State senator, alum honored by university


Mike McGuire admits that when he was attending Sonoma State University some 15 years ago, he was not particularly gifted academically.

“I was never a good student, as my mom knows,” said McGuire. “I would not be here without my Mom and Grandma. We struggled sometimes, but through thick and thin we managed.”

But it’s clear that McGuire learned a few things at Sonoma State and in the days since. He is now a state lawmaker representing the second Senate District in the state Legislature. And on Friday, he received the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Sonoma State University Alumni Association

Members of the Alumni Association say they chose McGuire based on his accomplishments, both professionally and personally, and his ability to be a leader for the next generation of students of SSU.

“[McGuire’s] leadership—outstanding leadership—pushes his pursuit for public service.  Leadership and service, those traits are very defining for Mike,” said Dan Condron, vice president for University Affairs and a member of the award selection committee.

McGuire ‘s  introduction to the local political scene came early.  At the age of 19, McGuire found himself on the Healdsburg School Board where he worked to rebuild a decaying school system.  Following his victory on the School Board, McGuire as later elected to the Healdsburg City Council where he later served as the youngest mayor in the city’s history.  As mayor, McGuire revitalized and stabilized one of the most successful economies in the region.  Much of what drives McGuire stems from his never-ending service to his local community he said.

“Mike has shown his support for his community, and the people of Sonoma State want to show support when one of our alums does amazing things after leaving this institution,” said Molly Rattigan, vice president of administration for the Sonoma State’s Alumni Association.

Prior to attending Sonoma State, McGuire attended Santa Rosa Junior College.  McGuire started off at the bottom of the community college totem pole, but worked his way through remedial

English and math classes, which eventually opened the door to Sonoma State University.  When giving his speech, McGuire became overcome with emotion reflecting on his time in college.

“I was never a good student, as my mom knows,” said McGuire. “I would not be here without my Mom and Grandma. We struggled sometimes, but through thick and thin we managed.”

According to McGuire, who was a political science major at Sonoma State, the university and the professors from the political science department really challenged his thinking, which laid the path for success.  After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in political science from Sonoma in 2002, he went on to attain a Master’s degree in public administration at San Francisco University.

“I will put the education we received here from Sonoma State up against the best universities in the nation,” said McGuire.

Aside from educational accomplishments at Sonoma State, McGuire met his wife of five years, Erika, which he holds to be the best gift Sonoma State has given him.

“I met my wife at Sonoma State,” said McGuire, “it is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Since graduating from the university, McGuire has maintained a very healthy relationship with the school.  According to the President of Sonoma State University, Ruben Armiñana, the senator comes back often and gives lectures to students.

“His relationship with the university continues and grows everyday,” said Armiñana during the presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Award. “[Distinguished alums] become models for our students.  I have to tell you, Mike, you are a wonderful model.”

Apart from the busy schedule that a senator carries, there is always space for some down time.  McGuire has played on the same softball team for a number of years now, and although the team does not boast a winning record, he claims that the real winners are the players who actually get a hit and have an opportunity to run the bases.  Apart from losing in a graceful manner, McGuire enjoys the pizza that always follows a softball game.

McGuire is third-generation Northern Californian who has stayed true to his commitment to community.  With the backbone of his mother and grandmother, McGuire worked through the community college system all the way to the four-year Sonoma State University.  During his time at Sonoma, the youthful Senator learned how to challenge himself and challenge those around him.  Sonoma State would also serve as the meeting grounds for a marriage that McGuire is thankful for.

“There are very few times in life where you can say something changed your life,” said McGuire. “This campus changed my life.  I was just shocked when I found out I would be receiving this award.”

The award was presented at a reception held in the Prive, a private ballroom that is a part of the Green Music Center. This was  followed by a concert for those who attended the private affair.  McGuire represents the 2nd Senate District which embodies the North Coast and North Bay and reaches from the Golden Gate Bridge all the way to the Oregon border.