And Trevor makes four! All four Sughrue kids choose UCSC

Trevor Sughrue is the fourth--and final--Sughrue to enroll at UCSC. Photo by J. McNulty.

Trevor Sughrue wants you to know he's his own man, despite the fact that he'll be following in the footsteps of his three older siblings when he enrolls at UCSC this fall.

"I'm the only one to go for a different major. I had to be a little bit different," said a smiling Trevor, who plans to major in bioinformatics; each of his siblings earned bachelor's degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology.

"For me, it was almost a challenge," said Trevor. "Because everyone else had done it, I didn't want to be the one who failed."

Although Trevor's mother, Mersi Sughrue, jokes that it "must be the supplements I put in their milk," there's definitely something about the Sughrue family that produces top students who head to--and thrive at--UCSC. Eldest son Gideon graduated in 1999, followed by Wesley in 2003, and Kaila in 2007. Gideon just completed his medical residency in San Francisco, while Wesley is a doctoral candidate in biochemistry at UC Davis, and Kaila is in veterinary school, also at UC Davis.

Trevor credits now-retired Harbor High School science teacher Nick Bilardello with igniting a passion for biology in all his siblings. "Pretty much everyone in my family had an interest in biology," said Trevor, who graduated with a 4.38 grade point average and earned top grades on the advanced placement tests in biology and calculus, as well as near-perfect scores on the AP tests in European history and English.

Although he spent an average of four hours a day studying, while also pursuing piano, karate, and soccer, Trevor said science "has always been there. The light bulb has always been on."

On his siblings' advice, Trevor chose Cowell College ("they liked the location and said it has the best view and the most interesting core class"). He plans to save money by living at home, but he'll have ready-made bases on campus, because four of his buddies are also enrolling at UCSC this fall, three of whom will live on campus. His academic achievement helped him win several scholarships, which will also keep the cost of college down.

Trevor's brother Gideon, the unwitting trendsetter in the family, liked how approachable UCSC professors were and said biochemistry proved a valuable foundation for medical school, while Wesley chose UCSC in part because undergraduates have so many opportunities to participate in research. The 18 months he spent working alongside world-class researchers in a UCSC biophysics lab confirmed his interest in--and talent for--scientific exploration.

Trevor's sister, Kaila, calls her brother's enrollment at UCSC a "clean sweep for the family" and says she can't wait to get back to Santa Cruz after finishing vet school. UCSC gave her a "very solid base" on which to build her career, she said.

All four kids grew up familiar with the campus; their father, John, has been a groundskeeper for more than 20 years. Trevor was so determined to go to UCSC that he didn't apply to any other schools, a decision his parents supported. "It's a great school. It's about the science opportunities at UCSC," said Mersi Sughrue. "Why would we need to go any place else?"

The concentration of scientists in the family doesn't faze parents Mersi and John Sughrue, who majored in dance and English, respectively. "There have always been lively dinner-table conversations about science, and Trevor always listened," recalled Mersi Sughrue. "He's smart. He can't help himself."

Asked if family expectations played a role in the success of her children, Mersi Sughrue said, "All we ever asked was that they did their personal best." Gideon, their first son, set a good example with a strong work ethic, and the rest "fell into place. It never was a struggle, really."

"They're all really wonderful kids," she added. "They're going to make great contributions to the world. We couldn't be prouder."