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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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Rick Dryer (’68, ’72) Rick Dryer (’68, ’72)

Mountain Man

An SDSU alumnus hikes Mount San Jacinto as a fundraiser for SDSU’s College of Education.
By Tobin Vaughn

“The positive impact he had on his students will continue through his support of the next generation of classroom teachers who will similarly impact their students.”

On Saturday, June 16, Rick Dryer (’68, ’72) will achieve a goal he has been working toward for 35 years: He will hike to the 10,800-foot summit of Southern California’s Mount San Jacinto for the 100th time.

He won’t be walking alone. To mark the achievement, the 74-year-old will be accompanied on his trek by more than 30 friends and fellow hikers, some from as far away as the Netherlands.

It will be an anniversary hike of sorts, marking both his golden wedding anniversary, which occurs a week later, and the 50th year since his graduation from San Diego State University. Dryer is using the 13-mile, seven-and-a-half-to-eight-hour hike as a scholarship fundraiser for SDSU’s College of Education to commemorate his own experience at the university.

“It was a fabulous experience,” he said. “I wish what I had (at SDSU) on every student who goes through there.”

An awakening

What Dryer had at SDSU he now refers to as “an awakening.” In the mid-1960s, he was a political science major certain he was bound for law school. Athletically inclined, he ran on the Aztec cross country team and enjoyed scuba diving.

One day a neighbor, who was an elementary school teacher, asked Dryer if he would wear his wetsuit and bring some items from a dive to speak with a class about oceanography. Dryer said yes, “and I spent the whole day at his school where I fell in love,” he recalled.

“I said, ‘Why am I going to law school? I love teaching.’” He thought he could be “an impact player” at the elementary level, so he concurrently worked on a master’s degree and teaching credential, then began a 35-year career with the San Diego Unified School District.

“I was on my way to law school, and then I wind up becoming a teacher. That’s what education does for you; it exposes new avenues to you that you may never have seen or thought of originally. My whole experience at SDSU was like that.”

A positive impact

That’s why, in addition to raising contributions through his hike, Dryer has made a planned gift to establish a permanently endowed scholarship fund for the College of Education. “My goal is to provide scholarships for people who are the first in their families to go to college,” he explained.

“We greatly appreciate Mr. Dryer’s generosity in donating and raising scholarship funding for our students who are preparing to be teachers,” said Nadine Bezuk, associate dean and the Qualcomm Endowed Professor of Mathematics Education. “The positive impact he had on his students will continue through his support of the next generation of classroom teachers who will similarly impact their students.”

Always in red and black

Dryer will also remember SDSU in a different way during his milestone hike—by designing a special black patch with red lettering that reads “Mt. San Jacinto” along with the date. Friends accompanying him on his hike will each receive one as a memento.

He also plans to wear an SDSU shirt that day. “I am always in red and black,” he noted, but only partly as a sign of school loyalty.

“If you fall down in the snow they’re not going to see you if you don’t have something bright on. The red resonates with the search and rescue people,” he explained.

An absolute joy

Dryer doesn’t dwell on the potential downsides of an activity that has brought him so much enjoyment and introduced him to so many interesting people and places throughout the years. “It’s the contact with nature,” he explained. “People really underestimate the happiness of that.”

So he continues, after four knee surgeries, to hike around the globe, having visited eight World Heritage sites so far. “These are wonders,” he said. “It’s an absolute joy to visit them.”

If he is able, Dryer reckons, he will hike until the moment he draws his last breath. “And if I should go on the mountain,” he said, “I will be in heaven.”

You can help commemorate Rick Dryer’s 100th Summit of Mount San Jacinto by making a donation to the College of Education’s scholarship fund at SDSU STRIVE.