Inaugural Banana Slug Share sessions will add life and learning to Alumni Week

Generous alumni Slugs will share expertise, impart instant knowledge in a series of hands-on courses


Banana Slugs have a far-ranging curiosity and generous spirit. So it makes sense that an all-star group of Slug alumni would wish to share what they know in a series of informal “classes” during the upcoming all-virtual Alumni Week, this year expanded from a weekend to a full week and set for April 19–25. 

That spirit of "paying it forward" infuses UC Santa Cruz’s inaugural Banana Slug Share Sessions, in which alumni will provide hard-won advice. On Monday, April 19, at 10 a.m., attendees will get the "three keys to unstoppable health" from licensed nutritionist Rebecca Hazelton (Rachel Carson '00, psychology). On Sunday, April 25, at 10 a.m., they will learn how to make and bottle their own kombucha rather than paying big bucks for it at a specialty food market, with guidance from Michael Riepe (Oakes ‘91, computer engineering), past president of the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Association. 

Barbara Oden-Petree, assistant director of Alumni Engagement at UC Santa Cruz, was overwhelmed by the outpouring of offers from alumni who wanted to take part in the Banana Slug Share Sessions. 

“Almost 40 alumni raised their hands to share their passion, talent, and expertise with other alumni during this year's Alumni Week," she said. “When this idea first came up, we were hoping to find 6 to 12 alumni. The 20 alumni selected for the first-ever Banana Slug Share Sessions are creative, generous, fun, and skilled alumni who want to make a difference in the lives of others.”

One unique Banana Slug Share Session, scheduled for Wednesday, April 21, at 11 a.m., will feature rare footage of UC Santa Cruz taken from 1975 and 1977 as part of a “student film documentary and video synth experiment.” 

The wild array of Banana Slug Share Sessions will also include origami, papier mâché, photography, communication techniques, finances, hands-on family events, the art of survival, interpreting dreams, politics, and much more. These sessions are a Slug-style spinoff on the popular online Skillshare courses, though not all of them have an instructional format. One of the sessions, set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 24, will be a half-hour of solo classical music called “Evening Cello: Bach and Beyond," featuring Roger Lebow (Porter ‘71, music), who was a member of the UC Santa Cruz Symphony during its first three years, then went on to a performing career in Los Angeles that embraced orchestral, solo, and chamber music, as well as playing on a couple of hundred motion picture soundtracks. 

These Banana Slug Share Sessions will be a welcome addition to Alumni Week 2021. With some 70 live events planned—from a thought-provoking conversation about the afterlife of slavery with writer and scholar Saidaya Hartman, to a discussion with biomolecular engineer Ed Green about solving crime by using cutting-edge DNA techniques he’s developed, to classes on photography, self-care, and finances—the week has a range of activities to engage alumni of all interests. All events are Pacific Time.