Bringing It Back Home

This summer, Triton magazine asked UC San Diego alumni why they returned to campus to work. Here are their answers, and a few throwback photos, just for fun! Want to share your experience, we’d love to hear from you:

Loralyn Cross '04
Loralyn Cross ’04


“My college experience was really my first step to becoming an adult. It was my first time on my own, away from my family, my first time really living on my own supporting myself, and making decisions that would affect my future path. I remember all the little life lessons and all the people whose interactions taught me so much. If I had to sum it up in one phrase, it would be safe exposure. I was safely exposed to so many things in a safe environment that allowed me to mature and grow as an individual and a member of society. I truly believe that UCSD is uniquely diverse in its variety of offerings, and was critical to that wide range of experiences that made me who I am today.” 

—Loralyn Cross ’04,
Administrative Director for the Office of Research Affairs


Jay Varughese '97
Jay Varughese ’97

“My time at UCSD was from 1993-1997 at Thurgood Marshall College and I majored in Biochemistry/Cell Biology.  My memories at UCSD are all great memories.  I especially remember the friendships made which were lifelong.

“I remember spending many afternoons at the Grove Café drinking café chocolate. I remember singing for Hilary Clinton in Gospel Choir when she came to dedicate Eleanor Roosevelt College. I remember Bill Clinton speaking at our graduation in 1997. What I remember most was the experiences and good times with my friends for which I’m forever grateful to UCSD.”

—Jay Varughese ’97
Associate Clinical Professor, Oncology, UC San Diego Health


“I am a double alum (BA Muir 1986; PhD 1991) who was away from UCSD for 25 years. I returned in 2016 to do research in Alzheimer’s disease (which has been my career focus) at the UCSD Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center—the same place (and with some of the same people) I did my dissertation research 25 years prior.”

—Diane Jacobs ’86, PhD ’91
Associate Clinical Professor, Oncology, UC San Diego Health


“I’m a former special operations bomb technician/combat diver in the Navy, who went to UC San Diego’s School of Medicine, then back in the Navy as a pediatrician. I’m now here at UCSD pursuing a fellowship In developmental behavioral pediatrics.”

—Anthony Kuleto, MD ’15


Arvin R. Wali '13, MAS '17, MD '18
Arvin R. Wali ’13, MAS ’17, MD ’18

“I was a Revelle College student (class of 2013) and lived in Argo Hall (Argo 5). I majored in Economics and pursued a minor in the Humanities. I served as a resident advisor (Go Atlantis Hall!) and orientation leader for Revelle College and was the Revelle commencement speaker of my class. I was a mammalian physiology teaching assistant and enjoyed studying abroad at Hong Kong University and working for the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the UCDC Program in Washington, D.C. The Revelle Humanities were among my favorite courses and I had the opportunity to be a Humanities Teaching Assistant as an undergrad. I loved all the diverse things UCSD had to offer – I was a member of the DanceSport ballroom dance team and the Sitaare South Asian a Capella singing team! And one of the most special things of all from my UCSD experience is that I met my future wife, Milli Desai (Revelle class of 2014) at Revelle College.

“Today, I am a resident physician in neurosurgery for the UC San Diego Health System. It is a privilege and honor to serve the greater San Diego community – from Hillcrest hospital to the Veterans Affairs hospital to Jacobs Medical Center to Rady Children’s Hospital. The UCSD community was a place of tremendous growth for me as an undergrad student and medical student. Working for UC San Diego Health is serving my home and community.”

—Arvin R. Wali ’13, MAS ’17, MD ’18
Resident Physician, Neurosurgery, UC San Diego Health


Annamarie Bryson '95
Annamarie Bryson ’95

“One of the experiences I am grateful for is my participation in the OASIS Summer Bridge Program. I was introduced to many faculty and professional staff who supported my transition from high school to college. During Summer Bridge I was academically challenged, learned the importance of cultural diversity, and gained valuable skills to help me navigate my way at UC San Diego. I look back on my first year and recognize I gained so much more than college preparation and resources; I also developed life-long friendships with people who have been, and continue to be part of so many important events in my life.

“What I find most fulfilling at SIO is leading a dedicated group committed to supporting academics in three diverse research units. Our section’s faculty are leaders in their fields and focus on biological impacts of climate and coastal change, developmental biology in marine animals, and marine biomedicine and drug discovery. Given the importance of their work, it’s a privilege to be part of a team that supports their business and finances, contracts and grants, human resources, and operations/safety.  Lastly, I can’t overlook our incredible location. The ocean views and sunsets will never get old. 

“UC San Diego has changed so much since my time as a student. From physical buildings to student enrollment, growth can be seen everywhere on campus. What hasn’t changed is the feeling I get when I walk around campus. I was proud to be a Triton way back then, and continue to feel pride now as a staff member.”

—Annamarie Bryson ’95
Chief Administration Officer, Scripps Institution of Oceanography


Elisabeth Henry '08
Elisabeth Henry ’08 (far left)

“After graduating, in the summer of 2008, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do career-wise. I knew it wasn’t research science (even though I loved it). Ironically enough, I got a phone call from Intramurals Director who thought I’d be great at a part-time role as the Assistant Director of Sports Clubs. I fell in love with the job, and I knew I could make a difference. I did that for 4 years, then became the Director of the program for 7 years, and

now I am the Associate Director of Recreation, Engagement. I know how much Recreation meant to me as a student, and I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t have lasted without it. We all know it can be academically strenuous on this campus, and I find joy every day being a part of a department that reminds students to take time for health and well-being. Sports Clubs creates communities, and some might even go as far as saying families, on this campus and that is a BIG deal. I’m so proud to come to work each day and advocate for programs like these, create a space for students to learn something new, grow and develop, and now connect them with alumni for success and support long after they leave UC San Diego.”

—Elisabeth Henry ’08
Associate Director of Recreation, Engagement


Christopher Longhurst '96
Christopher Longhurst ’96 with parents and sisters at graduation.

“I graduated from UC San Diego in 1996 with a BS in molecular biology and earned my medical degree and MS in medical informatics from UC Davis—keeping it all in the UC family. My years at Revelle College were marked by good friendships (I lived in a mud hut, aka Challenger Hall), intense study (spent much of my time at Geisel Library prepping for medical school); and fun (helped keep the annual tradition of the Watermelon Drop alive)!

I am humbled to be back on my old stomping grounds, leading efforts at UC San Diego Health in the areas of Health Information Technology and Quality and Patient Safety. (There’s more synergy between these two areas than you may know!) Not only do I have the privilege to work with an exceptional group of leaders, medical providers, and staff, I also contribute to the organization’s efforts to ensure that our patients get the quality care they need and that our medical providers are equipped with the technology they need to provide this care efficiently and effectively.

Today, there’s a stronger connection and outreach to the community – just look at the recent opening of the Gilman Bridge and the expansion of the San Diego Trolley. What hasn’t changed is the entrepreneurial spirit found across faculty, staff, and students; great weather; and the view from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography!” 

—Christopher A. Longhurst ’96
Chief Information Officer and Associate Chief Medical Officer,
Quality and Patient Safety, UC San Diego Health


Christine Zielinski '17
Christine Zielinski ’17

“I currently work as an Archives and Manuscripts Assistant in Special Collections and Archives at Geisel Library. I really enjoy learning more about campus history as well as local San Diego history in my work. Especially when I work on faculty papers, I get to learn more about the research that goes on at UCSD and the university’s extensive contributions to scientific research. The most fulfilling part of my job is helping to make the library’s collections accessible and available for the public through manuscript processing.

“The campus is becoming more accessible and more self-sustaining than it was just a few years ago. When I was still a student, I often felt stuck and isolated on campus, but with the upcoming trolley extension, it will be much easier for students to get out and explore San Diego. There are also some interesting developments in the works such as the Bookstore Target which I think will help students feel like they can get everything they need right on campus. One thing that hasn’t changed is that the parking is still terrible!”

—Christine Zielinski ’17
Archives and Manuscripts Assistant,
Special Collections and Archives at Geisel Library


“It still feels like college was just yesterday—maybe it’s because I never left UC San Diego after I graduated!  It’s hard to believe that I started at freshman almost 10 years ago, living in Argo Hall as a Revelle College student. At the time, Plaza Café was the dining hall, Galbraith Hall was still a library, and the Keeling Apartments were being constructed.

“Being a student was tough! There was never a moment in my college career that wasn’t filled with some activity.  It was always “go, go, go!” and the only time for rest was when I was sleeping. If I wasn’t in class, I was studying, participating in extra-curriculars, volunteering, working, or going to the gym.

“The experience that I remember the most was my term as Service Vice President for Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed community service organization. It was one of the most challenging leadership experiences I’ve gone through, but also one of the most rewarding. I feel joy knowing that all the hard work and dedication I put into the service program resulted in the betterment of the community. The lessons I’ve learned from that experience helped shape the leader I am in the workplace today.”

—Kristen Weidler ’14
Business Development & Financial Analyst,
UCSD Logistics, Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions (IPPS)


Archana B. Balasubramanian '05
Archana B. Balasubramanian ’05

“In August 2012, I returned to UCSD to work as a Project Coordinator at the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) and am currently a Project Manager at the ADCS (promoted to project manager in Fall 2015). The ADCS is a coordinating center for national clinical trials in Alzheimer’s Disease, for which I assist with managing and coordinating studies. I am a firm believer in the organization’s mission statements and goals—to promote the discovery, development, and testing of new drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease. As a Project Manager, I work with sites and leading researchers in the field on a daily basis.        

“UC San Diego has grown bigger in impact in the sciences, size, and rankings over the past 17 years since I have graduated and I am so proud to have attended this institution and work here as well! The core values, curriculum, and research opportunities that were present when I was an undergrad, continue to be present today as well! UC San Diego inspires me to have pride in my actions and work as it is a reflection of not only myself but the university that is a big part of my daily life and educational foundation! Go Tritons!”

—Archana Balasubramanian ’05
Project Manager, Clinical Operations
Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS)


Jeff Omens '83
Jeff Omens ’83 (left)

“As a faculty member in the Department of Medicine and Bioengineering, I enjoy working with and mentoring students, particularly undergraduates. Many times I think back to my experiences here as an undergraduate in engineering, and it helps me communicate with, and relate to the challenges of science and engineering education at UCSD. I am always inspired by the students here at UCSD: their dedication and perseverance, their abilities to adapt, and that they almost always have a positive outlook.

“The growth of the campus and surrounding areas of San Diego give the area a different feel. UCSD seemed more isolated and self-contained. Venturing off campus was a big deal! Several of the faculty members that taught in engineering 40 years ago are still here, so some things never change!”

—Jeff Omens ’83
Adjunct Professor, Medicine,
Institute of Engineering in Medicine

“I miss the grove coffee shop. The building I now work in used to be a parking lot. I remember the old club med, which is now a grassy field. As grad students we started a yearly pirate-themed party, I understand they are still doing it. The Mesa grad student apartments already felt old.

 “I love to interact with the students, they are fantastic and full of curiosity and come from so many different backgrounds.

“I’m inspired by how quickly this place has gone from inception to a world-class research university. I am proud to be a part of that. I am inspired by the mission—to serve the state of California be providing a first-rate research-focused university.”

—Abraham Palmer, PhD ’99
Professor and Vice Chair for Basic Research,
Department of Psychiatry