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Keeping the Dream Alive

A group of UC San Diego students hold a large banner depicting Martin Luther King Jr. as they march in the parade downtown.
For more than two decades, UC San Diego has honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by hosting a day of service at a local school and gathering Tritons for an annual city-wide parade, this year themed, “Keeping the Dream Alive, We’re Better Together.” Photos by Erik Jepsen/University Communications.

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A little bit of water falling from the sky didn’t deter members of the UC San Diego community from gathering to recognize one of history’s most influential civil rights leaders—Martin Luther King Jr. Born Jan. 15, 1929, King was a Baptist minister and activist who promoted change through peaceful protest and key values such as unity, selflessness, hope and love. Two annual events were organized by the Center for Student Involvement, a day to serve and a day to celebrate.

On Saturday, more than 200 UC San Diego students, staff and alumni volunteers assembled at Mission Bay High School to volunteer their time and talents. Participants painted a portrait of the late associate justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg, helped create the foundation for a sensory garden that will serve students with disabilities, built hydroponic plant systems in the science lab and fanned out across the school to search for debris that could be collected.

The following morning, four buses of UC San Diego scholar-athletes, cheerleaders, Pep Band performers and more caravanned to downtown San Diego to join in the 41st annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade. After being on hiatus for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event resumed at the Embarcadero with vigor—even as rain clouds hovered precariously above. Students, staff and faculty cheered as they marched alongside the university’s float, waving bright yellow flags and passing out souvenirs to spectators.

See the impact Tritons made at Mission Bay High School and get a glimpse of the energy from this year’s parade in the photos below.

More than 200 students, staff and alumni from UC San Diego pose together in the cafeteria at Mission Bay High School on the day of service.
UC San Diego’s Day of Service first began in 2002 as a way to give back. This is the third year that the university has focused efforts at Mission Bay High School. More than 200 students, staff, alumni and community members dedicated their time during the event. Beyond this weekend’s efforts, undergraduate and graduate students regularly serve as tutors through the school’s ACES Program (After School Center for Excellence and Support). 
Two students sit on a scaffold holding paint brushes as they work on a mural depicting the late supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
On the east wall of the Mission Bay High School cafeteria, visitors will see monochrome murals of Martin Luther King Jr. and Dolores Huerta, both painted during previous UC San Diego Day of Service events. This year a third mural was created to honor the late associate justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose work reflects one of the school’s key values—principle. “Our goal is to fill our cafeteria with diverse citizens who have impacted society,” shared Heather Henkes, Mission Bay High School art teacher.
Two UC San Diego students who are part of the Sigma Kappa sorority dust book shelves at Mission Bay High School during the day of service.
Over 50 members of UC San Diego’s sorority Sigma Kappa—whose key mission is to “live a life of purpose”—took part in the Day of Service. Hanna Medina (first from right) and Ayla Berenji (second from right) were part of the team that re-organized books in the library and dusted shelves. “I like it because I feel like I’m doing something valuable with my time,” shared Medina. Berenji echoed her sentiments, “Giving back puts a smile on my face, knowing that I’m helping my community.”
Three students use shovels to move around mulch that surrounds a sensory garden designed for students with disabilities.
Though still experiencing jetlag after flying over 5,000 miles from her home country of Norway to study at UC San Diego this quarter, Nora Jungeilges Heyerdahl jumped at the chance to take part in the day of service. “I feel like when you go to a new place, it’s nice to go to community events or explore the occasions when people get together to create something rather than just go to the touristy places because you learn a lot…” she said. The garden where she contributed is designed as a space to engage the senses of students with disabilities, featuring raised planter beds that can be accessed by mobility devices and elements like wind chimes. The space is being named in honor of Mission Bay alumna Alix Morris.
A UC San Diego staff member holds a bucket of plants that were pulled from the ground to clear space for students with wheelchairs to enter the garden.
The day of service was one of several opportunities that students, staff, faculty and alumni could join as part of UC San Diego’s Changemaker Week, which demonstrates our campus’s long tradition of fostering innovation that contributes to the greater good. 
A group of students smile and wave small yellow pennants from the UC San Diego float in the Martin Luther King Jr Parade.
On Sunday, over 200 students, staff, faculty and alumni gathered at San Diego’s Embarcadero for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. Student leaders from the colleges and Associated Students traveled on the university’s float, including AS President Sky Yang. “I think for this generation we’re at a unique position as Gen Z,” Yang told ABC 10 News during the parade. “We support the fight for equality, we support the fight for racial justice, for environmental justice, for these different ways that we can contribute as the youth of tomorrow.”
UC San Diego's mascot King Triton gives a high five to a young spectator.
King Triton also joined the parade party, attracting both campus members and spectators alike for fun photos and high fives. 
A group of students wave small pennants as they walk in the parade.
An annual campus tradition, the parade drew scholar-athletes, students from all seven colleges, staff and faculty from across campus and university alumni with their families. A sea of blue shirts and bright yellow pennants flooded Harbor Drive, led by a large UC San Diego banner and ending with the festive float. 
UC San Diego's Powwow Princess hands a small banner to a young spectator during the parade.
UC San Diego’s Powwow Princess, 'Eshash Morales (San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians) marched in the parade, interacting with spectators in the crowd by handing out bright yellow pendants. As princess, Morales serves as an ambassador for the university when she travels within Indian country to powwows and community events as well as during university activities such as the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade.
A woman from UC San Diego's Pep Band plays a large drum while marching in the parade.
Despite being a cold, drizzly day, UC San Diego’s Tritons were all smiles. The energy was high with the help of the university’s Pep Band who played lively tunes to get people on their feet, as well as stellar performances from the UC San Diego Cheer Team, who performed for the parade judges in front of the bandstand. 

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