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Meet Our Supporters

Consistently ranked among the nation’s top ten public schools, UC San Diego draws distinguished faculty, researchers, and scholars from around the world. To fortify that level of excellence, we rely on the visionary leadership and profound generosity of our Chancellor’s Associates. Learn more about what motivates our exceptional donors.


Our Current Featured Donors


Introducing Others to Chancellor’s Associates Scholarships

Subert Wong and Jing Wang have been UC San Diego supporters since their eldest daughter’s freshman year in 2017. Wong is the chief operating officer at New Century Insurance. He saw how a planned gift would support CASP, so he established the New Century Insurance Service Endowed Scholarship.

Wong introduced Omar Ahmad, the regional sales manager at AmTrust North America, a partner of New Century Insurance, to UC San Diego and encouraged the company to support CASP. New Century Insurance team members Angela Tseng, Joe Lopez Jr. and Michelle Shen joined Ahmad on a campus visit to meet current CASP scholars and present a $5,000 gift from AmTrust North America. Wong hopes that this is just the beginning of AmTrust’s relationship with UC San Diego.  


And learn more about other exceptional Chancellor's Associates: 

Tom and Carol Dillon

Tom and Carol Dillon

Tom and Carol Dillon 

As East Coast transplants who met during college in Boston, Tom and Carol Dillon have lived in San Diego for nearly 40 years. Drawn to the region because of Tom’s career leading science and engineering research organizations, it was through his last employer Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), founded by Bob Beyster, that they found their connection to UC San Diego.

Upon their arrival in San Diego, Tom met with UC San Diego’s then-chancellor Richard Atkinson. Almost immediately, Carol and Tom were drawn into the university, becoming engaged with the Jacobs School of Engineering and the School of Global Policy and Strategy. Through introductions from Betty Beyster, the couple began their affiliation with the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Institute, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the Student-Run Free Clinic. But it was Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla’s establishment of the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program (CASP) in 2013 that drew them to support Chancellor’s Associates. In addition to annual gifts, the couple also funded an endowed scholarship and, more recently, made plans for a gift from their estate to further support the program, for which they’ll receive York Society recognition as well.

“We have always had a deep interest in access to college for economically disadvantaged students. Chancellor’s Associates’ emphasis on scholar success is unique and critical. Opportunities to meet CASP scholars face-to-face are always inspiring. We particularly appreciate the CASP induction events are beyond inspiring: We greet energized students who recently learned they have been selected for the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship — often with their proud parents, who are full of joy and anticipation for a bright future.”

As members of the Triton community, the Dillons hope that UC San Diego, under the dynamic leadership of Chancellor Khosla, continues its upward trajectory. “There’s such an exceptional commitment to student success, we hope that the university continues its outreach to the broad San Diego community with both research and industry endeavors, as well as cultural engagement. We feel strongly that Chancellor’s Associates will play a crucial role in realizing those aspirations.”  

Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Vertex and UC San-Diego Leaders with CASP students

 Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Earlier this year, Vertex Pharmaceuticals committed a gift to Chancellor’s Associates and the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program, hoping to inspire the next generation to choose STEM and biotechnology careers. Vertex Pharmaceuticals is committed to partnering with schools and students who have traditionally been underrepresented in science. The company, which discovered all of its cystic fibrosis medicines in San Diego and has an R&D pipeline in multiple other serious diseases, is expanding their outreach to support the local community through several STEAM education initiatives.

Vertex is supporting two current scholars, Noseiba Suleiman ’26, a general biology major at Revelle College, and Vanessa Alvarez ’26, a public health major at Muir College. Both scholars graduated from Crawford High School, which Vertex partners with to bring students hands-on learning opportunities and provide them with opportunities to explore STEM careers. As Vertex Pharmaceuticals Chancellor’s Associates Scholars, Noseiba and Vanessa will have access to the company’s San Diego Learning Lab, where they will meet Vertex scientists, engage in real-world experiments and have dedicated mentors. They will also have an opportunity to participate in the company’s college internship program.

“By supporting CASP, we aim to create these pathways into STEM for students at UC San Diego, which we believe can be transformative for the CASP scholars and the biotech industry as a whole. We are excited to be able to deepen Vertex’s partnership with the San Diego community while also providing opportunities for the CASP scholars to gain hands-on experience and mentorship during their college internship at Vertex,” says Melodie Knowlton, senior director of community affairs and global head of STEAM education at Vertex.

Enrico Bernardo ’96 and Patricia Arraraz ’96

Enrico Bernardo, Patricia-Arraraz and family in front of Stonehendge

Enrico Bernardo ’96 and Patricia Arraraz ’96

Enrico Bernardo and Patricia Arraraz first became alumni donors when they sponsored the Triton 5K in 2016.

“The 5K route brought back wonderful memories of our time as students. The race made its way past Ocean View dining, bringing back freshman memories of weekend meals with a great view. For some reason, the burgers and curly fries always tasted better there. As the race progressed toward Revelle College, it brought back memories of us rushing from our dorms to an early class or taking a nice evening stroll back home after a late night study session from Geisel Library,” says Enrico Bernardo.

Since that first race, Enrico and Patricia have run the Triton 5K with their children and explored other university campuses when they travel. They know that parents want the best college experience for their children but the cost may put it out of reach. “Establishing an endowment was our way of giving back to UC San Diego for the wonderful education and memories they gave us. It was also a way for us to encourage other grateful alumni to consider contributing to Chancellor's Associates so more California-based high school students who need a little help can attend UC San Diego ” says Enrico.

Nitzana Alzalde, Preuss ’14, ’18


Nitzana Alzalde, Preuss ’14, ’18

Nitzana Alzalde knew that in order to go to law school in the future, she needed to keep her undergraduate costs low. The Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship enabled her to graduate from UC San Diego debt-free in 2018 with a dual-major in political science and ethnic studies and accept a job in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today, she works in the legal field, where she is exposed to a plethora of cases ranging from civil, immigration, and criminal cases. Alzalde has her eyes on attending law school in the years ahead.

“Pursuing higher education for me has been life changing and I am forever grateful to Chancellor’s Associates for helping me accomplish my goal of being the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university,” says Alzalde. “I wanted to give back to the program that believed in me and I hope that other students are able to benefit from this program as much as I did.”

Alzalde invested in Chancellor’s Associates through the GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) match program because as the daughter of Mexican immigrants in a low-income family, she wanted to help scholars from similar backgrounds overcome obstacles to achieving success.

“I hope that CASP students dedicate time to finding themselves, embracing their identity, creating a community, and exploring different avenues of opportunity during their time at UC San Diego,” says Alzalde. “I think it is very easy to become overwhelmed by imposter syndrome when you are constantly comparing yourself to others in these academic spaces. But just remember that you deserve to be in these spaces and it is perfectly fine to ask for help and seek resources when necessary.”

Stuart Madison '18

Stuart Madison

Stuart Madison '18

“As one of eight children, Stuart Madison ’18 knew he would have to pave his own path to future success. In 2016, Stuart received a Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship to UC San Diego, launching his loan-free academic career as a Triton transfer student. With the financial help from the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship, he was able to focus more deeply on curating a college experience that would help him follow his dreams. He remembers, “There is no way I would have had the full college experience if I had needed to work part-time and spend time commuting each day. The scholarship allowed me to just go for it and have that ultimate freedom.”

The Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship also created a strong network of emotional support, shares Stuart, “CASP was also a great source of friends, socializing, support and general guidance. I still talk to friends I made on the first day of CASP 101.” He was able to thrive socially due to the program and connect with other first-generation scholars with equally big goals. When he needed mentorship or other assistance, Stuart would often find himself in the CASP office, either strategizing on passing a class or sharing his wins with the student and team staff.

His advice for current and incoming scholars? “As Chancellor’s Associates scholars you have the opportunity to prove that a program like this helps build something bigger than just academic success and graduating college. It presents built-in opportunities — so go out there and pursue that research opportunity instead of working part-time; live on campus instead of miles away; take those extra classes to see if you want that second major; do that summer internship instead of taking community college classes to save money in the fall. And if you still need to break down and cry, I'm sure someone in the CASP office would help dry your tears.”

Stuart currently works in computational linguistics with text-to-speech technology at Apple in San Francisco and is one of our celebrated founding nine Chancellor’s Associates GOLD match donors. 

Indira Esparza Galeana Preuss '11, ’15, Med ’16


Indira Esparza Galeana Preuss '11, ’15, Med ’16

“I knew from a young age that I loved school, it was a place that I would come to see as a second home,” shares, two-time Triton, Indira Esparza Galena Preuss ’11, ’14, MEd ’16. Indira was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and grew up in San Diego. Her mother and father did everything possible for all their three children to pursue higher education in this country, despite being Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients.

So, when Indira received the Chancellor’s Associates scholarship, it was a financial relief for the whole family, and she made it a life-changing moment. During her time at UC San Diego, she was able to focus on her schoolwork, explore on-campus jobs to help build up her professional resume, and ultimately gain hope for graduate school. She went on to graduate with her bachelor’s in political science, with a minor in education studies, and became a member of the first graduating class of Chancellor’s Associates Scholars. “Wearing the sash and medal at both of my graduations in front of my family is one of my most memorable moments at UC San Diego.”

She currently works as a teacher at The Preuss School UC San Diego. As a Preuss teacher to seniors, she is teaching the future Chancellor’s Associates scholars of UC San Diego. “It feels full circle. The Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship and the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program changed my life, and I knew the moment I graduated that I wanted to give back. Being a donor means that I support future generations of scholars and continue to hear their stories.” Her hope for our future Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship recipients is that they take pride in being part of the program, develop life-long friendships and build community at UC San Diego, the same way she did.

Photography by Ted Kim.

Grace Shiao '95 and Isan Chen

Grace Shiao '95 and Isan Chen 

Family photo - Grace, Ethan, and Isan

Grace always knew she wanted to attend UC San Diego, and now, as a Muir College graduate, she says, “I am forever grateful to the wonderful professors and graduate TAs who encouraged me to find my passion in psychology.” The financial aid Grace received was essential her to being able to attend UC San Diego, but Grace and Isan are well aware that student loan debt can be a burden to even the most accomplished graduate. They believe that Chancellor’s Associates Scholarships enable students like Grace to succeed in college and in life by easing the financial strain of college loans.

After graduating in 1995, Grace moved to New York City, where she attended graduate school and worked, but she missed California. When she returned, she began working at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, and it’s there that she met Isan.

Before moving to the U.S., Isan was a general surgeon in Brazil, where he had immigrated with his family at age six. After realizing his passion was in oncology, he moved to New York City where he retrained in a residency program before completing his fellowship in oncology and hematology at UC San Diego. “With life’s twists and turns, I started my own biotech company in 2019, focusing on cancer drugs, but it was UC San Diego that guided my path and further interest in cancer research.”

In 2013, the couple reignited their involvement with campus. “While walking around campus, reminiscing at the location where we first met, we knew it was time for us to give back and get involved. Coincidentally, that day was exactly 15 years after our first lunch date at UC San Diego.” The two have spent time on campus ever since, maintaining an active connection with the university that changed their lives. Ensuring their philanthropic impact will carry on, they are also part of the York Society, having left a gift in their trust to create a Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship Endowment.

Their engagement and generosity appear to have made an impression. Their son, Ethan, is a first-year student at Revelle College studying molecular and cell biology. As UC San Diego parents and loyal supporters, Grace and Isan see their participation with campus not only as a commitment to giving back to the university, but also to the community. They feel that their contributions reinforce their belief in the value of education — a value that they are delighted to model for the next generation. “We hope that this cycle of paying it forward will also encourage future graduates to give back and build a stronger UC San Diego community.”

Nirvana Navarro ’17

Giving back as a CASP GOLD Alumna

Nirvana Navarro Headshot

Chancellor’s Associates Scholar alumna Nirvana Navarro ’17 is the first graduate of the last decade to take part in our Chancellor’s Associates GOLD Challenge. Nirvana is a Triton through and through: After receiving her bachelor’s degree in international business, she joined UC San Diego as a financial assistant in what was then known as the Student Retention and Success Business Office. Since then, Nirvana’s career has grown — she received a promotion and is now a financial analyst for student retention and success within the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Resource Management team, which includes CASP. She is passionate about improving the world through her deep devotion to numbers, as well as financial management and policies. Nirvana will expand on her passion this fall, starting her master’s degree in accounting at San Diego State University.

As a transfer student from Imperial Valley College, Nirvana says that receiving the Chancellor's Associates Scholarship changed her life's trajectory forever. “Receiving the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship solidified my decision to say yes to UC San Diego. Although the financial support encouraged me to choose UC San Diego, it was the people in the scholarship program that guided me through my undergraduate journey. If it wasn't for the great mentorship of Academic Support Coordinator Karen Van Ness, I wouldn't have made it to the graduation line. In fact, once upon a time, I was ready to withdraw because I didn't think I belonged. However, under Karen's patient guidance through the journey with the unknown and unwritten rules of academia, I was able to find my true north.”

Says Nirvana, “I want to be able to contribute back to the community that allowed me to pursue my degree, supported my dreams, and always encouraged me to continue dreaming even bigger. Participating in the Chancellor's Associates GOLD Challenge is my way of saying ‘Thank you.’ I hope one day a young alumnus out there will be inspired to do the same.”

George ’73 and Lissa Elliott ’72

Considering “Someday,” Today

george-and-lissaChancellor’s Associates George and Lissa Elliott met during orientation week in 1965 and have shared a five-decade journey since their days in the “experimental” coed dormitory Discovery Hall.

Originally part of UC San Diego’s second undergraduate class, the Elliotts have watched with pride, seeing the school develop from “a few hundred students on a campus that was half desert,” into a thriving community. After a hiatus for marriage and George’s army service, Lissa went on to become the university’s first student to earn a degree in theater (Muir, 1972), while George received his BA in biology (Revelle, 1973), followed by a PhD from the University of Utah and postdoctoral work at Cambridge University and UC Berkeley.

They devoted their careers to advancing the arts and sciences, with Lissa working in ballet administration and at a school for pupils with language-based learning disabilities and George serving twenty-seven years at the US Patent and Trademark Office, where he started as a biotechnology examiner and ultimately became a deputy chief policy officer.

Now retired and living in Alexandria, Virginia, they have become dedicated contributors, championing access to higher education by gifting what they can now and pledging half of their estate: “We would ask UC San Diego alumni and friends to consider helping others gain the advantages of the education and life experiences the university provides. It gives us great pleasure to give back in this way.”

Sue, PhD ’86, and Steve Hart, MA ’80

Following Our Harts, in Student Success

sue-and-steveHonored with Chancellor’s Medals in 2014, Sue and Steve Hart have long been champions of UC San Diego, fortifying initiatives that connect academic promise with possibility, including the Alumni Leadership Scholarship. They joined Chancellor’s Associates in 2000 and have continually mobilized the boundary-breaking programs that open doors for students from underserved communities. In March, these innovators were again recognized for their outstanding cultivation of nontradition, each receiving the prestigious True Triton Award, as alumni who have made invaluable efforts in advancing university goals on campus, in the community, and around the world.

Now these trailblazers are charging into new territory, with the announcement of the Steve and Sue Hart Student Success Endowment, backing scholarships, tutoring, mentoring, and mental-health counseling. Their gift will empower learners, delivering diversified access to higher education and ensuring well-rounded support services throughout each scholar’s campus experience.

Currently serving as vice chairs of the International Leadership Committee for the Campaign for UC San Diego cabinet, the Harts have maintained active participation on a variety of campus boards and councils, including the UC San Diego Foundation board of trustees, the Alumni Association board of directors, and the dean’s council for the Division of Physical Sciences. Steve is also an initiator in industry, having co-founded Viasat Inc., a company at the forefront of satellite networking and digital-communication development. Together, Steve and Sue have elevated UC San Diego’s presence in high-tech research, steering pursuits with the Gordon Engineering Leadership Center, which provides hands-on training, mentoring, and think-tank forums, and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, which offers an interdisciplinary platform for theoretical exploration of the future.

With their alumni involvement, their immersion in Chancellor’s Associates, and their launch of new resources such as the Student Success Endowment, these True Tritons infuse vitality into the university and inspire all they meet.

Brian and Paula Powers

Find Your Reason for Giving

brian-and-paulaBrian and Paula Powers strive to spur progress around the globe. When Brian first became involved with UC San Diego, in 2003, it was as an International Advisory Board member for the School of Global Policy and Strategy, utilizing the experience he had gained as tai-pan of Jardine Matheson and CEO of both Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd. and Hellman & Friedman. But this business ace and his wife find the most rewarding way to instill success is through community philanthropy. “Assisting young people in achieving their educational goals is the best kind of investment,” Brian says.

A retired law professor and attorney, Paula is an assiduous volunteer, serving on boards for the Old Globe, the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, and the Oberlin Dance Collective. She and Brian relocated to San Diego because it seemed an ideal community, with prominence in culture and education, and they were particularly impressed with UC San Diego’s nontraditional economic diversity (fourth nationally for low-income student access). They became Chancellor’s Associates in 2013, drawn by the group’s commitment to outreach, and are pleased to see UC San Diego’s current momentum (including our 70 percent first-generation scholar cohort, in 2017). According to Paula, they “are believers in supporting educational opportunities for young people, especially first-generation college students and those from underserved communities.”

It was a particularly moving encounter with four Chancellor’s Associates Scholars last fall that fully piqued their drive to do more. Inspired by the “enthusiasm, passion, and range of interests and ambitions” the students voiced, the couple decided to amplify their impact, giving $100,000 in support of scholarship recipients’ multiyear needs. They hope to motivate other Chancellor’s Associates, encouraging us all to “take time to meet students and hear their stories — you will find your reason to be more involved.”

Karen and Jeff Silberman

Education: "The Stepping-Stone for Life" 

Karen and Jeff SilbermanAs a child, Jeff Silberman recalls Roger Revelle, Chancellor Herbert York, and other UC San Diego founders visiting with his parents, who were highly involved in supporting the university’s initial growth. At the same time, Karen Silberman’s grandparents, Anne and Abe Ratner, were among the inaugural donors who launched UC San Diego’s Chancellor’s Associates. Her parents, Pauline and Stan Foster, were also dedicated benefactors of UC San Diego for more than three decades.

“My parents and my in-laws saw very early on the importance of UC San Diego for our community and the world at large,” notes Jeff. “Karen and I are compelled to honor their legacy.” Karen adds, “For the last 20 years of my mother’s life, I heard many, many times, ‘Education is the single greatest opportunity a human being can ever have given to them.’”

Extending their family’s fifty-year tradition of philanthropy, the couple made history in 2017 by pledging a $1 million match of eligible contributions to Chancellor’s Associates — the largest gift ever given to the program. Their Inspiration Challenge has profoundly expanded funding for the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship, which provides access for talented local students (many from underserved communities) to attain education of the highest caliber at UC San Diego.

Jeff and Karen’s dedication, insight, and kindness embody their commitment to education and inspire the community. Their support for the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship reinforces their belief that “Education is the most important gift you can give. It is the stepping-stone for life.”