Class Notes


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Ronald Hecker ’62, was appointed branch chief of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. He was formerly a division commander and continues to practice law.

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Margaret Merritt ’74, a retired research supervisor at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, has had her book, “Adventures of an Alaskan Woman Biologist,” published by RDS Publications.

Christopher Mead ’75, is publishing his tenth book, “The Hypospace of Japanese Architecture,” which explores the interdependence of space and time in Japan’s modern architecture.

David Mulla ’79, a professor in the Department of Soil, Water & Climate at the University of Minnesota, is a key researcher for a recent $20 million, 5-year grant awarded to the University of Minnesota to lead a national artificial intelligence research institute. Artificial Intelligence for Climate Land Interaction, Mitigation, Adaptation, Tradeoffs and Economy (AI-CLIMATE) aims to leverage AI to create more climate-smart practices while boosting the economy in the agriculture and forestry industries.

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Dr. Renee Kassorla Polhamus ’84, has retired after 31 years as an obstetrician gynecologist at Kaiser Permanente in Downey, California.

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Mauricio Arellano ’90, was appointed superintendent of the San Bernardino Unified School District, the 7th largest school district in California. Prior to his appointment, Arellano served almost 6 years as the superintendent of the Redlands Unified School District. He is honored to lead the school district he attended as a child.

Lawrence Garrity ’91, was promoted to director of technical schools and continuous improvement for the Kentucky Department of Education in August 2022.

Charles Sasaki ’91, has been appointed as president and superintendent of Ohlone College in Fremont, California.

Marilyn Flores ’94, Ph.D. ’03, has made history as the second Latina to hold the president/superintendent position at Rio Hondo College. Flores credits her experience at UCR in preparing her for the role as a transformational educator and leader at K-12 schools, multicampus community college districts, and now a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Sonia Huff ’94, has been working at Western Municipal Water District for almost 22 years. Huff is currently managing the capital improvement projects division in the agency’s engineering department.

Michael Scherger ’96, started at the National Park Service, or NPS, as the chief learning officer and deputy associate director for learning and development. Scherger will lead service-wide learning and workforce skillset development aligned with the NPS mission to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources in national parks and to provide outstanding visitor experiences.

Nesha Crossman ’97, has assumed a new role as senior executive director of constituency programs in UC Riverside’s Office of Development. Crossman will oversee campuswide fundraising efforts for the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; School of Public Policy; School of Education; University Extension; Athletics; and UCR Library.

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Roxanne Elliott ’00, has gained understanding and recovery from clinical depression and is living a fulfilling life with many travels and interesting career paths as a luxury driver, writer, property manager, and estate conservator. Recently, Elliot has been learning how to fly small planes, like the Cessna 172. She also continues her passion for salsa dancing. She would like anyone who suffers from clinical depression to know they are not alone.

Darwin Bustarde ’01, is serving as the 2023 president of the Bar Association of Northern San Diego County. He and his wife, Melissa Bustarde ’02 (formerly Melissa Qualls) are the first husband and wife to have served as president. The couple first met in Watkins Hall before a political science class in 2000 and will celebrate 20 years of marriage this year.

Ashley Green ’06, recently published “ABC I Love Me!: A Journal For Fostering Healthy Self Esteem in Children ages 8-12.” Available on Amazon, the book aims to help preteens explore their relationship to the world, their loved ones, and themselves while practicing self-acceptance.

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Tamra Simpson ’11, a children’s book author and poet, has written three books: “Taming Tori’s Tiger” and “Reaching for a Dream,” published by B&N Press; and “A Poet’s Opinion,” published by Amazon Digital Services. The books aim to close the representation gap in literature by adding to the small number of books published by Black authors.

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Jonathan Fernandez ’20, recently accepted the sports reporter position at the Argus Leader in South Dakota. He previously covered sports for UCR’s student-run newspaper, The Highlander.

Daniel Yang ’21, is one of the youngest senior financial analysts at Sony Pictures Entertainment. Yang works to budget and forecast over 50 departments and 400+ capital projects, improving financial reporting, analysis, and more for projects worldwide.



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