The College of Social Sciences always enjoys welcoming alumni back to campus and showing them what’s new within the College, as well as having them meet and speak with students who are currently studying their field of work. Last week the college had the opportunity to do just that with alumnus Bob Braitman, City & Regional Planning students, and the Jewish Studies Program.
Bob Braitman graduated from Fresno State in 1968 with a degree in Political Science — it’s also here that Braitman met his wife, Mary Everett. Mary lived in Baker Hall, at that time a women’s dorm. Braitman who was Head Yell Leader attended a meeting to encourage the residents to attend home football games.
He must have made quite an impression on the ladies of Baker Hall, because shortly afterward they selected him to be the Baker Hall Beau (the equivalent of a dorm sweetheart). Mary, who was the President of Baker Hall, was designated to drive Braitman to have his photograph (above) taken so it could be hung above the sign-in desk.
“The rest,” Braitman said “is history.” They married in Dinuba, CA six months after meeting. The two went on to have a daughter and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.
During his time at the University, he served as Vice President of the Associated Students and held internships with the County of Fresno Administrative Office and with the City of Fresno Redevelopment Agency, all which led him to the career path he ultimately chose.
After graduating, Bob began his public service career as an administrative analyst in the Ventura County Administrative Office. He worked there for 24 years providing budget review and administrative analysis. For 18 years of those 24 years, Bob served as Executive Officer for the Ventura Local Agency Formation Commission (often called LAFCO), a public agency created to plan and regulate local government boundaries and services.
Upon leaving Ventura County, Bob formed Braitman & Associates which serves both public and private clients throughout California providing services by local agencies, fiscal analysis, and jurisdictional relations.
During his recent visit to Fresno State, Braitman had lunch with some City and Regional Planning students, sharing his extensive knowledge and insight into the field. The students talked with Braitman about his career, asked advice about going into the field, and he shared general tips on how to be prepared for what life would send their way.
After lunch, several students thanked Braitman for taking the time to speak with them and mentioned what a great time they’d had.
“It was really comforting hearing from someone who has been exactly where we are all at currently. So much of the college experience is spent trying to figure out the years ahead and Mr. Braitman’s words about pursuing something we love, no matter what that may be was very reassuring,” said Nick Martinez, of the City and Regional Planning students, “He opened my eyes to an entirely different world associated with Planning that I had little knowledge of.”
But it wasn’t just the students who felt like they walked away with a great experience.
“This was very enjoyable for me. It was nice to meet students who are the future of our country. They’re all intelligent, all interested in what I was saying, I think, for their own careers,” Braitman said.
To wrap up his visit to the University, Braitman who is a practicing Jew, attended the first ever campus Shabbat dinner hosted by the Jewish Studies Program. On Friday night, family and friends gather for a meal to welcome the Sabbath. Sharing a meal is a ritual that transcends many cultures, and last Friday night many in attendance learned more about how it fits into the Jewish culture. The meal begins by lighting candles, followed by wine and challah, the braided bread that is baked and eaten for Shabbat.
Mary was asked to light the candles, an honor usually bestowed to the woman of the house. She then asked all the women in attendance to stand with her as she lit the candles.
The Braitman’s met community leaders including Rabbis Rick and Laura Winer of Fresno’s Temple Beth Israel, President Joseph Castro and Mrs.Mary Castro, U.S. Representative Jim Costa, members of the President’s Jewish Leadership Council, Jewish Studies faculty, students and alumni, and members of Fresno’s Jewish community.
Dr. Jill Fields, founder and director of the Jewish Studies program, said “Celebrating Shabbat on campus is an act of inclusiveness, and means of sharing of Jewish traditions with the wider community. Our Shabbat dinner encourages Jewish students, faculty, staff and Jewish community members to feel welcome on campus, and provides non-Jews an opportunity to learn about Jewish culture.”
“I was most favorably impressed by the fact the Jewish Studies program was being recognized and honored in this way,” Braitman said. ‘Having a Friday night dinner attended by the President of the University and his family, the local Rabbi and his wife, relevant members of the faculty and students enrolled in the program was all very positive. I was honored that my wife Mary was called upon to light the Shabbat candles and that she called other women who were present to join her,”