Alumni Profiles

Savor and celebrate the legacy of proud Banana Slugs who have made their mark as they've gone on to successful careers. Below we share profiles of alumni who embody the values and qualities that represent UC Santa Cruz—social justice, public service, environmental stewardship, a dedication to exploring the human condition, and a determination to change the world. And join us for Alumni Weekend next year!

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Invaluable connections through alumni networks: How three slugs came together to help one another

With the help of UCSC alumni Marcia Wall (Stevenson ‘92, English and American literature) and Frank Marquardt (Stevenson ’92, American studies), alumna Morgan Jones (Stevenson ’04, linguistics and cognitive science) was able to land her dream job in UX design.

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Stories of UCSC rugby: Leslie Riehl and Pam Krone, the first women on the team

Alumni Leslie Riehl (Cowell ’78, Mathematics) and Pam Krone (Cowell ’75) were the only women on UCSC’s rugby club in 1974, making their stand as women in the sport years before the women’s rugby club formed in 1979.

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Nearly 30 years of conservation in Santa Cruz, alumna stays connected to the university and invests in students

UCSC alumna Jodi McGraw (Rachel Carson ’94, Environmental Studies and Biology) founded her conservation consulting firm in 2001 and has since hired upwards of 15 UCSC graduates and has sponsored almost 50 UCSC interns.

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Alumnus covers breaking news in Ukraine

UCSC alumni and New York Times reporter Andrew Kramer (Cowell ’94, history) is on the ground in Ukraine, breaking news for the New York Times.

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International stages to the Quarry, alumna Terisa Siagatonu returns for dedication ceremony

UCSC alumna and award-winning poet, Terisa Siagatonu (John R. Lewis ’11, community studies), will be a keynote speaker at the John R. Lewis College dedication ceremony on May 6.

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Wisdom Cole: Paving the way for a new generation of Black leaders

National Director of the NAACP Youth & College Division and UCSC alumnus Wisdom Cole (Oakes ’15, chemistry) will be a keynote speaker at the John R. Lewis College dedication ceremony on May 6.

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Alumna’s foreign service success earns her a new post as U.S. Ambassador

Claire Pierangelo (Kresge College, History ’82) will be sworn in as Ambassador to the Republic of Madagascar and the Union of the Comoros on May 2.

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Risa Wechsler named 2022 Physical and Biological Sciences Distinguished Graduate Student Alumna

UC Santa Cruz alumna Risa Wechsler (Ph.D. Physics ’01) has played an instrumental role in groundbreaking research in the cosmology field, with pioneering galaxy structure and cosmic structure surveys, and more than 300 widely cited publications. Wechsler has also been committed to ensuring the growth of diversity and inclusion within the physics and astronomy community.

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Sarah Peelo named 2022 Social Sciences Division Distinguished Graduate Student Alumna

Sarah Peelo (Ph.D. Anthropology ’09) looked to UC Santa Cruz as an institution beaming with women in leadership. Now company president and co-owner of cultural resource management firm, Albion, Peelo is at the forefront of cultural preservation in the Bay Area.

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William Long named 2022 Arts Division Distinguished Graduate Student Alumnus

William Long’s (B.A. Music ’11, M.A. Music ’13) passion for music began when he was six years old. After receiving his B.A. and M.A. from UC Santa Cruz, Long went on to conduct for San Francisco Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis/St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera, and the London Symphony Orchestra.

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Harryette Mullen named 2022 Humanities Division Distinguished Graduate Student Alumna

The Humanities Division’s 2022 Distinguished Graduate Student Alumna, Harryette Mullen (M.A. Literature ’86, Ph.D. Literature ’90), published her first poetry book Tree Tall Women in 1981 and has since published dozens of poems, stories, books, and essays that have been published worldwide and reprinted in over one hundred anthologies.

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How mentorship and a transformative graduate experience inspired alumnus Brian Levine to build a legacy of socially responsible innovation

Baskin Engineering’s 2022 distinguished graduate student alumnus Brian Levine credits his time at UC Santa Cruz for giving him the tools to become a life-long educator and socially impactful researcher.

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Ricky Bluthenthal announced as 2022 social sciences distinguished alumni award recipient

The Social Sciences division is proud to announce trailblazing health equity researcher and advocate Ricky Bluthenthal (Merrill ’86, History and Sociology) as the recipient of the 2022 Social Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award.

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Rekindling friendships through volunteering: Pioneer alumni organize Crown’s 50th

UC Santa Cruz pioneer alumni Lisa Rose, Jim Lapsley and Susan Nerton have spent three years planning Crown College’s first-ever 50th reunion. With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing the reunion back multiple years, Rose, Lapsley and Nerton are excited to invite a five-year range of pioneer Crown alumni back to the campus they love.

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Pioneer Alumna Marion Howard Hoekenga announced 2021 Alumni Survey giveaway winner

All participants of the 2021 Alumni Survey were automatically entered into a drawing. Marion Howard Hoekenga is the winner of the giveaway.

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UCSC alumna Kira Gaber announced 2021 alumni survey getaway winner

All participants of the 2021 Alumni Survey were automatically entered into a drawing. Kira Gaber is the winner of the getaway trip to Santa Cruz with hotel accommodations at the Dream Inn.

David Schulkin (Oakes '00, psychology) is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice a

Keeping the stoke fresh

Alumnus David Schulkin, who has taught surfing to UC Santa Cruz students for more than two decades, is 'all about joy and about passing on the joy of surfing.'

David Schulkin (Oakes '00, psychology) is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice a

Sareil Brookins: The path to fearlessness

UC Santa Cruz Alumna Sareil Brookins (Stevenson ’19, Intensive Psychology and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies) grasped every opportunity that came her way during her time at UCSC. She says that being a Black and Queer womxn at UCSC pushed her to go above and beyond in everything she accomplished and encouraged her to become fearless.

David Schulkin (Oakes '00, psychology) is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice a

Mario Galdamez: Determination. Hard-Work. Perseverance.

UC Santa Cruz alumni Mario Galdamez (Merrill ’06, Politics and Latin American & Latino Studies) was born in a rural, impoverished town in El Salvador. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1993, Galdamez worked part-time jobs while in high school and was determined to pursue higher education. His time at UCSC changed his life.

David Schulkin (Oakes '00, psychology) is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice a

Danielle Dadiego named recipient of 2022 Society for American Archaeology Dissertation Award

UC Santa Cruz alumna Danielle Dadiego (M.A. Anthropology, ’17; Ph.D. Anthropology, ’20) has worked in the archeology field for nearly two decades. Her dissertation, Beads, Bullets, and Brokerage: Exploring Economic Agency in Eighteenth-Century West Florida, has been nationally recognized by the 2022 Society for American Archaeology Dissertation Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the archeology field.

David Schulkin (Oakes '00, psychology) is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice a

Marizza Delgado Leads in the Era of Multipotentialite Women

UC Santa Cruz Alumna Marizza Delgado (Rachel Carson ’21, Technology and Information Management) is a data scientist at Etsy in New York City, fashion model, and Miss Earth New York 2021. Her experiences at UCSC helped inspire Delgado to pursue all of her passions in life.

Fred Mednick (Stevenson ’76, literature), founder of Teachers Without Borders

Bridging the educational divide on a global scale

Alumnus Fred Mednick, founder of two-time Peace Prize–winning NGO Teachers Without Borders, has worked to expand worldwide educational access for over two decades.

Andy Sartori (College Nine ’13, economics) leads online meal-prep delivery service MealPro

Appetite for entrepreneurship leads alum to launch successful meal-prep business

Economics alumnus Andy Sartori, a Sacramento Business Journal 40 under 40 honoree, helps people eat with purpose.

Ally Walker

Hollywood trailblazer: Ally Walker

Oakes College alumna Ally Walker's career went from sequencing genomes to solving crimes on television

David Young

Alumnus David Young is transforming the field of AI-driven digital artwork

Baskin Engineering alumnus David Young (Crown ‘86, computer and information science) employs AI tools to create digital artwork.

Egill Bjarnason (M.A. '15,  social documentation), a native of Iceland, wrote about how th

How one tiny island influenced the world

Egill Bjarnason, journalist and Soc Doc alumnus, explains the big history of his native Iceland in a "joyously peculiar book."

Mountain lion, Chile

Wild, wild life

Alumnus Sebastian Kennerknecht cares so deeply about animals that he built a career in wildlife conservation photography to help fight for their survival.

Mountain lion, Chile

Searching for answers in the cosmos

Alumna Olivia Ross, winner of this year's prestigious Steck Award, took on the daunting quest of trying to find primordial black holes. Her faculty mentor calls this young, tireless scientist a "one-in-a-generation gem."

Mountain lion, Chile

Found in translation

Marine scientist Stacy Jupiter, the 2020 Alumni Achievement Award winner, translates science and analysis in ways that inspire people to change behaviors.

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Bearing witness to COVID at UC Santa Cruz

Stories of resilience and loss are preserved in The Empty Year: An Oral History of the Pandemic(s) of 2020 at UC Santa Cruz, an immersive project that includes a 540-page published book

Ann Starrs (Merrill '84, politics, minor economics), director of family planning at the Bi

Enabling women and girls to achieve their potential

Alumna Ann Starrs, director of family planning at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, came to reproductive health work from a steadfast commitment—strengthened by her time at UC Santa Cruz—to feminism, gender equality, and women’s empowerment.

Terri McCullough in front of a window overlooking a cityscape

Alumna Terri McCullough, chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will make a virtual campus visit for Alumni Week

This year’s Alumni Week will feature a virtual fireside chat with Terri McCullough, an Oakes '91 politics alumna who is now chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Kelvin D. Filer (Stevenson ’77, politics), a Superior Court Judge in the Southern Californ

Proud Slugs making a difference through public service

A Superior Court judge. The director of the public art program for Los Angeles. A defense attorney. They all believe in public service, and they all say their time at UC Santa Cruz changed their lives in permanent ways.

Thompson runs his own consulting business and is mentoring budding young chemists at the U

Coming full circle

Alumnus Darren Thompson, an accomplished chemist and student mentor, overcame a dark turn in his life with help from his determination, his Christian faith, and a UC Santa Cruz professor.

Thompson runs his own consulting business and is mentoring budding young chemists at the U

Stories in the ashes

Radio producer and alumna Nikki Silva teams up with photographer Shmuel Thaler to collect stories evoked by objects salvaged from the wreckage of homes destroyed in the CZU August Lightning Complex fire

Forrest Stuart smiles, standing outdoors in front of a mural

MacArthur 'genius' grant winner reflects on early influences at UC Santa Cruz

Forrest Stuart has built his career pursuing burning questions about the societal underpinnings of poverty and criminalization across disciplines. Stuart said his research focus has been influenced both by his childhood and the formative experiences of his undergraduate education at University of California, Santa Cruz, where he earned his bachelor’s in politics in 2004.

Forrest Stuart smiles, standing outdoors in front of a mural

Alumnus leads massive effort to ramp up COVID-19 testing

UC Santa Cruz alumnus Joe DeRisi is one of the leading scientists in the fight against the novel coronavirus, helming a massive effort to ramp up state-of-the-art clinical laboratory testing for COVID-19 throughout California, while pioneering large-scale testing in Bay Area communities.