Distinguished Alumni Award



Thomas Killion - 

Thomas Killion (Cowell '75, History) is an artist who focuses on intricate woodcut prints that captures scenes of rugged beauty. Raised at the foot of Mount Tamalpais and inspired by Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuiji, Killion's first woodcut prints were of the peak of Mount Tam. During his time at UC Santa Cruz, Killion studied fine bookmaking, using the Cowell Press to craft his first book using Mount Tam prints.

Killion got his doctorate in African history from Stanford, and worked in Ethiopian refugee camps along with traveling with rebels in war-torn Eritrea. Over the years, Killion has created many prints along with six books. His most recent volume is California's Wild Edge

Thomas Killion is the first recipient of our Distinguished Alumni Award, and we are thrilled to celebrate his creativity, success and passion. 


Adilah Barnes - 

Adilah Barnes (Cowell '72, Individual Major) is the Co-Founder, President, and Executive Producer of Los Angeles Women's Theater Festival which is an annual multicultural solo festival. Barnes is an award-winning actor with over 50 years of film, television, and stage experience. She has toured 40 states and 3 continents. Her first book, On My Own Terms, ranked #3 in June 2009 on Essence magazine's best-seller list. Barnes was UC Santa Cruz's Most Influential Alumni in 2010 and she received the Winona Fletcher Award for Outstanding Achievement and Artistic Excellence in Theatre. She is also the first African American woman inducted into the Hall of Fame in her hometown of Oroville, CA. 

We are proud of all of Barnes' prestigious honors and outstanding achievements since her days at UC Santa Cruz, and feel that she exemplifies UC Santa Cruz values through her work and life. 


Gabriel Zimmerman - 

Gabriel Zimmerman (Stevenson '02, Sociology) was U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords' community outreach director. In that role, he organized the "Congress on Your Corner" event in January, 2011 where he and four others were killed in a shooting that also wounded 13 - including Giffords.  

Zimmerman had an uncanny ability to connect with his fellow human beings, and had a profound impact on all of those who knew him. He was dedicated to take action in pursuit of societal truths. As Zimmerman wrote in a college essay, "It is my passion to see systemic change... to cause change in systems that are unnecessarily hurtful." In the weeks after the 2011 shooting, the Gabriel Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship was established by UC Santa Cruz graduates, Jonathan Klein (Merrill, '89) and Alex Clemens (Porter, '89). The scholarship honors Zimmerman's legacy by supporting undergraduates who have demonstrated a commitment to public service.

We are honored to remember Zimmerman's passion and bravery with the Distinguished Alumni Award.