Paying it Forward
Alumni Claudia Buck and Paul Page honor their love for Cal Poly, and each other, with a scholarship endowment fund.
Same Cal Poly building, same hallways, side-by-side majors. Yet it took a science class across campus for Claudia Buck (Journalism, ’76) and Paul Page (Graphic Communication, ’76) to meet by chance. During a professor’s demonstration of light refraction, the pair serendipitously locked eyes in a mirror. That moment was the start of a deep friendship. Two years after graduating in 1976, they fell in love and eventually married.
The couple during a biking trip in Loire Valley, France.
The pair’s love for Cal Poly has spanned a 45-year marriage, two children (one is a Cal Poly alumnus) and successful careers, culminating in a scholarship endowment fund to support the next generation of graphic communication and journalism students.
“Both of us have been forever enriched by our Cal Poly experiences, both personally and professionally,” Buck said. “Giving back to a place that launched our careers — not to mention our marriage — was an easy choice. It is hugely gratifying for both of us to help pass on the gift of a Cal Poly Learn by Doing education to a future graduate.”
Creating a scholarship, they note, is just one way that alumni can engage with Cal Poly. Over the years, the pair have mentored students, engaged with alumni and met with prospective students at Cal Poly events in Sacramento. Buck also served 15 years on the Cal Poly Journalism Advisory Board, including two years as chair.
The couple contribute annually to their endowment fund, expecting it will continue to sponsor students for many years to come. “We hope [this scholarship] smooths the path for someone whose financial resources may not be substantial enough to allow them to focus on their education or even to stay in school,” Buck said.
The pair, who are passionate about helping students from all backgrounds and trajectories, came to Cal Poly on vastly different journeys. “I was a journalism nerd in high school,” Buck said. “What excited me and why I chose Cal Poly was that you could get right into journalism from the get-go. It was all part of that Learn by Doing philosophy where you were hands-on as a freshman, writing, editing, taking photos, doing TV or radio, whatever your passion was.”
Page, on the other hand, had a much different college path that he describes as a “long and winding road.” He started out at UC Santa Cruz then moved on to UC Berkeley for architecture before finally settling down at Cal Poly as a junior. He initially enrolled as an architecture student before accidentally stumbling across the Graphic Communication Department.
“I saw how [the department] was teaching students to prepare art, get it on a printing press and use it for editorial or marketing purposes. I met with the department head and realized this is what I want to do. It was fortuitous,” Page said.
Page and Buck when they were students at Cal Poly
in the 1970s.
In 1978, the two moved to Sacramento, where they married and launched 40-year careers in their respective professions.Buck’s career started at the Sacramento Bee, where she was a Capitol Bureau reporter, and later a business editor and personal finance columnist. While she and Page were in the midst of raising their two young children, she worked as a freelance writer and editor and eventually as managing editor of California Journal, the nonpartisan politics and public affairs magazine.
“Whether I was doing newspaper writing, magazine editing, freelancing writing or managing reporters in a newsroom, I was employing skills I learned at Cal Poly. They were the essential foundation that carried through my entire career,” Buck said.
Pursuing his passion for graphic design, Page opened his own company, Page Design Inc., in 1980. It grew into one of Sacramento’s largest graphic design studios, with 15 employees and $2 million in annual revenue. After a 37-year career at Page Design, he retired in 2017.
“When I started my career in graphic design, virtually everything we created wound up on a printing press,” Page said. “Because Cal Poly’s graphic design program was rich in both creativity and in printing technology, I knew how to deliver creative solutions that were immediately ready for production, whether it was a bank’s annual report or a statewide marketing campaign. I was fortunate to develop strong relationships with local printing companies, most of which were owned by Cal Poly Graphic Communication graduates. There was a mutual respect because we all knew there was a Learn by Doing ethic in everything we did.”
Buck, Weird Al Yankovic and Page at the centennial celebration
of the student press at Cal Poly in October of 2016. Yankovic
was among the first inductees into the inaugural Mustang Media
Hall of Fame.
After their retirements, and after Buck stepped down as chair of the journalism advisory board, they decided to invest in Cal Poly’s future and launch their Buck-Page scholarship endowment.
“We know what Cal Poly did for us and we know what it did for our son Cameron Page (Construction Management, ’09). We owe our careers completely to what we learned at Cal Poly. Creating the scholarship was a way to pay it forward and, in a small way, help ensure that other journalism and graphic communication students have the same opportunity for a first-class education as we did,” Buck said.
The Buck-Page Scholarship launched in 2020 and alternates between assisting journalism and graphic communication students who demonstrate financial need.
“Graphic communication students often have heavy debt burdens, and the Buck-Page Scholarship not only helps relieve that debt, but the whole purpose of the scholarship is student success,” Graphic Communication Department Chair Colleen Twomey said. “The huge generosity of this ongoing scholarship is incredible. There is synergy between graphic communication and journalism, and the fact that this scholarship benefits both departments is delightful.”
Journalism Department Chair Brady Teufel shares Twomey’s sentiments: “The Journalism Department is honored to be a bridge between deserving students and generous supporters such as Claudia and Paul. The faculty take great care when selecting the recipients of scholarships and there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing how much of an impact they have on students’ lives.”
Jezzia Smith (Journalism, ’21) was the first scholarship recipient and used the funds to partially pay for three summer courses, as well as for housing in the Cal Poly Lofts, off-campus student housing in downtown San Luis Obispo.
Beyond the monetary award, the Pages provided additional support and guidance to Smith, ranging from career goal discussions to informal check-ins during the pandemic.
“The most significant impact of the scholarship was meeting Claudia and Paul. They were a support system when I didn’t have one,” Smith said. “They set me up with contacts to further my career goals through internships and podcasting, and even went on to help me with graduate school applications for business analytics. I’m not so sure they knew what they were getting into when they decided to meet with me, but I am grateful for them.”
Rayna Farkas was the 2023 graphic communication recipient and mirrors Smith’s sentiments about the Pages and the impact the scholarship has on students.
“I have always maintained multiple jobs throughout my college career to support myself while pursuing my degree. This scholarship gave me the freedom and flexibility to focus on my college education, allowing me to take additional courses and explore my creative passions,” Farkas said. “I am incredibly grateful to the Page family for their continuous efforts to support and uplift students within the graphic communication and journalism majors.”
The Buck-Page Scholarship Endowment is open for donations. Contact CLA Senior Director of Development Moon-ja Yunouye-Petz at 805-756-6776 or email@example.com to learn more about how to get involved with the College of Liberal Arts.
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