Everywhere I go, UCSC is making a difference

Photo of Chancellor Blumenthal with UCSC alumni and others in Watsonville

Watsonville High School senior Stephanie Barraze, second from right, will be enrolling at UCSC this fall. We were joined, left to right, by Councilmember Daniel Dodge, Watsonville High School Student Body President Itzel Carro, and Mayor Lowell Hurst.

Yesterday's whirlwind tour of Watsonville was fantastic. One thing that struck me was the number of UCSC alumni working in Watsonville and the impact they are having on students, the environment, and quality of life.

The focus of the day was water and education, and connections and partnerships were abundant. Deputy City Manager Mario Maldonaldo (BA, sociology/Latin American Studies, '96) is an alum, as is Steve Palmisano (MA, biology, '92) of the Water Department. Jackie McCloud (BS, Earth sciences, '03), a chemist with the city's water lab, is an environmental studies grad who remains engaged with campus through her work with Professor Brent Haddad on the development of a new UCSC lab course on water quality.

Water is such a critical issue for the Central Coast, and Watsonville's water department is a great partner as we work together to develop new technology and to train the next generation of water professionals. About 300 UCSC students have already gained hands-on experience through fieldwork in Watsonville, and more opportunities in water recycling, treatment, and technology are under development. Students at Pajaro Valley High School are getting involved, too, through UCSC's environmental studies-based educational outreach program SCWIBLES.

I also met incoming frosh Stephanie Barraze, a senior at Watsonville High School whose mentor Jacob Martinez (BS, ecology and evolutionary biology, '05) works for ETR Associates to encourage underserved youth to pursue higher education. Jacob met Stephanie through Watsonville's TEC (Tecnologia-Educacion-Comunidad) project, which she joined when she was in sixth grade. Stephanie just won an award from the National Center for Women in Technology. The connections don't end there, because TEC partners with our GIIP program on a summer technology program for high school students.

It's great to meet the students who are participating in these programs and to see the difference alumni are making in our lives. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The world needs more Banana Slugs. I'm glad Stephanie is joining us in September.

Comments or questions? Write to chancellor@ucsc.edu and put "Watsonville" in the subject line.