By Gracia Hernandez Rovelo
City College of San Francisco hosted the first Rocky’s Runway Contest Show ever, held at the Chinatown Campus on December 8, 2023. The event showcased the creativity of three contestants from the Fashion department as they presented their designs for Rocky’s new outfit. The venue was adorned with balloons and school-themed decorations. Invited family members and friends were treated to a delightful food buffet and beverages while enjoying the show and Rocky as the model.
Whether it’s the eager anticipation of a freshman on their first day or the seasoned confidence of a sophomore embarking on another year, the buzz of school events at City College of San Francisco like Welcome Day, Unity Day celebrations, or Pride Parade is never complete without the lively presence of Rocky the Ram. Impossible to miss, Rocky effortlessly weaves through the crowds, sharing hugs, and filling the atmosphere with an energetic vibe. With its captivating dance moves and enthusiastic high fives, Rocky represents school spirit and identity as our Ram.
Approaching the extensive journey through the history and identity evolution of City College of San Francisco’s beloved mascot, Rocky the Ram, from its early “Jaysees” days to adopting the Rams as the official team name, Rocky’s story unfolds with the involvement of student community. Beyond animating events and online platforms, Rocky’s quest for a unique outfit sparks an exciting initiative involving fashion students. Led by Senior Management Assistant Cathy Chang and Dean Meg Hudson, this project aims to redefine Rocky’s appearance, enhancing its role in fostering school spirit and community connection at City College.
City College’s identity as the Ram comes to life at public events, and on the main online platform, Rocky the Ram is featured as technical support for the school chat, assisting users in obtaining information online and directing them to the relevant departments they need to contact. Throughout the years, City College has creatively portrayed the Ram in various personas – as the fun Rocky, the cute Rocky, and the athletic Rocky. However, the mascot’s suit has remained plain, lacking a design that identifies the school colors, often necessitating the addition of school t-shirts for representation.
In 1935, at City College of San Francisco, then called San Francisco Junior College, and with its newspaper named Emanon, sports writers informally referred to the sports teams as Jaysees. During this period, the committee overseeing the process decided to involve students in naming the newspaper and choosing an appropriate combination of colors. The Name-Color Ballot allowed students to vote on three key decisions: the team name, the selection of two school colors, and the name of the newspaper. Subsequently, City College adopted the Rams as the name of the team and The Guardsman for the newspaper.
Fast forward to the present, where the tradition of student involvement persists. Once again, the students take center stage, this time participating in the exciting venture of fashioning a distinctive outfit for the beloved mascot. This initiative aims not only to enhance the school’s image but also to provide a unique and recognizable identity for the entire community.
Senior Management Assistant of the Outreach and Recruitment Department, Cathy Chang, recalls that during an Outreach event, Rocky the Ram expressed a desire for clothing, prompting the initiation of this project. A conversation with Rocky revealed the sentiment of feeling ‘naked’ due to the lack of branding on the existing clothing, which led to the introduction of new attire featuring the City College logo. “I thought we have great talented students in the school, so we reached out to the fashion department to partner with, and the department chair was excited about the idea,” said Chang.
Meg Hudson, the Dean of Outreach and Community Partnerships, emphasizes that this is a new initiative, and the contestants were volunteers. All three participants are fashion students who were invited from different classes. Hudson notes that their involvement was driven by enjoyment, and the project demanded significant effort alongside their regular commitments. “It’s truly amazing; they worked diligently and found inspiration in this project,” said Hudson. “We hope everyone associates City College with excitement as they see Rocky the Ram in the community.”
Rocky’s Costume Contest Runway Show brought together family members, students and faculty from two different departments, unveiling a new chapter in Rocky’s life as a fashion model. The design categories included clothing, accessories, and shoes for Rocky with criteria such as flexibility, ease of use, easy care, durability, City College spirit, and branding. Three finalists, Caiyun Lei, Luis Guerrero and Sara El Olich, presented their costume designs. Evaluation criteria for the presentations included reflecting the costume’s inspirational theme, connection, relevancy, compelling nature, generativity, and providing an overview of the overall presentation.
Rocky glided through the runway, emanating energy and excitement. The outfits not only breathed life to the image the Ram needed but also met the criteria, giving Rocky a fresh and comfortable appearance. The audience cheered on Rocky and the contestants throughout the entire presentation, creating a challenging decision for the judges. The panel, comprising Geisce Ly, City College Vice Chancellor of Academic and Institutional Affairs; Melissa Dulanto, Founder and Director of San Francisco Fashion Festival; Lisa Cooper Wilkins, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs; Emma Armstrong Costume Designer at Scrap SF; and Priscilla Fong, a City College Fashion Instructor, faced the difficulty of naming winners in each category. During the award ceremony, they expressed their enjoyment of the event, the fun they had, and the challenges encountered in selecting the winners.
The first winner in the ‘Most Sustainable Design’ category was El Olich. She also secured the title for ‘Most Fun CCSF Spirit Design.’ In the category for ‘Most Inspirational Design,’ the judges acknowledged the inspiring stories of all three contestants but awarded Lei, moved to tears by her journey and impeccable presentation. Finally, the ‘Best Design and Presentation’ category was won by Guerrero. His inclusive costume design featured symbols such as hands making the “I Love You’ sign, the Ram logo, a darker skin color representing marginalized communities, and pride colors for broader inclusivity. The design focused on a unisex look with the Ram logo in the front and a design on the back showcasing City College campuses and Pan-American unity symbol by artist Diego Rivera. A special award was given to Rocky the Ram, presented by Cathy Chang, who expressed gratitude for Rocky, exclaimed, “Best Rocky Ever.”
Contestant and freshman, El Olich, shared her experience of working with Rocky during Welcome Day and throughout the contest, noting Rocky’s enthusiasm. She mentioned, “I must say, Rocky was very enthusiastic about the whole experience, and made it really fun working together,” El Olich also highlighted the potential impact of Guerrero’s design, emphasizing its focus on inclusivity and representation of marginalized communities. She expressed great joy and satisfaction, thoroughly enjoying the experience and finding it incredibly fun. Olich feels a sense of personal growth and has learned valuable lessons, appreciating the genuine spirit of community. While acknowledging a bit of stress due to the workload in recent weeks for the project, contestants ultimately find it all worthwhile and express gratitude for being part of the experience.
The organizers aim to include Rocky in every event, highlighting its important role not only within City College but in the broader community. Cathy Chang, expressing delight, mentioned, “During the College Career event, I observed Rocky doing the breakdance and it made people smile.” Chang further noted, “Rocky’s positive energy resonated well with people, fostering engagement, even with young children.”
Mia Rusali, the Dean of City College Downtown Center, School of Business, Child Development, Culinary, Fashion and Horticulture, expressed her gratitude to the audience, praising the remarkable display of talents from students, faculty, and departments. Rusali underscored that City College goes beyond being an educational institution; it serves as a platform for both professional and personal development. “It’s so inspirational,” she said, acknowledging the commitment to students and the goal of nurturing professionals capable of making meaningful contributions in their respective field. “Rocky’s consistent presence has been both inspiring and lively,” she added.
In reflecting on Rocky’s journey and transformative fashion initiative, one thing remains clear – Rocky, with its vibrant presence, has become more than just a mascot. At each event, Rocky brings joy into the atmosphere, actively supporting many events by cheering on students, dancing, and creating an animated environment. Students, faculty and the San Francisco community have all witnessed Rocky become an essential symbol of spirit and engagement at City College. Rocky’s journey exemplifies the commitment to fostering school spirit and connection. As we look ahead and now adorned in a distinctive and symbolic outfit, Rocky is ready to embrace a new chapter as a symbol of unity, identity and inclusivity at City College of San Francisco.