Like many UC Santa Cruz alumni, I can’t help but smirk and reminisce when I hear people discuss the hobbit fairytale university that resides in the forest. Like a fairytale, there are many narratives about UC Santa Cruz and the credibility of an education acquired in the woods. Part of the alumni experience is knowing the truth, a truth that outsiders wish they knew but were too afraid to know. Every UCSC alumnus, at some point in their life, is addressed with these questions: Did you smoke with your professors? I heard UC Santa Cruz doesn’t give grades, is that true? Is there really a huge 420 celebration? Do people streak on the first day of rain?
As a parent, these questions might terrify me at first but research doesn’t lie. I will answer those terrifying questions later but first I want to highlight why I am proud to call myself a Banana Slug and prove how you can absolutely receive a credible education frolicking out in the middle of the forest.
Here are statistics and facts from 2016:
1. UC Santa Cruz ranked 4th in Research Influence Worldwide
Besides providing a higher education to people, universities have a responsibility to contribute knowledge and innovative ideas to the world. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings collects and analyzes data across universities worldwide and presents this to prospective students to help them choose the best school for their future. UC Santa Cruz ranked with a citation score of 99.8, ranking 53 out of 148 in the United States for being a top university whose faculty’s published works are cited by scholars worldwide. Learn more: http://news.ucsc.edu/2016/10/research-influence.html
2. UC Santa Cruz is Among the Top 50 Universities in the World
The U.S. News and World Report 2017 Best Global Universities rankings evaluated 1,000 universities in 65 countries and focused on 12 indicators to find out which universities rank at the top. UC Santa Cruz continues to climb the ranking ladder. In 2015, the university was ranked No. 63 and today it is tied at No. 27. UC Santa Cruz ranked high in the areas of citation impact (see research influence at number 1) and earned a No. 4 spot on the Best Global Universities for Space Science.
Learn more: http://news.ucsc.edu/2016/10/global-rankings.html
3. UCSC Biologist Wins 2017 Breakthrough Prize
Harry Noller, a molecular, cell and developmental biology professor, won the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and will share a $3 million grant with his colleagues. Noller joined UC Santa Cruz’s faculty in 1968 and his 50 years of research has helped in the development of new antibiotics that might be able to work against germs that are resistant to current drugs. Learn more: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/uc-santa-barbara-physicist-and-uc-santa-cruz-biologist-named-2017-breakthrough-prize-winners
4. For the First Time Ever, DNA was Sequenced in Space Using UCSC Technology
In 1996, USCS research professor David Deamer and UCSC professor of biomolecular engineering Mark Akeson created the nanopore research group, a group dedicated to making important advances in nanopore sequencing technology. In July of this year, NASA astronaut, Kate Rubins, successfully sequenced DNA aboard the International Space Station. Professor Deamer explains, “The fundamental research and patents underlying the technology of nanopore sequencing were carried out here at UCSC.” This technology is critical in protecting the health of astronauts and can be a significant tool in identifying life beyond Earth. Far out UC Santa Cruz!
Learn more: http://news.ucsc.edu/2016/09/nanopore-in-space.html
5. UCSC Alumnus Restores 1917 Women's Suffrage Film Footage
As a Film and Digital Media graduate, I had to put this one on the list. On October 13th, 2016, Mothers of Men was screened at the Del Mar Theater in downtown Santa Cruz. The silent film was shot in Santa Cruz 100 years ago and was assumed to be lost. James Mockoski, a UCSC Film and Digital Media graduate, came across a print of the film in 1997 and since then he has restored the 1917 footage, showcasing a historic Santa Cruz that imagines a progressive future where women can vote and serve as judges, lawyers, and state governors. How much has our election process improved since 1917? Many relevant questions can be raised from this film.
Learn more: http://news.ucsc.edu/2016/10/arts-silent-fim.html
These are just some highlights of the talent and innovation being born out of UCSC. I promised I would answer those terrifying questions: Did you smoke with your professors? No, I never smoked with any professors. I heard UC Santa Cruz doesn’t give grades, is that true? Up until 2011 UC Santa Cruz used a narrative grading system where professors gave in depth evaluations of a student’s performance. Today, all students are traditionally graded. Is there really a huge 420 celebration? I can neither confirm nor deny the festivities that a”rise” on the date of April the 20th. That is all. Do people streak on the first day of rain? Yes, be prepared for the first day of rain because you will see nudity.
So before you bash a university for being a pot head school you might want to look at the statistics first. Numbers never lie and UC Santa Cruz continues to rise in the rankings and contribute innovative ideas that are born in the middle of a forest.
Written by Stephanie Briggs
My Mantra: Strive to be the best me and improve a little every day. Be compassionate, especially to those who may not practice it. Continue to learn and love. Take a moment multiple times each day to breathe. Forgive myself and forgive others. Read books. Live what I preach. Accept others. And above all, laugh every single day. (P.S. I have an infatuation for horror and disturbing and dark true stories.)