• Frank Spotnitz, Vivian Chen Wadler, Matthieu Duncan, Catherine Townson and Cristina Sanchez Gonzalez.

  • Keynote speaker Frank Spotnitz (UCLA 1982), founder and CEO, Big Light Productions.

  • Center: Vivan Chen Wadler (UCLA 2007), gala co-chair and co-president, UCLA Alumni U.K. Network, with her husband Adam Wadler and other attendees.

UK alumni making a difference

The third annual UC Alumni U.K. Charity Gala raised over US$ 30,000 for scholarships for UC students to study in the United Kingdom.

by Violet Del Toro 
Communications Manager, University of California Trust (UK)

The third annual University of California Alumni U.K. Charity Gala took place at the historic Bloomsbury Hotel in London on March 17, 2018. Over 120 alumni, parents and friends turned out to support UC study abroad scholarships.

The gala was coordinated by Co-Chairs Vivian Wadler (UCLA 2007) and Catherine Townson (UCSD 2010) and a group of dedicated alumni volunteers, many of whom studied abroad during their UC careers, and supported by the University of California Trust (UK).

The evening featured UCLA alumnus Frank Spotnitz (1982) as the keynote speaker, who reflected on his time at UCLA, sharing that he only began working in film and television when he was 33. He spoke about how stories bring people from all backgrounds and circumstances together, with powerful narratives connecting us to one another.

Dr. Sarah Landis, member, UCLA Europe Campaign Committee; unidentified attendee; and Sylvia Mas, former president, UCLA Alumni U.K. Network. Spotnitz shot to fame through his work on "The X-Files" and has since gone on to create shows such as "The Man in the High Castle," "The Indian Detective" and "Ransom," all of which demonstrate a love of masterful storytelling.

UCSB alumnus (1987) and CEO of Natixis Asset Management, Matthieu Duncan was the featured alumni donor speaker. Duncan was one of the founders of the "UCSB UK Education Abroad Program, Fund," which is dedicated to providing financial support to UC Santa Barbara students studying abroad in the U.K.

Duncan explained that he believes we can create change in one person at a time. He spoke about the important role that UC has played in his life and encapsulated his personal reasons for supporting this world-renowned institution, noting that the University of California system is world-class, but fragile and needs support.

A highlight of the night was UC Irvine student speaker Cristina Sanchez Gonzalez, who is currently studying at Queen Mary University of London. The first in her family to attend university, Ms. Gonzalez is studying abroad thanks to the help of five scholarships, including a UCI grant and a UCEAP Outside Scholarship.

Gonzalez spoke about the importance of supporting international education and how globally minded citizens can bring about positive change for society. Her inspiring comments roused the crowd into action and even garnered a standing ovation. She concluded her comments by thanking attendees and then challenging them with the question, “How much will you raise tonight?”

By the end of the night, through individual pledges, the silent auction and the raffle prize draw, more than US$ 30,000 was raised. Over US$ 10,000 of that sum will go to UCLA for U.K. study abroad scholarships, with the remainder split among the other UC campuses.

Due to the generosity of the UC community, more students will have access to the empowering experience of international education. 

If you would like to learn more about getting involved with next year’s U.K. gala, attending or donating an item to the silent auction, please email alumni@californiahouse.org.uk.



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