Common Ground Alumni

We greatly value the contributions students make to the Center and our mission, and seek to stay involved with them after they graduate. After all, they go on to continue doing such amazing things! We also welcome the contributions from current Alumni who believe in the mission of the Center.

Anneliese Harlander

Anneliese Harlander

Anneliese Harlander, pictured above, (2009-2013, Cultural Anthropology) was an active and engaged student, participating in Transformative Action, Transformative Justice, Tools for World Changers, and the founding of the Stevenson Garden. She also was a organizer and Chancellor's Undergraduate Intern of the student led Education for Sustainable Living Program, which brings forward experiential, student-directed education. In 2012, she visited Uganda, where she formed a strong connection with Mpambo Afrikan Multiversity, a collective of indigenous activists, scholars, and healers based at the Source of the Nile. Mpambo collaborates with civil society partners in Africa and worldwide to, amongst other things, bring forward a model for education based in cultural pluralism more so than a monoculture of the mind. Upon her return to UCSC, Anneliese facilitated a student-directed course at the Common Ground Center in conjunction with the Education for Sustainable Living Program. Her course infused the African philosophy of Ubuntu - valuing unity in diversity - into the Center and Kresge Garden. She sees the philosophy of Ubuntu, and the approach of the Common Ground Center, as working towards the same common vision. Anneliese continues to support Mbambo, and is developing partnerships with Empowerment Works, Living Mandala, and Common Ground to do so.

 

Ryan Abelson, Kresge Alumni Class of 2011 

Ryan Abelson

Kresge Alumni Ryan Abelson, pictured above during his freshman year, spring 2008. Ryan was active in launching the Kresge Garden Co-op and continues to nurture his connection with the student community. In 2012 Ryan founded Pajaro Pastures, a sustainable chicken egg business in Corralitos, California. 

David and Amy 

UCSC Alumni David Evershed (left) and Amy Rhine (right) have both pursued careers in farming and gardening. Here we see the two of them planting out the perennial herb garden that remains to this day at Kresge. David is a current farm manager at Everett Family Farms in Soquel, California. Amy works for the Family Farmers Seed Cooperative, based in Southern Oregon. The cooperative's members are seed growers from across the country that provide organic, public domain, open-pollinated, and bio-regionally adapted seeds for gardeners and farmers. Check out their website: www.organicseedcoop.com

Beth Davis, Student Board, 2013-14 Provost's Sustainability Intern 

Beth

Beth is a second year Kresge student at UC Santa Cruz working toward a degree in Community Studies. She is a member of the World Cafe Planning Team and a Core member at the Kresge Natural Foods Co-op. She is the Provost's Sustainability Intern for Kresge College, and she is excited to create a sense of community within Kresge through engaging with the Kresge Eco-Village and incoming Frosh and facilitating different connection building processes like Council, The World Cafe, and Open Space Technologies. She was inspired by her involvement in the many different Kresge courses (Food and Community, Tools for world Changers, Transformative Action, Imagining Utopia, and The Kresge Garden) as well as the events and activities hosted by the Common Ground Center during her first year at UCSC in 2012-2013. She took on a role as co-host for the World Cafe in Winter and Spring after becoming deeply inspired by her experience with the process. She hopes to facilitate the connection that is greatly needed in strengthening our efforts toward a more unified, and just future.

 

Gina Vollono, Co-founder of Common Ground Center Student Board and Executive Committee, Kresge Garden Coop Core Member 

Gina

Gina Vollono is a third year Kresge student at UC Santa Cruz studying Environmental Studies and Education.   Beginning her freshman year at Kresge, Gina found interest and inspiration in the Kresge Garden, deepening nature connection and learning gardening skills.  Since then, she has held the staff position of liaison for the Kresge Garden, connecting new students and aspiring gardeners to the Kresge Garden.  Inspired by all the work that students across campus do towards sustainability, Gina joined the Campus Sustainability Council two years ago, which is a student driven funding body on campus.  These positions have enriched her knowledge about facilitation and working cooperatively in groups.  When she is not in class and meetings, you can find Gina in the garden, bike riding in upper campus, or cooking up a storm in her kitchen.  Gina is excited to work with the Common Ground Center to share what she has learned to other underclassmen and spread opportunities for students wanting to get involved in their community.

Rebecca Wood, Take Back the Tap Coordinator

Rebecca Wood

Rebecca Wood is currently a third year student working towards her degree in environmental studies and sits on the Administrative Board for Common Ground Center. Rebecca feels extremely passionate about water related issues and acts as the campus coordinator for Take Back the Tap, which is a water campaign to end the sale of single use water bottles at UCSC. She is also involved in Program in Community Agroecology at the Village and the S.S Palo Alto Project.  In her free time, Rebecca enjoys meeting new people, hiking, backpacking, sailing, scuba diving, dancing, reading, and above all else, spending time with loved ones. Rebecca hopes to inspire other students to find their passion and to dedicate themselves to whatever endeavors allow them to reach their long-term goals.

Melissa Ott, Executive Committee, Media Team 

Melissa Ott

Melissa Ott is a student, educator, avid bicyclist, and writer who is passionate about community engagement. She is a fourth year English Literature major and has been deeply engaged with the sustainability movement at UC Santa Cruz since Fall 2011. She has worn many different hats at UCSC, including being the Chancellor's Undergraduate Intern in the Sustainability Office, a member of the UCSC Carbon Fund, and a teaching assistant for the Tools for World Changers class in Kresge. She is currently a Residential Adviser for Stevenson College, an Education & Outreach Associate with the Sustainability Office, a bike transit planning intern in the IDEASS program, an Instructional Assistant for Porter Core class, and she will be teaching a Literature Department course on Nietzsche in the spring. With the Common Ground Center this year, Melissa supports the newsletter and social media outreach efforts and works to foster and strengthen partnerships with on- and off-campus organizations. In all of the work that she does, Melissa strives to make connections and build relationships, empower students to take an active role in their education, and use her passion for writing to support and promote inspiring stories and opportunities for adventure and growth!

Jenna Barron, Compassionate University Initative Coordinator

Jenna

Jenna Barron is a deep thinker, forest explorer, and enthusiastic life lover who studies philosophy, buddhism, psychology and anything that can facilitate the growth and exploration of herself and global community. She utilizes the philosophical method as a tool for empathetic understanding of multiple perspectives and fuses it with her calling to live in a world beyond violence on an internal and external scale. She strives to cultivate within herself an expansive world view which takes into consideration the needs of all living beings with her compassionate activism. She defines compassion as “proactive empathy” which takes idle understanding of suffering to the next level and requires action to promote well-being for all. Her passion for service and compassion began when she lived in a Nonviolent Communication intentional community in College Ten titled Rumi’s Field. Much inspiration has arisen from her participation as both a student and teaching assistant in Kresge courses including: Transformative Action, Justice, and Communication. She is now the co-founder and coordinator of the Compassionate University Initiative pilot project housed under Common Ground Center which strives to educate the heart of UCSC in hopes of transforming the higher education experience into one that equips students with tools to thrive in their life experience in and outside the classroom. She is currently the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Intern for Praxis Service-Learning Community at Colleges Nine and Ten where she works with students to explore various social, environmental, economic justice issues and puts theory and thought into practice in weekend volunteer and civic-engagement projects in the Santa Cruz community. In addition she is a representative of the Brain, Mind, Consciousness Society where she works with others to integrate student voice into course design and promote student-led education. This year she is living in the Program in Community Agroecology (PICA) gardening community and is loving the chance to create a multidimensional sustainable lifestyle with herself, others and the planet!

Kristin Carlson, Executive Committee, Provost's Sustainability Intern 2014-15

Kristin Carlson

Kristin Carlson is a senior Environmental Studies student at UCSC, working with Common Ground Center as the Provost Sustainability Intern. Filling many different roles as a “Jill of all trades,” Kristin finds herself participating in the media role with jobs such as creation of the bi-monthly newsletter, social media, facilitation of community action teams (CAT), participation on the Student Board and Executive Committee and facilitation of student intern positions, among other things. Facilitation of CAT’s has been an awesome opportunity for Kristin. The Worldview Transformation CAT, that she facilitated in Fall and continues to co-facilitate in Winter and Spring, is a space where students come together to learn about the benefits and neurobiology of meditation, in conjunction with a curriculum on worldview examination provided by Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). She is also an active member of the Fossil Free UC movement as a co-facilitator of the FFUC CAT offered through the Collaborative Learning and Transformative Action courses. Playing an active role in the thriving consciousness at the Common Ground Center has lifted up Kristin’s academic experience here at UCSC. Her passion for seeking and sharing insights is fed through other avenues such as journalism with the on campus radio station, KZSC, as well as, singing and songwriting with her Santa Cruz based band Nascosta. She is also a proud mother of two beautiful children, deepening intergenerational interactions at Common Ground Center.

David Rosas, Student Board, Provost's Sustainbility Intern, Food & Water Watch / Take Back the Tap

David Rosas

David is a second year student from College Eight. He is an Environmental Studies Major with a minor in Legal Studies. His main goal at UCSC is to create lasting change toward a more sustainable environment. The way David is accomplishing this goal on Campus is through his participation in the Student Common Ground executive Board and as a Co-coordinator of Take Back the Tap and the Food & Water Watch Hub. David is currently working toward getting a single use bottle water ban on campus and connects all organizations to each other and strength relationships on campus.

Natalie Hazrati, Executive Committee, Provost's Sustainability Intern 2015-16

Natalie is a second-year student double majoring in Environmental studies and Economics.  She works with Common Ground Center as the Provost Sustainability Intern, where her duties include helping with events and media outreach, creating the bi-weekly newsletter, participating on the Student Board and Executive Committee, and other tasks. Natalie is very passionate about the social aspect of sustainability and believes that we are all stewards of the earth, and have a moral responsibility to take care of the beauty that surrounds us. She is happy to be a part of Common Ground Center this year because she feels that Common Ground’s principles and vision truly promote environmental and social change on campus, which will ultimately lead to the education and deepening sense of responsibility to take care of our planet by other students, as we build a more sustainable campus and overall society. 

Samantha Ashley, Student Board, Community Engagement Coordinator

Sammy

Sammy is a third year Kresge affiliate double majoring in Psychology and Legal Studies. She is the Common Ground Center Community Engagement Coordinator and her duties include outreaching to the community and working with the student board to plan and promote events. She has been the co-coordinator for Thrive for the past three years, a Common Ground Center organization that focuses on sustaining a culture of compassion through non-violent communication practices, random acts of kindness, self care and empowerment. She enjoys adventuring outdoors, hiking, traveling, creative writing and is passionate about prison reform and the power of empathy in shaping a better, more compassionate community. She has been positively influenced by the work of Common Ground, loves working within the Kresge community and hopes to help create positive long lasting change in her world.

Kevin Ulibarri, Executive Committee, Treasurer

Jesse Borges, Student Board, Media Coordinator

Cristal Gonzalez, Student Board, Provost's Sustainability Intern 2015-16, Take Back the Tap

Jennifer Fineman, Student Board, Staff Writer & Media Coordinator, 2017-18

Jenny Fineman

Psychology is the study of understanding the core foundations of human interaction. Even before entering UCSC, Jennifer dreamed of being a lawyer and there is no better way to study the law than through studying the human mind. As a psychology major with an interest in pursuing a career in law, she also understood how valuable it is to be a thoughtful writer; it is important to be clear, concise and to keep a reader interested in what words you inscribe on paper. With that said, throughout her time at Santa Cruz, she always worked to challeng herself as a writer and thinker by taking courses in all disciplines (Literature, History, Legal Studies and Psychology). As a staff member for Common Ground, she added to a diverse community of thinkers, professionals and activists. 

Miranda Pettiford-Vasquez, Student Board, Events Coordinator, 2016-18

Miranda

Miranda Pettiford-Vasquez majored in Literature with an emphasis in Modern Literature. She worked with the Common Ground Center as the Events Coordinator which is a fancy way of saying that she helped host and plan a multitude of different events, as well as organizes volunteers through the Common Ground Center. Miranda is a people person who feels at home talking with and learning about other people’s dreams and lives. She feels that working at the Common Ground Center gave her much more of an opportunity to expand her horizons and see different points of view from many different types of people. Miranda wholeheartedly believes that working with others truly is the best way to improve the world around her.

AnnaRose Etra, Student Board, Community Engagement Coordinator, 2017-18

AnnaRose

AnnaRose studied Psychology and Education. She was the Common Ground Center Community Engagement Coordinator, and member of the Student Board. Building relationships and practicing the art of conversation are both incredibly important values to her, which made the World Cafe one of her favorite communities to be a part of. In addition, her UCSC experience involved volunteering to help those experiencing homelessness, helping to build the latest campus garden, and exploring all the natural beauties our city has to offer.