Cambus to host alumni reunion during homecoming week

The organization is inviting former workers and UI community members to come and celebrate 50 years since its creation.


Grace Smith

Senior Lauren Pearson opens Cambus doors for students at the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Cambus, the UI’s transportation system, celebrates 50 years of operation this year. Pearson got hired at the beginning of August and said the job is very flexible with her schedule as on the rowing team. “It’s been really fun,” Pearson said. “It’s one of the better jobs on campus because it’s so flexible and you can pick up shifts whenever.”

Kate Perez, News Editor

As University of Iowa 2022 homecoming activities begin across campus, a specific group of alumni is returning to Iowa City: former Cambus employees.

On Oct. 28, Cambus will host its Celebration and Alumni Reunion in honor of homecoming week and its 50th anniversary. Cambus Operations Manager, Mia Brunelli, said the event has been in the works for over a year.

“We sent out surveys to campus alumni just to try to figure out what the interest level would be … I think we got over 100 responses of people who said they would definitely make plans to travel if this event was happening,” Brunelli said.

This last summer, a planning committee was created to help find the contact information of Cambus alumni, she said. Currently, there are an estimated 250 guests who are coming to the event, made up of both Cambus alumni and UI community members.

The event will include featured speakers, social activities, prizes, a photo booth, light refreshments, and tours for alumni.

“A lot of the people who have responded to our surveys indicated they’d be bringing spouses … and bringing their kids,” Brunelli said. “Kids love buses and stuff like that, so it is a nice family-friendly event as well.”

Brunelli said, the reunion was overdue — after years of dicussion about Cambus alumni gatherings — and homecoming presented the perfect opportunity for the get-together.

“Cambus was such a big part of a lot of student’s college experience, so we know that people hold their experience with Cambus very near and dear to their heart,” Brunelli said. “And even today, I still hear from alumni who say it’s such a great experience, one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.”

April Wells, UI Parking and Transportation communications manager, said the event planning allowed Cambus staff to have a more complete history of the organization.

“We now have a wonderful document that includes information about how our fleet has changed over time or how our facilities have changed over time, and so it’s been a really great resource for us going forward and to just really document that 50 years of student efforts that made the university Cambus system what it is,” Wells said.

Brunelli said the event was originally just going to be for alumni, but the staff decided to open it up to the public during its creation so everyone can celebrate Cambus and the student workers.

For UI alum Danae Ziggafoos who worked for Cambus from 2009-2014, the job was an essential part of her college experience.

“I started at Cambus after my first semester and worked there until I graduated,” Ziggafoos wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan. “I started out as an operator and moved my way up — Bionic operator, Bionic assistant, dispatcher, and my final position before I left was Dispatch and Bionic Supervisor.”

Ziggafoos wrote she plans to attend the alumni event later this week.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” she wrote. “I’ve been looking forward to it for months.”

Working at Cambus gave Ziggafoos a way to support herself during her college years.

“It allowed me to make money to cover most of my living expenses, so I didn’t have to take out additional student loans,” she wrote. “The flexible scheduling made it easy to work around my class load.”

Along with helping with her finances, Ziggafoos was able to meet people she is still friends with today. Additionally, her time at Cambus helped prepare her for life after graduation.

Ziggafoos now works as a maintenance supervisor for the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, which she wrote was only possible because of her experiences at Cambus.

“I was able to join DART and hit the ground running, taking over my own shift in two weeks and earning a big promotion within two years,” she wrote. “I also love when I run into someone else that worked at Cambus, which happens occasionally since I work in transit.”

Overall, Ziggafoos wrote her time at Cambus continues to positively impact her life nearly a decade after she left the UI.

“I feel like I also graduated with a degree in campus transportation,” she wrote.