True Triton Awards
Meet the Honorees
Service is one of the pillars of UC San Diego’s mission and vision — it’s in our DNA. To recognize alumni who have shown an extraordinary commitment to the university and our cause, we created the True Triton Award, one of our highest honors.
These individuals go above and beyond to help advance our mission, on campus, in the community, and around the world. Whether by dedicating time to students and alumni, lending leadership skills to university initiatives, or acting as ambassadors for UC San Diego and higher education, True Tritons’ passion for their alma mater is both inspirational and aspirational.
Nominate a True Triton
UC San Diego has a history of embracing curiosity. The same is true of the more than 200K alumni out there in the world: Tritons who are expanding their horizons and reaching beyond their comfort zones. Every day, Tritons are making a difference at home, in their communities and around the globe. Nominate a True Triton today!
Diana Fakhrai has a love for UC San Diego that goes as far back as her childhood and has endured through the years. She grew up in graduate student housing and attended early childhood education at the university, leaving her with many fond memories. From swimming and gymnastics classes, to tennis camp – and even her first job at 16 (dispensing frozen yogurt) – much of Diana’s early life experiences took place on campus. As a student, Diana attended UC San Diego’s Revelle College for her undergraduate degree and the School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) for her graduate degree, before moving on to law school.
As an adult, Diana’s love for her alma mater has only grown; both of her children were delivered at UC San Diego Medical Center and her daughter attended early childhood education on campus, just as her mother had so many years before.
Hamna Khan graduated from UC San Diego (Warren College) with a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering. She currently works as a Technology and National Security Fellow for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in Washington D.C.
From 2019-21, Hamna served as the President of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Alumni Advisory Board, where she developed the ECE Alumni Mentorship Program. Since its launch, the ECE program has helped to connect current students with more than 200 alumni. Hamna’s involvement with the Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Steering Committee began at its inception in 2019, where she works as a volunteer to build a stronger alumni community with recent graduates. In addition, Hamna regularly gives her time to assist students and alumni alike, and plans to continue her service to the UC San Diego community for years to come.
Bryan Knox is the General Manager at Catalent San Diego (formerly Pharmatek), a contract dosage form development and GMP manufacturing organization. Prior to becoming the General Manager (2017), he served as the Senior Director of Pharmaceutics and has a broad background in preclinical and clinical drug development and manufacturing of small molecules and peptides.
For the past 20 years, he has been deeply involved in providing opportunities for UC San Diego students to gain professional experience while completing their undergraduate studies. That work culminated in Bryan becoming a founding partner of the Biological Sciences Corporate Affiliate Program (BioCAP), launched at UC San Diego in 2021. Many of the students have since transitioned into full-time roles with the organization after graduation. He earned his MBA from UC San Diego's Rady School of Management and his bachelor of science in biochemistry from UC San Diego. He is married to fellow Triton, Andrea, and shares two amazing children with her.
First in his family to attend a university, Edward Spriggs was among the initial African American graduates from our campus, founding the Black Students’ Council in 1967 and the first student-led outreach program to local high schools in 1969. He went on to earn a JD from NYU. Later Ed joined the Agency for International Development where his appointments included Assistant General Counsel in Washington, aid director in Namibia and regional director for Southern Africa in Botswana. Throughout his 22 year USAID career, he strongly supported democracy and sustainable development programs.
Ed returned to his alma mater in 2001 as Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Over the next 13 years he helped lead the expansion of student services and facilities such as the RIMAC Annex, and the creation of The Loft and the Black Resource Center. Over the years, Ed has served as Chair of the UC San Diego Black Alumni Council and is currently co-Chair of the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund board. His goal is to improve diversity and the Black student experience on campus. Ed is currently in his third term on the Imperial Beach City Council. He and his wife Leah have six children and seven grandchildren, all of whom, like Ed, love to ski.
Lois Yu is a Senior Project Leader at the Aerospace Corporation, a nonprofit agency overseeing space programs. She has previously held roles as an engineering program manager and engineer in Department of Defense programs. Lois credits her studies at UC San Diego for the foundation of her career. Her degrees include an MS in statistics, MS in geosciences and a BA double major in applied mathematics and Chinese studies. She also earned three UC San Diego extension engineering certifications after graduation.
She is a champion for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math – the STEM fields. She is grateful to UC San Diego for invitations to participate on panels, mentor students, contribute to scholarships and research fellowships, and since 2019 serve as the Chair of the UC San Diego’s Division of Physical Sciences Dean’s Leadership Council. The council members are strategic partners that are happy to be multipliers to support the university to better engage with industry and better prepare students to positively impact the world.
Janet “Jan” Fisher is a passionate and dedicated volunteer at UC San Diego. She’s been an active participant with the Los Angeles alumni chapter and the Black Alumni Council for many years. As a strong supporter of higher education, she has funded the William C. and Anita Fisher Scholarship to benefit Black students, and considers volunteering at UC San Diego an important facet of her life.
Sheri Jamieson is a devoted volunteer, fundraiser and philanthropist at UC San Diego. She was one of the early members of the UC San Diego Cancer Center Board and later became one of its founding donors. In addition, she founded and served as President of the University Art Gallery Board, created the Dean’s Advisory Council of Arts and Humanities and chaired the opening of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center.
William “Bill” Proffer is a volunteer champion who has devoted countless hours mentoring engineering students at Jacobs School of Engineering, and shares his scientific and technical expertise with student entrepreneurs at The Basement. He serves as a judge and hosts poster workshops at the JSOE Research Expo and has participated as an executive member on the UC San Diego Alumni Board of Directors.
Leo Spiegel is a longtime contributor at UC San Diego. He serves as a Trustee of the UC San Diego Foundation where he is the Chair of the Trustee Recruitment and Engagement Committee and is a member of the International Leadership Committee, Campaign for UC San Diego. He is also a member of the Dean's Advisory Council at the Rady School of Management.
Sam Knight ’73 has been a philanthropic supporter of UC San Diego since 1982 and championing faculty and student-centered alumni efforts since 2003, dedicating countless hours and resources to his alma mater. His contributions include serving as a member of Chancellor's Associates, UC San Diego Alumni Board, Vice Chair of the Jacobs School Alumni Council (and past chair), UC San Diego Library Advisory Board, co-founder of the UC San Diego Guardians, Jacobs School Undergraduate Mentor (JUMP), patron of the ASME’s Human Powered Submarine team, hot chocolate provider to Canyonview lifeguards, and Mexican lunch caterer to the swim team during their winter break “hell weeks”. Most recently, Sam has initiated a series of successful “Alumni 101” workshops across campus designed to connect students with alumni on professional development topics. Watch Video
Wendy Kwok ’99 serves on many boards and committees across campus, and takes an active leadership role in each. She has been instrumental in making valuable connections for the University, leadership, local alumni and students both locally and internationally. Specifically, Wendy has gone the extra mile by serving as a co-chair for the Bay Area region of the Campaign Cabinet, Director for the UC San Diego Foundation Board, member of the Biological Sciences Dean’s Leadership Council, sponsor and mentor with the Eureka! Student scholarship program, creator of two unique endowments in the Division of Biological Sciences, and supporter of the Student Foundation (has attended UC Regents meetings in the Bay Area and Sacramento).
Robert (Bob) Rex is a longtime contributor and friend to Scripps. He graduated in 1958 and is still on campus nearly every day. Over the past several decades, Bob has shared millions in philanthropic support to Scripps; and especially enjoys providing opportunities for students in need. He’s devoted countless hours to working with faculty and graduate students on research and has a special interest in enhancing diversity. Watch Video
Together, Sue and Steve Hart have been amazing champions for UC San Diego. Their support and enthusiasm spans the entire campus, from the Jacobs School of Engineering to the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Imagination, and almost everything in between. Through partnerships with his company Viasat, Steve has greatly expanded career exploration and internship opportunities for UC San Diego students.
Sue and Steve have both served in leadership capacities on many UC San Diego boards and councils, including the Alumni Board of Directors, Physical Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council, and UC San Diego Foundation Board. Currently, they are Vice Chairs for the International Leadership Committee of the Campaign for UC San Diego Cabinet.
Otis Watson is a dedicated, enthusiastic and inclusive volunteer leader at UC San Diego. He is a long-time member of the UC San Diego Silicon Valley Regional Club, advising in the logistical planning of the club’s annual Summer Send-Off event for incoming students. He has served as a mentor to these students and for the Life101 UC San Diego Career Services Conference.
For years, Otis has been a strong advocate for UC San Diego Athletics, bringing athletes and alumni together when Triton teams compete in the Bay Area. From 2007-2010, he served as a member of the Alumni Board of Directors.
Otis is passionate about diversity and encourages community connections between students and alumni as a member of the UC San Diego Diversity Council and Black Alumni Council.
2017 RecipientsView True Triton Honorees Video
Jerri Malana is an employment law attorney and community volunteer. She serves as a Chief Deputy District Attorney with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, where she manages the human resources division and advises on civil law matters. She is a past president of the San Diego County Bar Association, and she has served in numerous leadership positions for multiple organizations.
Jerri is a past president of the UC San Diego Alumni Association, and a current Trustee on the UC San Diego Foundation Board. She is an active volunteer leader across campus, serving students and alumni in pre-law, Marshall College and OASIS/Summer Bridge. She received a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from UC San Diego’s Marshall College, an M.B.A. from Chaminade University, and Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law.
Emmy Sobieski is a CFA Senior Research Analyst at Nicholas Investment Partners and member of the Economic Leadership Council at UC San Diego. She continues to give back to her alma mater as a career speaker, panelist and mentor to promote student professional success, and has also created training sessions to help prepare students for networking and job hunting. Emmy is co-founder of the campus’s Rising Leaders Scholarship Program, providing career-launching opportunities for undergraduates interested in investment banking, finance, or general business.
Junling Sun is president of Sun Engineering Consultants International and was the chief engineer of the Shibanpo Bridge in Chongqing, China—the largest box girder bridge in the world. Junling has continued to give back to the Triton community by building strong alumni networks in China, offering students internship opportunities, and making donations to the chancellor’s scholarship initiatives. Sun has been a member of the UC San Diego Board of Trustees since 2012 and is a founding member of the campus’ 21st Century China Center.
While at UC San Diego, Ping Yeh was a four-year letter winner and captain of the Triton men’s tennis team. Now he serves as the UC San Diego Alumni Board Director, president of the UC San Diego Twin Cities Alumni Group, and advisor to student entrepreneurs at The Basement. Yeh is also Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at StemoniX, Inc.
Ping has been an exceptional advocate for UC San Diego from the moment he stepped on campus as an undergraduate, acting as a leader and role model for his classmates across university organizations and causes. As a student, he co-founded the Student Foundation and the DeCAF career fair, was president of the Triton Engineering Student Council, and chair of the Triton Athlete’s Council.
This highly engaged couple established the Bay Area Summer Send-Off more than 25 years ago, our largest and longest-running volunteer-led welcome event for incoming students and their families. For decades, Marion and Colette have strengthened the alumni community in Silicon Valley and set the example as leaders and volunteers in various capacities, such as organizing the annual Post-Tax Day Hike, and both serving terms as club president.
Colette is a former UC San Diego Alumni Board member and she and Marion continue to inspire and befriend our emerging alumni as they transition from campus to community.
Manuelita Brown is the Director of UC San Diego’s Honor Achievement Workshops and member of UC San Diego Alumni’s Black Alumni Council and the UC San Diego Alumni Board of Directors. Since 2003, she has chaired the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund Committee and served as liaison between the UC San Diego Foundation, its scholarship office and the San Diego Foundation. Manuelita is an artist who aims to create bronze sculptures that represent and capture the human spirit. Some of her familiar work includes the Sojourner Truth and UC San Diego Triton figures that reside on campus. View Video
Chris Yanov is the founder of Reality Changers, a San Diego-based program providing youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with the academic support, financial assistance and leadership training to become first-generation college students. Since Chris founded Reality Changers in 2001, the program has helped award nearly five million dollars in scholarships to inner-city students. Yanov was selected as an inaugural leader of the San Diego Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention and also served as the chair of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Education and Workforce Development Committee. View Video
Steve Schreiner has played a pivotal role in shaping a strong UC San Diego alumni presence. After five years of service on the Alumni Association Board, Steve became its president in 1995 and served until 1997. He also served as chair of Chancellor’s Associates from 2004 to 2005. In 2003, he was appointed as UC San Diego representative to the UC Committee on Regental Rotation. His invaluable work made him a clear choice to serve as UC San Diego’s third Alumni Regent, during which time he helped develop the Regents’ first written report on alumni contributions to the University. He also successfully lobbied UC’s Office of the President to increase administrative funds for campus development and alumni relations operations.
Steve serves on the UC San Diego Foundation board as nominating committee chair. When not serving UC San Diego as an alumni leader, Steve has also achieved success in his career as an attorney, having been named one of "Southern California's Top‐Rated Lawyers" by American Lawyer Media and the Los Angeles Times.
Neville Billimoria is senior vice president of membership/marketing and chief advocacy officer advancing the social purpose and community engagement strategies for Mission Fed, a $3.5 billion locally focused organization serving over 240,000 member-owners exclusively in the San Diego community. Neville was the recipient of UC San Diego’s inaugural True Triton Award in 2013 for his leadership, advocacy, volunteerism and service across campus. He is a recognized thought leader and sought after expert in purpose branding and civic/community engagement initiatives. Neville received his Bachelor of Arts in Communication from UC San Diego’s Muir College and has taught martial arts on campus to thousands of students for more than 38 years. View Video
Start a Nomination
We’re seeking nominations for the True Triton Awards, recognizing exceptional volunteers, and the UC San Diego Alumni Awards, showcasing four different categories of impact. This is your opportunity to recognize exceptional alumni who have made a significant difference.