Chicanx & Latinx alumni news from UCSC
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Alumni Voices

Paco estrada

Greetings! My name is Francisco “Paco” Estrada (Merrill College ‘06) and I am a first-generation Mexican-American from Watsonville. Twelve years after I graduated from UC Santa Cruz, without ever holding public office, I was elected to the Watsonville City Council, and in my first year in office, I served as mayor.


By the time I attended my first lecture in September 2001, the political landscape across the nation had been fundamentally altered. To quote Hamilton, “The world turned upside down” and defined my time at UCSC. We were led to believe that

tradeoffs would be a necessity in the pursuit of our security. It soon became evident that the tradeoff was our civil liberties, human rights, and communities deprived of billions in funding for basic human needs.


My faith in our political system all but gone, I chose to pursue a double major in history and Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) to better understand who I was, and how I could bring about authentic and lasting change to my hometown. I admire the faculty of both programs for helping me to understand myself, my community of Watsonville, and the historical realities of our nation.  


I graduated in 2006 with a sense of hope that did not last. By 2008, the worst economic crash since the Great Depression disproportionately affected communities of color like Watsonville. As a recent graduate, resentment overtook optimism. The emergence of social media during this time altered political culture, offering a cynical young man a platform to be angry, divisive, and isolated. The consequences of my apathy became evident after the election of 2016. I had done nothing to contribute to the change I wanted to see.


Guided by the principles instilled by my UCSC professors, I chose to focus on uplifting and building community working alongside a network of passionate UCSC alums. In 2018, I ran for the Watsonville City Council. Each day I am grateful to represent the people of Watsonville and I do not take anything for granted. With the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against our unarmed African American siblings, and the events of January 6, 2021, we are reminded that we cannot take our democracy for granted. Each time I am with community, I am reminded that we must break free of systems of oppression, we must be courageous in confronting racism, violence, and injustice, and we must never forget our shared humanity.


Despite its flaws, I still love my country and my community, and it is incumbent upon me to do more and to be better if I truly seek meaningful change in this world. I encourage my fellow Banana Slugs to do the same. I am certain that each of you has the potential to build a better world because that is exactly what UC Santa Cruz prepared us to do.


Profiles in Excellence

Yesenia Jasmin De Alba

First-Gen: Yesenia Jasmin De Alba


Yesenia Jasmin De Alba (Merrill '21) is a latino studies major from Hawthorne, California. "Being the second oldest out of four children, I am the first to go to a four year university and the first to receive a bachelor’s degree." For Yesenia,  "being a Latina has taught me that you have to keep moving forward no matter what, and you can achieve your dream if you just work hard and be honest."

Antonio Velasco

Antonio Velasco: Medicine and activism


Not only did Antonio Velasco (Crown '75, Biology) go on to develop protocols for treating pesticide-poisoning victims and help write a paper detailing how organophosphate chemicals affect a critical brain enzyme, but he also played a role in the adoption of a California rule requiring that recently sprayed agricultural fields be posted with warning signs, and helped start a Salinas medical clinic that primarily served those who worked in the fields.

Reyna Grande

Alumna Reyna Grande wins Latino Spirit Award for Achievement in Literature & Advocacy


UC Santa Cruz alumna Reyna Grande (Kresge '99, creative writing, film & video) has received a 2021 Latino Spirit Award from the California Latino Legislative Caucus. Grande joins a diverse group of 10 Latino leaders from throughout California and across various professions who have been selected for the honor this year. She received her award for Achievement in Literature & Advocacy.

Career and Network Support

Navigating the hiring process as an experienced professional graphic

Navigating the hiring process as an experienced professional


Jun 22, 2021 12:00 p.m. (PDT)

This webinar is specifically designed to offer insights and strategies to help experienced professionals who may be dealing with age bias in the workplace or recruitment process. Register to join live or to receive a link to the webinar recording.

Congratulations Class of '21!

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Dear Class of 2021 Message Board


Help us wish UC Santa Cruz's Class of 2021 well as they embark upon their next journey! Post your messages of congrats, love, and hope from students, alumni, and family.

UC President michael drake

In Case You Missed It

solitary garden- visualizing abolition

Visualizing Abolition Series


This yearlong series presented by the UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with Gina Dent, associate professor, feminist studies, featured artists, activists, scholars, and others united by their commitment to the vital struggle for prison abolition. All events are recorded and available for viewing.

Alumni week art with sammy the slug

Nostalgic week for Banana Slugs


Thousands of Banana Slugs celebrated, learned, and played in an all-virtual Alumni Week, a gathering that made the most of its online format, with more than 70 live events. If you missed any part of Alumni Week, you can catch recordings of the events here.


Ways to Give Back

ask an alum

Give Advice


The UC Santa Cruz Alumni Council is spearheading a series of short videos on social media known as 'Ask an Alum', where we invite UCSC alumni to provide a short video clip with advice they would give current students and young alumni. Sign up to provide advice and/or nominate a fellow alum!

AASF graphic

Give to the Alumni Association Scholarship Fund


Alumni Association scholarships, funded by alumni like you, enable students to stay in school and give them a chance to take on new opportunities and internships that they otherwise wouldn't have as an option. Support the Alumni Association Scholarship Fund to provide crucial support for students in need.

Work at UC Santa Cruz!

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UC Santa Cruz wants to see an increase in Chicanx and Latinx representation at all levels of the university. Please consider applying, and pass along these job announcements to other Chicanx and Latinx folks in your networks. You'll find a comprehensive list of all open positions here.

Associate Director of Annual & Digital Giving, Integrated Marketing | University Relations
Application review begins on 6/17/21


Corporate Development Associate | University Relations
Application review begins on 6/14/21


Assistant Director of Facilities and Maintenance | Athletics & Recreation
Application review begins on 6/21/21

Land Acknowledgement

UC Santa Cruz is located on the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.
This newsletter was produced by the Alumni Engagement office at UC Santa Cruz. If you have suggestions for content you'd like to see featured, please contact our office at



UC Santa Cruz
1156 High St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95064


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