Updated: Mar 28, 2018
As an incoming freshman at San Diego State College in 1959, Jerry Monell got an early start on his fraternity research. “Many fraternities actually began rushing during the summer, although ΣAE wasn’t among them,” he said. “My older brother said that if I was interested in joining one I should visit various houses and keep an open mind.”
When Cal Theta eventually held its rush, Jerry made sure to attend some of the events.“A girlfriend had introduced me to Jack Goodall (CA-TH ’60) and he suggested I stop by. I saw that they were a quality group of guys and had great parties.”
Jerry was especially impressed with Cal Theta’s house, which was then located on Saranac Street in La Mesa. “I thought this 2 1⁄2 story, redwood home was just what a fraternity house should look like. At that time all pledges had to live there for a semester.”
Brother Monell enjoyed fraternity life and also became one of Cal Theta’s campus leaders. He was elected sophomore and junior class president and then president of the Associated Men’s Students. “It was a great experience that taught us leadership skills; plus all the class officers got along well,” he said.
Graduating in 1964 with a BS in Geography, Jerry served in the U.S. Navy for three years— assigned to a research vessel that took him to Iceland, Norway and other places close to and far away from home—and subsequently enrolled at Thunderbird College in Phoenix. “Two fraternity brothers had attended the school, which had a reputation for helping graduates find great jobs,” he said.
After receiving his MBA, Jerry interviewed with companies in New York and elsewhere but determined that he wanted to stay in San Diego, which coincided with a major career change. “I loved geography and history and decided to become a teacher,” he explained.
Jerry taught social studies to 7th and 8th graders at an intermediate school in El Cajon. “It was a much smaller city then and you got to know the students’ families.The community really supported the school.”
In 1986 Jerry did some substitute teaching for Juvenile Hall in San Diego and eventually was asked to teach full time. Of course, this was a much different teaching experience than he was used to. “Many of the ‘students’ had already dropped out of regular school.You always had a different group of kids in the class, as they were in the process of moving on to different facilities. So you had to figure out ways to keep their attention.”
One of the techniques Jerry used to maintain the Juvenile Hall students’ interest was to teach about the Holocaust as a way to highlight how others had faced severe life challenges. “I would have a Holocaust/camp survivor speak to the class about the horrific conditions. This definitely kept their attention for an hour. I loved teaching there because every day was different.”
Jerry retired in 2003 but didn’t remain idle for long. He and a cousin did some home remodeling and he also bought and sold Porsches for a few years. In addition, he continues to maintain and manage the Mission Beach rental property that he has owned since 1980.“I have been renting the house to European students during the school year and to vacationers from Arizona in the summer months.”
Recently recovered from hip replacement surgery, Jerry also enjoys traveling with his wife Germaine, and playing paddle ball.
A long-time Century Club member, he is a regular at San Diego Alumni Association activities. “It’s such a great group of Brothers and I look forward to Founders’ Day, the luncheons and other events. I am grateful to have joined ΣAE and been able to stay in touch with so many good friends.”
~ By David Robinson