Alumni Profiles

Latest Profiles

Since 1951, the UC Davis College of Letters & Science has prepared generations of innovators, problem-solvers, and leaders by fostering talent and creativity in an ever-changing world.  We are proud of our 116,000+ alumni now doing extraordinary work all over the globe.

Check out how a few of our distinguished alumni are making a difference in their fields:

The Great Adventure: Rob Lea's World Triathlon

February 14, 2020
Rob Lea has had a big year: summiting Mount Everest, swimming the English Channel and biking across the United States. The idea came to him after ankle problems prompted a doctor to tell him not to run anymore.

Deep Impact: Alumnus Anthony Williams Advises Governor

February 12, 2020
UC Davis alumnus Anthony Williams, as legislative affairs secretary to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, leads a team that is responsible for analyzing and negotiating all the various pieces of legislation working their way through the State Legislature.

Man About Town: Bob Dunning

February 12, 2020
The irony in columnist Bob Dunning’s nearly 50-year career at The Davis Enterprise is that when he applied for a job at the newspaper, he thought he might get hired as a night janitor.

John Hennigan Went From Rec Hall to WWE

February 04, 2020
John Morrison. Johnny Nitro. Johnny Mundo. John Hennigan (B.A., individual major, '02) has been known by many names as a pro wrestler and actor. A standout wrestler in high school, Hennigan was on the wrestling and track teams at UC Davis, as well as a member of the gymnastics and kung fu clubs. He majored in film studies. It all combined to create a multi-faceted career.

Theatre Graduate Reaches New Heights as Acrobat

February 04, 2020
Mark Ferrando (B.A., dramatic arts, ’11) has a résumé that illustrates his versatility: stunt performer, acrobat, actor, circus artist. Ferrando has channeled his passion for physicality and theater into a career that calls for both. As a student at UC Davis, he studied dramatic arts and was a part of the gymnastics club.

Sky's the Limit

February 03, 2020
For her second career, Vicky Benzing ’80 went in a completely different direction. Benzing worked as a vice president at semiconductor manufacturing company Novellus Systems before going part-time and then retiring in 2012. When she decided to retire, she became an aerosport pilot.

Alumna Explores Boundaries of Illustration and Art

January 14, 2020
After a four-decade career as a caricature artist, Karen Calden Fulk (B.A., art, ’65) is creating caricature-type paintings and sculptures, including a recent ceramic work honoring UC Davis art professor emeritus Wayne Thiebaud.

Mother-Daughter Team Teaches English Worldwide

December 10, 2019
In 1985 Carol Burrill held her baby girl, Kate Burrill, in her arms as she posed for a graduation photo next to the ARC Pavilion. She had just earned her master’s degree in linguistics. Twenty-two years later, Kate stood in the same spot for a photo the day she graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in the same field.

Alumnus Shares Thoughts on Winning Fiction Prize

November 14, 2019
2019 Maurice Prize for Fiction: Peter Shahrokh (English, M.A. ’75; Ph.D. ’83; MBA ’99)

I started my winning novel, A Wind Will Come, 30 years ago. The premise was that a professional engineer had chosen to become a chef, and he was then lured by the promise of owning his own restaurant by an ex-girlfriend if he found her lost lover. The lover was a psychopath, and that made things a little interesting. After I’d done the first two chapters, I couldn’t figure out where I was going with it. Ten years later I picked it up again and finished the last three chapters.

Deploying Bots to Thwart Trafficking and Domestic Violence

November 14, 2019

If  you buy a pair of shoes online, you’ll be bombarded by companies wanting to sell you shoes. What if the algorithms that target purchasing priorities could be used for a greater good?

That’s just what Raquelmarie Clark (B.A., communication, ’18) looked into for her undergraduate research project, “Algorithmic Governance: Worrisome or Wonderful?” Clark has since founded We Always Help Each Other (WAHEO), a nonprofit that supports organizations serving victims of sex trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault.

Deborah Harkness

November 14, 2019
Historian brings authenticity to bestsellers about witches and vampires.

Deborah Harkness is the author of the best-selling All Souls Trilogy, about scholar and reluctant witch Diana Bishop, whose discovery of an enchanted manuscript sets loose an underworld of witches, vampires, and daemons. Among them is the vampire and scientist Matthew Clairmont, who has long been searching for the same long-lost manuscript.

Tales of Afghanistan

November 14, 2019
Debut novel captures Afghan American coming of age story.

When Jamil Jan Kochai was 12, his family traveled from their West Sacramento home to their native Afghanistan. During that 2004 trip, Kochai was attacked by the family dog, witnessed what the U.S. invasion had wrought, and soaked up stories of the distant and recent past. A decade later, he brought a short story inspired by that trip to his first graduate writing workshop at UC Davis.

Young Alums Reflect and Look Forward

September 21, 2019
In June 2019, we caught up with seven soon-to-be graduates (now our newest alumni) to ask them about what they love most about UC Davis and how well their time in and out of the classroom prepared them for their next chapter. Here are their answers.

Alumnus Robert Oden Was on the Front Lines of Change

May 20, 2019
When UC Davis students were calling for more student and faculty diversity and culturally inclusive programs, Robert Stanley Oden was on the front lines. One of only 40 African American students on campus in 1967, he was a founder of the Black Student Union, the first such group on campus, and wrote a column for The California Aggie called “The Dark Side.”

Recent Art Graduate Has Full Plate

February 19, 2019

In the seven months since completing his degree, Tavarus Blackmon (M.F.A., art, '18) has been busy.