Student Spotlights

Student Spotlight: Karen Mendoza

August 16, 2019

Karen Mendoza is Director of the Project Management Office at the California Chamber of Commerce and a graduate of the Executive Leadership Program.

What most stood out to you about this program?
The instructors were highly engaging and knowledgable about their subjects. My classmates were all great leaders in their fields, as well, and they added another level of enrichment to my learning experience.

Student Spotlight: Marnie Norris

August 15, 2019

Marnie Norris was working for a computer hardware company as a principal business operations analyst when her office was suddenly closed. Her unemployment was covered by a federal program that helps pay for training for dislocated workers, so Norris decided to enroll in the Business Analysis Certificate Program from UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education. “I enrolled in the program to put structure and context around what I already knew,” said Norris.

Student Spotlight: Carmel Gacho

July 24, 2019

Moving across an ocean is daunting enough, but starting a new career in a new country was a task Carmel Gacho was more than capable of undertaking. Gacho used to work for a government research institute in Manila, Philippines as a Supervising Science Research Specialist and Environmental Committee Chair, focusing on hazardous material management and environmental compliance. “My job exposed me to the complex health and safety issues in an R&D [research and development] environment and perked up my interest to learn more on the science of safety,” said Gacho.

Student Spotlight: David Wood

June 17, 2019
As an already experienced healthcare professional, David Wood realized he needed more focused training to keep up with the trends of the healthcare industry. As assistant director of quality management at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, Wood didn’t have time in his busy schedule to commit to a full-time degree program in healthcare analytics.

Employer Spotlight: Julia Tyrpin, Griffith Foods

June 13, 2019

With a focus of “bringing science to the food industry,” Griffith Foods has been serving the field for 100 years as a creative partner specialized in developing unique and innovative culinary concepts and products through a collaborative innovative process that combines sensory and food science with culinary and marketing insights.

Student Spotlight: Martha Castaño

June 12, 2019
After more than 12 years of working in sensory and consumer science, Martha Castaño believes that she made the best decision of her life to pursue a career in the industry. “I bet on my passion,” she said.

Student Spotlight: Jessica Johnson

May 23, 2019

Juggling a variety of tasks at the same time was never an issue for Jessica Johnson, a facilities and housing specialist for a community services organization in Northern California. From writing grant applications to working with contractors to build homeless shelters, Johnson was always involved in a variety of projects. "When you work for a non-profit you wear many hats," Johnson said. But when she wanted to become a project manager, her CEO suggested she enroll in UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s Project Management Certificate Program.

Student Spotlight: Karen Meistas

May 23, 2019

Construction is an inherently dangerous profession. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the construction industry saw 971 workplace fatalities in 2017 (OSHA, 2019).

Having worked in the construction industry for 25 years, Karen Meistas was no stranger to workplace accidents. “I’ve seen firsthand the effects of an injury to an employee, their family and the company,” Meistas said.

Student Spotlight: Ben Campbell

May 20, 2019

When Ben Campbell’s job brought him to Sacramento, he decided he liked it enough to make it his permanent home. However, he was working in the tech industry, and he wanted a position in the environmental sciences.

Employer Spotlight: Marcia Young, Mondelez International

May 13, 2019
Mondelez International is one of the world’s largest snacks companies with more than 70 brands and approximately 80,000 employees. Marcia Young, the company’s senior director of consumer science, has been sending people annually to UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s Applied Sensory and Consumer Science Certificate Program since its inception.

Student Spotlight: Richard McClellan

May 06, 2019
“It’s a landscaping project that got completely out of control,” says Richard McClellan, owner of Highland Hills Vineyard and Winery in Ramona, Calif., when asked about how he got into the wine industry. His “project” is a family affair that has grown into a successful boutique winery that produces 500-750 cases of estate wine each year.

Student Spotlight: Terri Taylor

May 02, 2019
Wanting an accounting program that would work with her schedule, teach practical skills and provide a good return on her investment, Terri Taylor found what she was looking for in UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s Accounting CPA Exam Track Certificate Program.

Student Spotlight: Juan Viña

May 02, 2019

Like many employees today, Juan Viña was accustomed to taking on extra responsibilities at work. But when his supervisor asked him to assume the role of safety manager for his job site, he felt he needed help getting up to speed on his new position. So he enrolled in UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education's Workplace Health and Safety Manage Certificate Program.

Student Spotlight: Susan Boyland

May 02, 2019
As an accomplished systems engineer for Boeing, Susan Boyland hadn’t planned on switching careers. But a work assignment involving creating a website for her team changed all of that. She discovered a talent and interest in website development and decided to take her self-taught skills to the next level. Boyland enrolled in the online Web Development Certificate Program and completed the coursework while juggling a busy professional and personal life.

Student Spotlight: Dilhari Peiris

May 02, 2019
Dilhari Peiris is a recent graduate of UC Davis Extension’s Web Development Certificate Program and now she works as a web developer in Washington, D.C. We asked her to share her experience.

Student Spotlight: Zeena Bhakta

May 02, 2019
Meet Zeena Bhakta—she’s an analyst at the federal government in Washington, D.C. and a new graduate of the Web Development Certificate Program at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education. While coding and web development are not part of her day job, Bhakta says she has always been interested in web development and wanted to prepare herself in the event her job may require these skills in the future. “With society’s increased dependence on technology such as web applications, I recognize there is a strong potential for a nexus between any job and the web/IT industry,” said Bhakta.

Student Spotlight: Anne Worthington

May 02, 2019
After a successful career as a pharmaceutical salesperson and eight years as a stay-at-home mom, Anne Worthington is now the alumni and student giving officer for the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. She’s also a student in the Fundraising and Development Professional Concentration at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education. When re-entering the workforce, Worthington felt her sales skills made her a great fit for the field of development.

Student Spotlight: Sam Hartwell

May 02, 2019
Following a successful 30-year active duty and reserve career in the Army—which included time served in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as intelligence support for special ops—Sam Hartwell retired as a colonel and was ready for a different kind of “action” in his life.

Member Spotlight: Suzette Westsmith

May 02, 2019
Suzette Westsmith of Camino, Calif. enjoyed a career serving in special education and with disadvantaged youth prior to retirement. She’s also a graduate of UC Davis with degrees in sociology and psychology.

Member Spotlight: Merrie Callinan

May 02, 2019
Merrie Callinan has been an OLLI member for 10 years, most recently with OLLI at UC Davis. After serving as a middle school resource specialist for students with learning differences, Callinan is now the student.

Member Spotlight: Gail Yokote

May 02, 2019
“Since I’ve been introduced to OLLI it’s been great,” says Gail Yokote. A member of OLLI at UC Davis for only a year, she is already volunteering as the interim secretary for the OLLI Board of Directors.

Student Spotlight: Richard Krumwiede

May 02, 2019
As a landscape architect, Richard Krumwiede, now winemaker/viticulturist at Sycamore Ranch Vineyard & Winery, always enjoyed visiting the grounds of the many wineries he worked on. In 2007, he decided to plant a zinfandel vineyard on his own property after a beetle infestation killed off the native pines. As the vineyard developed, he began making wine, further cultivating his interest in viticulture and winemaking.

Student Spotlight: Amy LaBelle

May 02, 2019
4,083 days. That’s how long it took for Amy LaBelle to realize her dream of making wine full-time. She began her career as a corporate attorney, but five years into practicing law, she realized she had missed her calling. From that moment, until the day she opened the doors of her winery, she did something every day to move her dream forward, and now she is the founder and winemaker of the award-winning LaBelle Winery in Amherst, NH.

Student Spotlight: Kennedy Taylor

May 01, 2019
Kennedy Taylor is just beginning a new career in health care. She recently accepted a research data specialist position with the California Department of Healthcare Services in Sacramento and credits UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s Healthcare Analytics Certificate Program with helping her land the job.

Student Spotlight: Lauren Woods Salazar

April 18, 2019
Meet Lauren Woods Salazar, New Belgium’s wood cellar director and blender, otherwise known as the company’s chief curator. Salazar is also a graduate of UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s world-renowned Applied Sensory and Consumer Science Certificate Program.

Student Spotlight: Damian Espinase Nandorfy

April 18, 2019
Damian Espinase Nandorfy, a scientist at The Australian Wine Research Institute, completed the Applied Sensory and Consumer Science Certificate Program in September 2018.

Student Spotlight: Kristin Seidl

April 18, 2019
Kristin Seidl, Ph.D., RN, had been working in health care for more than 24 years, when she decided on a career change. As the healthcare industry shifted to a more data-dependent environment, she knew that her understanding of clinical operations and the regulatory environment could be an invaluable asset in an analytics role. So she embraced her love of working with data and transitioned from clinical operations to data analytics.

Student Spotlight: Lance Rodgers

April 18, 2019
William Lance Rodgers is a senior analyst for the Air Force Medical Service at the Defense Health Headquarters. He has spent close to a decade working with data, including nearly three years of experience in healthcare analytics. Being able to creatively solve problems and provide better information is what he enjoys most about his work.

Student Spotlight: Lori Roberts Smith and Tim Zindorf

April 12, 2019

Lori Roberts Smith and Tim Zindorf completed the Professional Coaching for Life and Work Certificate in December 2018. Longtime friends, Smith and Zindorf live near Washington, D.C. with their families. While traveling cross-country every other week to attend the five-month program initially seemed liked a challenge, it soon turned into an adventure. Prior to enrolling, Smith did extensive research to find the best coaching program to meet their needs.