Why did I come to UC Santa Cruz and how has UCSC affected my life? WOW!
I learned about UCSC from a high school friend, fellow Crown ‘71 alum Kathy Henry. Her father worked on the financing of UCSC at UCOP, University Office of the President. He brought his family to some of the early picnics at the UCSC site. I was excited about the concept of small colleges with access to university-wide courses. We visited UCSC together and I was hooked by the beautiful campus. I chose Crown to be part of the beginning of something entirely new that was focused on my interests in Math and Science.
What I found at UCSC and Crown was more than I expected and shaped my life in so many ways. Toward the end of my freshman year, I learned about courses in a new field, related to Math, but more applied than theoretical; Information and Computer Science. It was incredibly exciting to become a part of a whole new area of study. We had no textbooks for any ICS classes, at most a few mimeo-graphed pages from a textbook still being written by the professor of the class. And the class size was never more than 10, mostly the same six to seven students. We got to know our professors well, and they were good teachers as well as innovators in their areas of expertise. I get a kick pointing out their names or pictures to my grandkids when visiting science museums.
A couple of those professors even came to our wedding, which is another way UCSC shaped my life. My husband of 48 years, Jack Aiello, is also a Crown ‘71 alum and one of the six to seven students in all my ICS classes. After grad school, he went to work in Silicon Valley, creating some of the earliest laptops, and I did research in AI for a rival university. (My first AI project was my senior thesis with Ira Pohl.) We have three wonderful kids, one of whom is also a banana slug, and four really cute grandkids.
And of course, UCSC and Crown shaped my life philosophically. Growing up as an immigrant in typical post-war California suburbia, we were pretty sheltered, even in close proximity to San Francisco and Berkeley. Liberal politics, open-mindedness, appreciation of nature—I can probably come up with more—but we can talk more next April. Hope to see you all at the reunion!
Loved reading yours, Nell. Very grateful you came to that early UCSC picnic with me and my family! And, really enjoyed the 4 years at Crown with you!!!