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Olympian, Athletics and Campus Community Show UC Pride at Onward California

Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Olympian athlete Sonali Merrill joined King Triton, the men’s water polo team, women’s volleyball team and the campus community for Onward California Monday in Town Square. Merrill signed autographs and posed for photos as attendees added their names to the “I Believe in UC” art wall and enjoyed free gelato.

“I consider UC San Diego to be my second family,” said Merrill, a UC San Diego alumna who ran on the campus track team before representing Sri Lanka in the 2012 London Olympics. While a senior, she set school records in both the 400 hurdles and 400-meter dash. “Whenever I come back to visit, it feels like coming home. This is where it all started.”

Olympian athlete Sonali Merrill

Hosted by the University of California Office of the President, the Onward California Mobile Tour is traveling throughout the state to raise awareness of how UC and its graduates impact the daily lives of Californians. At the UC San Diego stop, hundreds of students, staff, faculty and campus friends were encouraged to show their school pride by sharing their UC story on a postcard or stepping over to the UC-themed photo booth.

“I’m proud of the wide variety of resources and opportunities that UC San Diego offers, especially the outreach programs that encourage and help underrepresented students to access higher education,” said Juliana Wong, a third-year student at Muir College.

“In 50 years our campus has gotten so far,” added fourth-year student Leah Le. “Our whole UC system is really progressive. We’ve put ourselves on the map.”

UC San Diego’s Student Organized Voter Access Committee was also present to register students to vote and offer information about polling locations on campus. In addition to showcasing UC impacts, Onward California encourages campus community members to become advocates for UC and to communicate the value of the university to lawmakers.

Students who stopped by the Onward California set were also the first to find out the lineup of performers for Hullabaloo, the fall music festival hosted by AS Concerts and Events taking place Nov. 16 in conjunction with Founders’ Celebration. This year, DJ Chris Cutz will open for hip-hop artist XV and electronic headliner The M Machine.

To learn more about Onward California and how to advocate for the University of California, visit www.onwardcalifornia.com.

 

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