UC San Diego News Center


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


The Flavors of UC

Naia Bar Gelato, which got its start at UC Berkeley, offered 10 different flavors of gelato to attendees at Onward California—each one with a unique UC name.

Vitamin (K)iwi - UC Berkeley

Kiwi is naturally high in Vitamin K, a vitamin discovered by UC Berkeley.

Honey Bee - UC Davis

UC Davis’s honey bee research facility is the largest and most comprehensive state-supported agriculture facility in North America and the only one in California.

HTTP Pistachio - UC Irvine

UC Irvine alumnus Roy Fielding is co-founder of Apache HTTP Server Project and architect of the HTTP/1.1 protocol used worldwide for Internet access.

The Limelight - UCLA

Star power: UCLA alumni have 107 Academy Award wins and nominations. UCLA’s film school draws upon industry leaders for its faculty, advisers and mentors.

Cognitive Chocolate - UC Merced

UC Merced professors helped IBM develop experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition.

Energizer Coffee - UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara professor Daniel Morse has led development of a biologically inspired nanostructured battery that promises high power, longevity and low cost.

Citrus Grove - UC Riverside

UC Riverside has roots as a Citrus Experiment Station and continues to help grow California’s citrus industry, developing more than 40 new citrus varieties.

Being Green - UC San Diego

Sierra Club’s magazine ranked UC San Diego the “greenest” school in California and the third “greenest” in the country.

Super Strawberry - UC San Francisco

UC San Francisco researchers found that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is associated with a 50 percent reduction in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Vanilla Lick - UC Santa Cruz

With headquarters at UC Santa Cruz, Lick Observatory is home to many astronomical discoveries, including several moons of Jupiter and extrasolar planets.