The UCSB Alumni Associaton will host several distinguished Gaucho graduates including 35th District Assemblymember Das Williams and State Senator Sam Blakesly at the Mosher Alumni House tonight from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Alumni in Government Panel aims to provide students seeking careers in political relations a casual setting to meet panelists, ask questions and receive tips and advice on political action. Other alumni speakers will include Undersheriff Jim Peterson, Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf, First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Green Dot Public Schools founder and Rock the Vote Campaign co-founder Steve Barr and Goleta Assistant City Planner Shine Ling.

Student Philanthropy Coordinator Alyssa Benavidez, a fourth-year political science major, said the panel offers students the unique possibility to personally connect with renowned public policy figures.

“The number-one purpose of panels is not only to give advice but to network,” Benavidez said. “We call it a panel discussion because it’s an open dialogue. After light refreshments [students and alumni] get to mingle and get internships or advice.”

Although these elbow-rubbing opportunities will particularly appeal to those looking toward the public sector, first-year political science major Patrick Gudmundson said the event will be a great way for all students to disseminate helpful information from the panel and follow in experienced politicians’ footsteps despite the current and future financial hurdles the 10-campus UC system faces.

“The people [on the panel] have been in the same position you’re in now,” Gudmundson said. “Regardless of what major you are, it’ll be interesting just to see where they are now.”

Gudmundson said the event also has the potential to spark productive dialogue regarding current issues and controversies within the county, such as the recent Occupy Wall Street protests.

In addition to alumni connections, the event aims to provide current students with personal pointers on county-related issues. Vanessa Ramos, a first-year political science and anthropology major, said she plans to seek out advice regarding her nonprofit organization, Help Make a Change, which advocates for social justice.

“I want to learn about law and see what I can and can’t do with the nonprofit organization I founded, Help MAC,” Ramos said. “I want to eventually work for the United Nations, in the Human Rights Council.”