Just Because

Traci Holmes Libby, the sage of the Cal Poly Parents Facebook page, shares her take on the Mustang Family.

Traci Holmes Libby and her daughter on graduation day

Traci Holmes Libby (left) is a parent of a recent graduate who has volunteered for years as an administrator of the Cal Poly SLO Mustang Parents group on Facebook. She regularly answers questions and provides guidance for those parents, family and friends supporting Cal Poly students.

When we first joined the Mustang Family, I was truly taken aback (and a bit skeptical, truth be told) that parents and students who were complete strangers were reaching out to help each other “just because.” This was a highly selective university after all, and these were strangers whose only bond was that they or their students attended Cal Poly. But the things that I’ve seen people do for each other over the past few years have absolutely knocked my socks off.

The Cal Poly SLO Mustang Parents Facebook page, an unofficial group of more than 14,000 Cal Poly parents, students, faculty and staff, has become a nationwide network of Mustang families who help each other with everything from reminders and advice, to rescuing students stranded at airports during holiday travel, and helping recreate a student’s baseball memorabilia collection lost in the Santa Rosa fires.

If you’re new to Cal Poly, I hope you’ll embrace our community of kindness and caring — it’s really something special.

Recently a parent in the Bay Area rented a van to take a batch of students (none of whom were his own) from fogged-in SFO to San Luis Obispo so they could arrive in time for their first day of winter quarter. On regional parent Facebook pages, I’ve seen countless families offer to bring forgotten items or care packages with them as they head to SLO for a weekend. Just because.

Informal groups have sprouted up in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, and other locations, who get together for occasional coffee or happy hours and welcome new Mustang families to join them. Not as a fundraising activity, but just because.

There are older students who have joined the incoming student Facebook pages to answer questions about campus life, classes, residence halls, and all sorts of other topics. Recently, a sophomore organized a list of current students who have volunteered their contact information to help answer questions about campus life for new students or parents. Cal Poly’s student orientation program, one of the best in the nation, is comprised almost solely of student volunteers — more than 800 of them. Older students helping younger students. Just because.

Students have volunteered to walk other students to the campus counseling center when they need emotional support. They reached out to introverted students to invite them to school clubs. Local parents have accompanied students to the ER until their parents can arrive from afar. A local rabbi has brought free chicken soup to sick students of different denominations. An informal rideshare page exists where Cal Poly students offer and receive rides within California and beyond. All just because.

Now that my student has graduated (Graphic Communication ‘18), and we have continued to stay connected with the friends and families we met through her four years, we know that it’s not really “just because.”  It’s “Just because that’s how the Mustang family rolls and takes care of its own.” If you’re new to Cal Poly, I hope you’ll embrace our community of kindness and caring — it’s really something special. And if you’re already part of the Mustang family, remember to pay it forward.