Thousands of students, families explore CSUMB on Admitted Otter Day

Admitted Otter Day

Campus tour leaders were a big part of Admitted Otter Day, welcoming guests and showing them the campus. | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

April 6, 2024

Luz Martinez was pretty sure Cal State Monterey Bay was going to be her school. 

“I think I just really wanted to be an Otter,” Martinez said on Saturday, after signing her commitment to attend the university this fall. “I’m excited and a little nervous. It’s a new adventure.”

Martinez was one of thousands of people – prospective students and their families – who toured dorm rooms, watched lab demonstrations, listened to lectures, danced to music, played games, sampled foods and met with advisors, financial counselors, faculty and other students as part of Admitted Otter Day.  

It was Martinez’ first in-person visit to the campus and it lived up to her expectations. 

“It made me feel like I belong here,” she said. “The people here are so nice and friendly. I got to talk to the president (Vanya Quiñones). She’s very nice. I like her spirit.”

Martinez’ only concern was not knowing anyone on campus. She was hoping a friend of hers, who was also in attendance, would make the move and confirm that she too would attend in the fall.

Admitted Otter Day is a chance for such students, who have received admission confirmation letters, to visit the campus and decide if CSUMB is a good fit for them. More than 4,000 students and their family members registered for this year’s event, a 30% increase over last year. For the first time, the day was divided into a morning and an afternoon session. 

CSUMB President Vanya Quiñones welcomed the students attending each session. 

“I am so excited to be here with all of you students, your friends, family members and supporters, to celebrate a big step in your educational journey,” Quiñones said to a ballroom packed with over 600 people. “I hope that as you visit us today you will see how our beautiful campus is a great place to find your strength and find your people.

“We strive to create a supportive, inclusive environment for all of you, no matter what your life experience and background,” she added. “Here, you will find fun ways to connect with your peers, alumni, faculty and staff.”

Quiñones told the group that part of CSUMB’s mission is to create community, known on campus as the Otter raft. The university’s mascot, she said, is a perfect example of this. For safety, sea otters will link arms at night or in rough weather to form a “raft” that helps keep them together.

“Now I want to invite you all to stand together, lock your arms, and raft up,” Quiñones said after encouraging the crowd to get to its feet. “Students, you are part of our Otter raft now, and we are stronger together.”

Ihuoma Okam came from Sacramento with her husband and her son, Chigozie. As a parent, she said, the strong community at CSUMB was an important factor. 

“We love it that it’s a smaller population and students have easy access to the professors,” Okam said. “You’ve got big campuses where a person might get lost, so the (community) support is very important to us.”

Chigozie, who plans to study computer science, said he was impressed by a lecture he and his parents attended.

“They were talking about the computer program and how they use AI in their work,” Chigozie said, adding that it was a good complement to the other things he’d experienced. “I like the area and I like how the campus is small.”

In previous years, prospective freshmen and transfer students were invited to the campus on the same day. This year, transfer students will come on a separate date. Admitted Transfer Day. is April 27. The change allows for more focus on the different needs of the two groups.

In her address, Quiñones encouraged students and their families to explore the CSUMB environment. 

“I hope that as you visit us today, you will see how our beautiful campus is a great place

to find your strength and find your people,” she said. “You will create your own

strong Otter raft at Cal State Monterey Bay.”

For newly committed student Martinez, she learned she already has at least one person to raft up with. As she was leaving the orientation registration session, she noticed her friend, Destiny Lomeli at a neighboring table, signing a commitment agreement. The women said they were excited about attending CSUMB together. 

Lomeli said she decided the campus had the right feel for her.

“I think it was the community and the way they accept everybody,” she said, addressing what swayed her. “It made me feel welcome.”