Join an Alumni Association
Whether you attended American River College, Cosumnes River College, Folsom Lake College, or Sacramento City College for one class, graduated with multiple degrees, or transferred to a university, you are a Los Rios alum and we want to recognize and remember you. Today's students are inspired by you and your fellow alumni. They appreciate your stories and memories, and value those alumni who give back to one of our colleges through volunteerism or through the Alumni Fund to help make their education possible. You can maintain your relationship with Los Rios after you leave by joining an Alumni Association at no cost.
Alumni Association members receive the following benefits:
- Alumni Association e-newsletter
- Library borrowing privileges (does not include use of library computers and online databases)
- Free admission to home athletic events
- Discount on clothing and gifts at the college store
- Alumni Association license plate frame or decal sticker (item varies depending on availability)
Alumni Association benefits will resume when we are back on campus.
For students entering college for the first time, usually the main goal is to discover purpose and go on to find success. Retired American River College counselor James Mar, also known as “Mr. American River,” believes his work as a counselor, and helping students gain clarity and direction, was fulfilling his destiny and true passion.
“Students mainly need to hear to follow their heart and to follow their curiosity. Those two will give you happiness in the future,” he said reflecting on how one encounter with a counselor at Sacramento City College changed his entire perspective on higher education.
Straight out of El Camino High School, Mar was accepted to the University of California, Berkeley to study engineering, but declined the offer and instead enrolled in Sacramento City College.
As an engineering major, Mar said he felt like he was a bit misguided and was struggling with some of his required courses. He said he worried that if he continued into the profession things would collapse. This led him to meet with a Sacramento City College counselor to explore his options.
Mar said that even today, he remembers how impactful meeting with a helpful and kind-hearted counselor was for him.
“She asked me the question, ‘What do you love to do?’ and this really paused me because in Chinese philosophy I don’t think that way,” Mar said. “You think of other people and fulfilling what their desires are. To think of what I wanted was very foreign to me.”
Mar was raised by what he calls “Old Chinese” parents with a culture very familiar with fulfilling the parent’s desires academically and professionally, which caused an immense amount of stress and pressure when it came to decision making. Ultimately Mar felt that his parents played an important role in creating a drive for success that stuck with him as he pursued his career, but the counselor he met with played an important role in choosing to put his dreams first.
After that meeting, Mar changed his major to psychology and went on to graduate from Sacramento City College. He furthered is education by obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Francisco State University in 1970 and a Master’s degree in Counseling (School; and Marriage, Family & Child emphasis) in 1974 from Sacramento State University. After receiving his Master’s degree, he took a part-time counseling position at Encina High School which led to a full-time crisis counseling position at McClatchy High School where he worked with Asian gangs.
“I wanted to help people in some capacity, whether that was in social work, high school counseling, a community-based organization; I was involved with student advocacy work while in college and strongly felt I needed to change society,” Mar said.
His passion for helping misguided students eventually led him to a part time counseling position with ARC in 1975 and various other roles including Dean of Student Development for a decade.
“The memorable moments for me were when I got to watch each student fulfill their dreams and find what truly makes them happy,” he said.
Even though Mar officially retired in 2014, he has still volunteered part time, continuing to benefit student success and academic fulfillment as a counselor.
Mar went on to become an ARC donor and developed three different student scholarships, the Jane Mar Leadership Role Scholarship, the Albert Mar Veterans Scholarship and the Judy Mays/James Mar Psychology Scholarship as his lasting legacy and contribution.
“I’ve helped many women and people of color go through the process of unfolding their cultural and religious impact and help put clarity in their own thoughts and hearts,” Mar said. “That is the main skill of a counselor to me. It’s not just giving advice, but helping them see what’s truly in their heart.”
Mar has advised and consoled students of all statuses, backgrounds and life-stages; students pressured to enter certain career fields where they would not be fulfilling their real passion. His goal as a counselor is to remind students that following their own dreams over a family member’s expectation for them is an important part of finding true happiness.
He has also donated towards plaques under two of his top female student’s names; one a Russian-Ukrainian student whose dream was to go to Berkeley and to an international Moroccan student whose dream was to go to Stanford.
“All of it taught me to teach from experience. I’ve had a very rich life and am very blessed. I loved what I was doing every minute at American River,” Mar added. “As I get older, I feel very fortunate in my life, and wouldn’t change a bit.”