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Alumni Weekend 2010


UC San Diego Alumni Return to Campus for Annual Alumni Weekend 
Graduates enjoyed a reunion weekend featuring campus events and programs for entire family

The UCSD Alumni Association’s recent Alumni Weekend brought graduates from all years back to campus to enjoy opportunities to connect and re-engage with their alma mater. A variety of activities included a family-friendly night at the Birch Aquarium, the annual Alumni Awards for Excellence celebration, an inaugural alumni surfing invitational, as well as reunions and receptions with faculty. Held June 3-6, Alumni Weekend guests also saw what’s new at UC San Diego, visited with former classmates and heard faculty discuss their latest projects and current research. 
The second annual Alumni Weekend attracted more than 1,550 alumni, families, and friends and helped to raise more than $50,000 to support student scholarships.

“We’re excited to see that the new tradition is taking hold in the alumni community,” said Armin Afsahi, ’90, UCSD Alumni Association executive director. “A growing number of alumni are coming back to campus for this alumni event. The weekend was filled with heartwarming stories and it’s evident that our graduates see value in the connection to their alma mater. “

The weekend kicked off Thursday night, June 3, with “Inspiring Minds: A Special Evening with UCSD Faculty” at the Ida and Cecil Green Faculty Club. Faculty mingled with alumni at an intimate reception, meeting former students and sharing information about their research. Participants included Terrence August, assistant professor of innovation, technology and operations, Rady School of Management; Raffi Arojan, professor of cell and developmental biology, Biological Sciences; Seth Leher, Dean of Arts and Humanities; Sam Popkin, professor of political science, Social Sciences; and Michael Sailor, professor of chemistry and biochemistry with dual appointments in Physical Sciences and Jacobs School of Engineering.

On Friday, June 4, over 350 alumni, friends and “future Tritons” enjoyed exclusive after-hours access to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, complete with docent-led tours, a kelp tank diver show, music by Akayaa and Bolga Zohdoomah, and educational activities for the entire family. 

“This was my second year attending the Alumni and Family Night at the Birch Aquarium and I simply love it,” said Cherie Wall, ’95. “What's not to love about an aquarium, friends, family, good food, drinks and music—all overlooking La Jolla on a Friday in June? I look forward to attending for many years to come.” 

The UCSD Alumni Association presented its inaugural Outstanding Young Alumni Award on Saturday, June 5 during the Alumni Weekend Brunch. Guests enjoyed a Dr. Seuss-inspired event with a Green Eggs and Ham menu, as well as performances by M.F.A. students and players from Muir Musical’s “Seussical the Musical.” The inaugural recipients of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award were Lee Martin III, ’99, and Melody Gonzales, ’02.

That evening, 300 alumni and friends gathered for the 32nd Annual Alumni Awards for Excellence honoring outstanding alumni and faculty for their exceptional leadership, notable accomplishments and outstanding service.

This year’s Awards for Excellence honorees included:
  • Bun-Ching Lam, Ph.D. ’81, Outstanding Alumna of the Year, internationally recognized and award-winning conductor, composer and musician;
  • LaVerne Ragster, Ph.D. ’80, Professional Achievement, conservationist, research scientist and education administrator;
  • Thom Sherman, ’88, Distinguished Service, television producer and entertainment executive;
  • Sam Popkin, Ph.D., Distinguished Teaching, UC San Diego professor of political science.

“The recipients of this year’s Awards for Excellence reflect our world-class alumni community, made up of those on the forefront of the sciences, business, medicine, the arts and public service,” said event chair Pam Palisoul, ’72.  

Previous recipients of the Awards for Excellence have included: Khaled Hosseini, M.D. ’93, physician and best-selling author of The Kite Runner; Marcia McNutt, Ph.D. ’78, director of the United States Geological Survey; and  J. Craig Venter, ’72, Ph.D. ’75 world-renowned genomic scientist and recipient of the 2009 National Medal of Science, among many others. 

The Awards for Excellence celebration raised more than $50,000 for the Invent the Future: The UC San Diego Student Support Campaign.  The annual event is the UCSD Alumni Association’s primary fundraising effort to raise critically needed funds for UCSD students.  

The weekend concluded with the first-ever Beach Party and Alumni Surfing Invitational at Black’s Beach.  Over 175 alumni attended, including legendary UCSD surfers Holly Beck, ’01, and Evan Slater, ’94, competing to win the Paul Saltman Trophy, named in honor of the legendary UCSD professor and member of the local surfing community.  The competition included 16 four-person alumni teams and the first heat began at 7 a.m.  The winning team, “UCSD Fly-bys” included Dylan Jones, '01, Theo Fedoruk, '03, Clinton Edwards, '08, and Garth Engelhorn, '03. 

UCSD alumnus Gerry Kantor, ’76, owner of Leucadia Surf School, offered free surf lessons while sand castle builders and spectators enjoyed a locally grown picnic lunch and browsed merchandise from local surf companies, including the alumni-owned surf school and apparel store, Surf Divas.

It’s time for alumni to mark their calendars now for UCSD’s 50th Anniversary events beginning this fall: UC San Diego Celebrate 50 kick-off dinner, November 13, 2010; Founders’ Day Celebration, November 18, 2010; UC San Diego IDEaS (Innovation Day Expo and Symposia), February 25, 2011; Sustainability Celebration: Green Open House, April 16, 2011; and Alumni Weekend, June 17-19, 2011.

The Bud Whipple Endowed Memorial Scholarship recognizes a medical student who, despite personal adversity, has demonstrated an unselfish commitment to others and has displayed exceptional human kindness to their colleagues and patients. The recipient of the 2012 Bud Whipple Scholarship has been awarded to Karen Levy. “Karen is one student whose life story speaks to the power of strength, resilience, and perseverance,” says Lindia Willes-Jacobo, assistant dean for diversity and community partnerships, and professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine. She adds, “Karen is hardworking and determined, and has excelled at all levels of her training.”

In addition to her studies, Levy is involved with the Student-Run Free Clinic, where she facilitates access to no-cost primary care and services to patients who would have no other way of accessing healthcare. “She is steadfast in her commitment to giving back to underserved communities,” says Jacobo.

More about Bud Whipple Endowed Memorial Scholarship
In 1979, Albert “Bud” Whipple, then a third-year medical student at UC San Diego, died suddenly from complications of Marfan Syndrome, a rare heart disorder. To honor his memory, and to help other students like Bud, several members of the Class of 1981, including Jim Rice, ’77, M.D. ’81; Murray Reicher, M.D. ’81; Danielle Reicher, ’77, M.D. ’81; and Frank Longo, ’77, M.D. ’81, Ph.D. ’83, established an endowed scholarship in his honor – the first of its kind at the School of Medicine.