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  • Diane Distefano

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  • Diane Distefano

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Alumni Day of Service at Zamorano Fine Arts Academy. Photos by Lily Tang/UC San Diego Publications

Alumni Champion UC San Diego’s Nontradition

UC San Diego is not in this fundraising campaign alone. There are 100 volunteers serving on the Campaign Cabinet—more than half of whom are alumni—who are committed to UC San Diego’s success. Their generosity, leadership and advocacy is bringing an excitement and energy to the Campaign that’s catching on.

“As alumni, we need to shout our accomplishments from the rooftops because people don’t know how good we are,” said alumnus Ken Kroner, who is chairing the Campaign’s International Leadership Committee. “When we are having conversations with friends, the media, or potential students, we need to talk about how great a university UC San Diego is. And that will lead to donations that will have a financial impact. And everything else is going to fall into place from there.”

UC San Diego alumnus Milana Vayntrub

Actress and global refugee crisis advocate Milana Vayntrub, ’08, was the keynote speaker at the Triton Leadership Conference

This enthusiasm extends well beyond the Campaign Cabinet. More than 1,600 alumni and friends celebrated UC San Diego’s nontradition at campaign launch events last year. Earlier this month, the campus honored alumni volunteers and leaders at True Triton Weekend.

Held March 10-11, True Triton Weekend combined three inspiring alumni events into an exciting two-day celebration of alumni service and community advocacy. It kicked off with “Tritons Inspired,” the first-ever Triton Leadership Conference, followed by the True Triton Celebration luncheon. On the final day, alumni, staff and community volunteers donned jeans and team T-shirts for a Day of Service at Zamorano Fine Arts Academy.

Designed to provide UC San Diego volunteer leaders with an opportunity to connect and become inspired, Saturday’s Triton Leadership Conference drew 100 alumni, students, faculty, staff and campus leaders. Actress and global refugee crisis advocate Milana Vayntrub ’08 headlined the event as keynote speaker. The founder of #CantDoNothing offered an engaging presentation about her work helping Syrian refugees and how we share a global responsibility to make the world a better place. Afterward, panel sessions were led by alumni volunteer leaders and featured topics on volunteerism, leadership and innovation, among others. The final panel was led entirely by women (3rd, 4th and 5th-year students), who talked about their campus experiences, academic careers and experiential learning activities with which they’ve been involved. By the end of the conference, guests left feeling empowered about service for their campus, community and beyond.

UC San Diego True Triton awardees

Alumni Sue and Steve Hart were honored at the True Triton Celebration for their wide-ranging support across campus. From left to right: Steve Hart, Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, Sue Hart and Alumni board member Jerri Malana.

Following the conference, 160 guests attended the True Triton Celebration, an annual event honoring dedicated alumni volunteers for their extraordinary commitment to UC San Diego. The award program was emceed by Alumni board member and 2017 True Triton honoree Jerri Malana '86, with Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla presenting the awards to three deserving recipients. Otis Watson ’76 was recognized for his years of dedicated, enthusiastic and inclusive volunteer leadership for UC San Diego. Watson’s moving acceptance speech touched on how he’s been inspired to support the Silicon Valley regional alumni club and scholarships for underrepresented students. He emphasized the gifts of time, talent and treasure and inspired others to give back the best they can. Honorees Sue Hart, Ph.D. ’86 and Steve Hart, M.A. ’80 were lauded for their wide-ranging support and enthusiasm across campus, from the Jacobs School of Engineering to the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Imagination. Students continue to serve as the Harts’ inspiration. Even as they accepted their awards, the Harts celebrated the four young women who moderated the student panel earlier that day.

UC San Diego True Triton weekend at Zamonrano Fine Arts Academy

Alumni volunteers paint a map of the United States in the lunch area at Zamorano Fine Arts Academy.

True Triton Weekend wrapped up on Sunday with a Day of Service at Zamorano Fine Arts Academy, a K-5 magnet school with a focus on art, music and technology. Despite a wet weekend, the sun poked through the clouds as 180 volunteers (alumni, students, parents and community members), joined together for a campus beautification project. Planter boxes were repaired and filled with greenery. Campus grounds were weeded and cleaned up, while several large-scale painting projects were tackled, including a colorful, oversized map of the U.S. in the outdoor lunch area.

The annual Day of Service is UC San Diego Alumni's largest volunteer service event of the year. Over the past five years, Triton volunteers have participated in transforming the campuses of Bayside, Ross, Oneonta and Avondale elementary schools. Changemaking at its best!

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