as president of Friends of UC Davis Presents, later renamed Friends of the Mondavi Center, for three years, and the couple can still be found volunteering as ushers at matinée shows inside the building they helped make possible.
The Sconyerses also have contributed to UCD intercollegiate athletics, the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh, the Graduate School of Management and scholarship programs.
In the mid-1980s, Sandy Holman was a student-athlete at UCD, majoring in psychology and playing on the volleyball team, while working a number of campus jobs — including at the Tape Lab, where students could rent audio tapes of lectures.
She met her future husband, Mark, a fellow Aggie, when they became roommates. The couple will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary next year.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in 1987, and completing her master’s degree from Sacramento State University, Holman founded the Culture Co-op, in Davis, in 1991. It provides products, speakers and training aimed at fostering awareness and appreciation for diverse communities.
It also provides internship opportunities for UCD students. Currently, 25 students are working for the co-op.
“There’s not anything I wouldn’t do for those young people,” she said. “I’m not a millionaire, I just put a lot of love in there. I got chosen with two people who have given a lot, but who have beautiful hearts.”
The co-op’s educational products include award-winning children’s books penned by Holman, including “Grandpa, Is Everything Black Bad?,” about an African boy’s lessons from his grandfather, and “We All Have a Heritage.”
She has served on the board of the nonprofit International House, which also seeks to promote respect and cultural appreciation. In 2011, she had a hand in the inaugural International Festival: a daylong educational event spotlighting people from different countries.
Holman has given talks to thousands of children and adults on a range of topics that also include alcohol and drug prevention, parental involvement, self-esteem, communication and teamwork. And she has served on the boards of director for local and state agencies, including the National Dropout Prevention Network.
Her work has been honored numerous times, including by the state of California for creating a model program for at-risk schools.
— Reach Cory Golden at [email protected] or 530-747-8046.