Tag Archives: UCSD

“It’s important to give back what I’ve been given”

I had the pleasure of speaking recently with Omar Viramontes, the 2013 recipient of the Tom Tucker Leadership Scholarship, the single largest scholarship awarded annually by the UCSD Alumni Association. The Tucker Leadership Scholarship comes from an endowment established by a group of UCSD alumni in 2011, and Omar is the second recipient of the award. He will graduate in the spring from UCSD’s Thurgood Marshall College, the same college I graduated from many years ago. Speaking with Omar about his experiences at UCSD not only stirred fond memories of my own time there, but also served as a stark reminder of the value of hard work and determination, and of the importance of family. Omar has clearly earned everything he’s been given, and he’s determined to improve the lives of others. Here is his story:

Omar Viramontes

Omar Viramontes hopes to put his scientific training to use to improve public health in underserved communities.

Behind every successful student is a story of how he or she got there. Sometimes it’s innate ability; sometimes sheer determination. And sometimes, it is through sacrifices parents make to see their children have opportunities they never had. Parents rarely advertise their commitments as parents. They simply make them. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Higher Education, Philanthropy

It’s always fun to deliver good news…

I just had the great pleasure of calling a UCSD student to inform him that he will be receiving the 2013-14 Tom Tucker Leadership Scholarship, the single largest scholarship at the University ($10,000 to cover tuition, fees, books, and more).

UCSD AlumniHe’s receiving it as a result not just of his extreme financial hardship, but also his tremendous academic performance over the past three years, his significant record of leadership and volunteerism on campus and in the community, and his perseverance through some amazing challenges to get to the point that he will graduate next spring. Continue reading

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Filed under Higher Education, Philanthropy

“It takes a noble man…”

Dr. Tommy Tucker

Dr. Tommy Tucker

It’s rare that you get the opportunity to appropriately honor and thank a mentor later in life who had a major impact on your formative years. Thanks to the impressive generosity of a fellow UCSD alumnus, former Associated Students President David Marchick ‘88, and the leadership of UCSD Alumni Director Armin Afsahi ’90, a group of former student leaders and administrators were able to do just that last week. Continue reading


Filed under Education, Philanthropy

The Impact of A Champion

Originally published January 17, 2009

This seems to be a season of loss. We face daily headlines about the loss of jobs, the plummeting economy, major retail chains going under, financial institutions in crisis, housing values declining. It’s hard to look at the newspaper without feeling some sense of loss. Sometimes that loss takes on a very personal nature. Sometimes it’s the loss of a friend that makes you take pause to reflect and remember.

Yesterday I visited Long Beach City College’s west campus for a memorial event honoring an amazing faculty member who died far too soon. Just 40 years old, she had taught at the college for 10 years, but her impact went far beyond the classroom. That was evident in the celebration of her life that took place on campus Friday. Tears were shed, but there were just as many smiles and even more laughter and song as students, faculty, staff, friends, and family members gathered to honor her life.

Shannon Quigley Runningbear

Shannon Quigley Runningbear

This event held special significance for me. Shannon Quigley Runningbear and I had known each other for well over 20 years. We met in college, worked together, played together, hung together, and grew up a little bit together before I graduated and moved to Massachusetts for graduate school in 1990. Over the nearly two decades since, we had stayed in contact, sometimes sporadically and sometimes regularly. We had seen each other just a handful of times, as distance and life kept us in different places. However, whenever we got back together, or even talked on the phone or exchanged letters or e-mails, it was as if we were right back in college sharing our innermost thoughts and feelings all over again. We had just text messaged each other on Christmas Day, and on January 4 she was gone. Continue reading

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