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More than 400 people are expected to attend a $200-a-plate UC Santa Cruz scholarship benefit dinner and hear Google ad executive Susan Wojcicki speak about the Internet revolution and her experience as one of its early pioneers.
“There is tremendous opportunity for new graduates in Silicon Valley if they have interest in working for an internet or biotech company,” Wojcicki said. “These are growing industries and UCSC is so close to Silicon Valley.” She touted the need for students with technical skills as well as nontechnical students who can fill jobs in communications, marketing and sales sectors.
Wojcicki, a former scholarship student and UCSC teaching assistant, earned a bachelor’s degree in history and literature at Harvard University, a master’s degree in applied economics from UCSC, and master’s in business administration from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
In 1998, she serendipitously rented out her garage to a couple of young men who used the space to launch their search engine startup and she became the first marketing manager of Google a year later. She is now senior vice president of advertising at Google, leading the design, innovation and engineering of all of Google’s advertising products – accounting for 96 percent of Google’s revenue. Wojcicki also led the initial development of several key successful consumer products including Google Images, Google Books and Google Video.
Forbes Magazine listed her among the world’s most powerful women (along with Queen Elizabeth and Lady Gaga). As keynote speaker, Wojcicki plans to talk about key trends in technology.
Emmett D. Carson, chief executive officer of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, will host the ninth annual Scholarship Benefit dinner. The theme this year is “Taking on the Future.” It is the third time the event has been held in Silicon Valley.
At the dinner, UCSC alum Bill Dickinson will receive the UC Santa Cruz Foundation’s Fiat Lux Award for his work to support independent students at UCSC, many of whom are homeless, foster or runaway youths, orphans, or wards of the court. Dickinson, who grew up in an orphanage and foster homes, established the Page and Eloise Smith Scholarship in 1999 which grew to include a community of friends, financial help and mentors. The effort has supported more than 165 students.
“The event is really about engaging and stewarding our alumni, friends, and donors,” said John Hopkins, UCSC senior director of development, Student Experience. “This is about delivering a great experience to our constituents. It’s about bringing visibility to the campus; it’s about bringing awareness to our constituents about how scholarships make a difference These are important connections for the campus and our community.”
UCSC received nearly $3 million in private gifts for scholarships and fellowships in fiscal year 2011, almost 10 percent more than in fiscal year 2010. This year, undergraduates who are California residents pay about $12,200 for UC. More than two-thirds of them received some form of financial assistance in the past academic year.
“With state budget cuts, the middle class is being squeezed and we are seeing more students under pressure,” Hopkins said. “We have outstanding students who are finding that the line of income between ‘can pay-can’t pay’ is moving higher due to economic factors. This makes it much more difficult to pursue a college degree. Every dollar of unrestricted scholarship funding is invaluable to our students and a top priority for the campus.”
Wojcicki said her scholarship included UCSC tuition as well as the opportunity to teach undergrads in a paying position.
“As a result of this support, I was able to focus on my studies and I gained valuable skills teaching,” she said. “I am really thankful for this financial support since it definitely made it a lot easier to pursue graduate studies. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do today without all the economics, statistics and quantitative skills I learned in my masters at UCSC.”
Among her fond memories of Santa Cruz, Wojcicki said is the Saturn Café, where she had her first date with her husband, Dennis Troper. They have four children.
AT A GLANCE
The 2012 UCSC Scholarship Benefit Dinner reception begins at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. today at the Fairmont Hotel’s Regency Ballroom in San Jose. The public is welcome. A complimentary shuttle service will run from Santa Cruz to San Jose. For tickets, go to UCSC Special Events, firstname.lastname@example.org, go to http://events.ucsc.edu/sbd), or call 459-5003.
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