Dark blue background with bokeh effect. There is a gold statue illustration with a title "The Aggies" and subheading of "51st Annual UC Davis Alumni Awards on Thursday, May 2, 2024."

UC Davis to honor stellar alumni and friends at 51st Alumni Awards gala

The University of California, Davis, Cal Aggie Alumni Association has announced the recipients of its 2024 Alumni Awards, an annual program that recognizes remarkable impacts made by alumni and friends of the university.

This year’s winners are leaders in technology, health care, civil advocacy and higher education. All have dedicated their time and resources to create life-changing opportunities for students at UC Davis and around the world.  

The Cal Aggie Alumni Association, or CAAA, which serves more than 314,000 UC Davis graduates, has chosen to honor:

  • Aggie Service Award — Neptaly “Taty” Aguilera ’73
  • Emil M. Mrak International Impact Award — Adriana Gascoigne ’00
  • Lifetime Achievement Award — Sandra Reed, M.D. ’85
  • Distinguished Friends of the University — Cathy and Bob Kerr

“This year’s honorees are shining examples of how people can find their greatest fulfillment when they pursue their passions,” said Dana Allen, assistant vice chancellor and executive director of CAAA. “Their collective impacts have greatly served our campus, state, country and the world. We are excited to honor them and thank them for their roles in growing our abundant Aggie Pride.”

The 51st Alumni Awards gala, “The Aggies,” will take place at the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center at UC Davis on Thursday, May 2, at 5 p.m.

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Aggie Service Award: Neptaly Taty Aguilera

Headshot of Neptaly Aguilera

Aguilera first learned about activism as a student, sparking a passion that led to a 40-year civil-service career dedicated to fostering social justice and providing educational opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds.

Among his accomplishments, Aguilera was instrumental in organizing California’s first Equal Employment Opportunity conference and founding the Chicano Latino State Employees Association, the largest organization of its kind in the state. He also led efforts to bring the annual César Chávez Youth Leadership Conference to UC Davis over 20 years ago. 

Recently retired, Aguilera remains busier than ever. He serves as co-chair and co-founder of the University of California Chicanx Latinx Alumni Association and is the alumni representative to the UC Office of the President’s Chicano Latino Advisory Council.

And Aguilera is deeply connected to his alma mater through volunteerism he often calls a “labor of love.” He is a member of the UC Davis Health Community Advisory Board and UC Davis’ Hispanic-Serving Institution Community Council, which seeks to boost recruitment, retention and graduation numbers among the Chicanx and Latinx student populations. From 2017 to 2023, Aguilera served on CAAA’s Board of Directors.

Emil M. Mrak International Impact Award: Adriana Gascoigne

Headshot of Adriana Gascoigne

Gascoigne is the founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, or GIT, a Nashville-based nonprofit dedicated to eliminating the gender gap in tech. GIT boasts 35 chapters throughout the world and comprises an active, engaged community of more than 130,000 members. With hundreds of events and programs held throughout the year, GIT gives women everywhere access to learn new skills and advance their careers.

Through her leadership at GIT, Gascoigne has improved diversity in the tech workforce, encouraged policy change at government, corporate and community levels and inspired women to pursue any career they wish. She is also the author of Tech Boss Lady: How to Start-Up, Disrupt, and Thrive as a Female Founder and a board member on Harvard Kennedy School’s Women in Public Policy Program.

She was named one of the 20 most influential Latinos in technology by CNET in 2018. In 2022, she gave her time and talent as a panelist for the inaugural Women & Philanthropy Wisdom of Women Symposium at UC Davis.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Sandra L. Reed

Headshot of Sandra Reed

Friends and colleagues describe Reed as a brilliant innovator in the medical field and one of the most generous servant leaders to UC Davis and beyond. Reed retired as a Navy medical doctor, and had previously served as an officer in the Marine Corps — a rarity for the branch of the military where even four decades later, women would make up just 10% of officers.

Between those two stints in the military, she earned her M.D. at UC Davis, in 1985. She then completed a residency in internal medicine at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield and later began a fellowship at the VA in Martinez. She left the fellowship to serve in the Navy, where she completed her training in pulmonary and critical care medicine. During her career as a Navy physician, she worked at military bases and medical centers throughout North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Helping students achieve their dreams has always been a priority for Reed, which is why has supported the UC Davis School of Medicine with the Sandra L. Reed, M.D. Award, which provides scholarships to veterans who are at the top of their class. She is also a passionate supporter of the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center and gives regularly to the School of Veterinary Medicine “in gratitude for the four-legged companions who have enriched my life.”

Today Reed resides in Michigan, but still finds time to serve in volunteer leadership roles across the university. She chairs the UC Davis Health Campaign Board and is a member of the university’s Global Campaign Leadership Council. Reed also devotes her time as a trustee for the UC Davis Foundation. She previously served on the board of directors for the UC Davis School of Medicine Alumni Association. 

Distinguished Friends of the University: Cathy and Bob Kerr

Cathy and Bob Kerr wearing business casual attire in front of a blurry background with pillars.

Cathy and Bob Kerr embody Aggie Pride in everything they do. For more than 50 years, they have been engaged campus community members whose professional, personal, civic and philanthropic pursuits have made significant and lasting contributions to UC Davis.

Bob Kerr began his 42-year career at UC Davis in 1972, serving in many administrative capacities and advancing UC Davis’ goals in critical areas such as housing, recreation, fundraising, alumni relations and international initiatives. Cathy Kerr’s long history of engagement with UC Davis has included working as a controller for Sodexo and University Dining Services for 30 years.

Longtime supporters of Athletics, particularly women’s basketball, the Kerrs are committed to the success of student-athletes and the entire program. Over 35 years ago, Bob Kerr became the PA announcer for women’s basketball home games, where he has been a fan-favorite ever since.

The Kerrs are also champions of the Arboretum and Public Garden, CAAA, Global Affairs, Manetti Shrem Museum, Mondavi Performing Arts Center and multiple Student Affairs programs. They have created scholarships for studying abroad and expanded international alumni engagement.

Media Resources

Media Contact:

Betsy Towner Levine, Development and Alumni Relations, 530-752-9693, etlevine@ucdavis.edu

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