Pioneer Alumna Marion Howard Hoekenga announced 2021 Alumni Survey giveaway winner

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Marion Howard Hoekenga on a plein air trip with classmates (Ansel Adams) 

All participants of the 2021 Alumni Survey were automatically entered into a drawing for a getaway trip to Santa Cruz with hotel accommodations at the Dream Inn. The winner of the initial draw is pioneer alumna Marion Howard Hoekenga, who is unable to travel to Santa Cruz in the coming year. The UCSC Alumni Engagement team will be sending a package to Hoekenga bringing UCSC to her in her home in Nevada. Kira Gaber is the winner of the second drawing for the getaway trip. 

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to all that participated in the Alumni Survey. 

Marion Howard Hoekenga, better known by her friends as “Happy” (Cowell ’69, History, Art History), was one of the first students to set foot on the UC Santa Cruz campus when it opened its doors in 1965.

The new UC campus was still a radical idea while Howard Hoekenga was growing up in San Mateo, but she had deep ties to Santa Cruz. Her maternal great grandparents owned a pharmacy on Pacific Ave, and their sons established a successful local real estate business in 1906, so Howard Hoekenga visited Santa Cruz frequently. She was familiar with the little beach town— so when it was time for her to apply for colleges UC Santa Cruz stuck out as one of her top picks. 

“Santa Cruz was my second home, really,” Howard Hoekenga said. “I heard about the campus, and it sounded really cool that there was going to be a UC campus in Santa Cruz. It was iffy whether or not the campus was going to open when I was ready to go right out of high school, but they did it. They opened UC Santa Cruz in ’65, and the rest is history.”

The art major had not yet been established when she was a first-year, but Howard Hoekenga was determined to pursue art. She took multiple art courses and majored in History with a minor in Art History. She contemplated transferring schools to pursue an art degree, but ultimately decided to stay at UCSC after falling in love with the campus, the university’s philosophy, and the people she met along the way. 

“It was a hard place to leave once you got your bearings,” Howard Hoekenga said. “I met some really fun, interesting people, and it really felt like a community. I knew that if I transferred —even to another UC campus —I’d have to start all over again, and it wouldn’t have that same community feeling.” 

Howard Hoekenga said she was happy with her decision to stay and ended up taking courses with iconic professors like Page Smith, John Dizikes, Jasper Rose, and Beatrice Thompson who left an impact on her life and career path. 

In her third year, Howard Hoekenga and other painting students gathered their supplies and took a trip to the meadows at the West end of campus. Ansel Adams — who UC President Clark Kerr commissioned to document the new campus at the time — took photos of the painting students in their element. 

Adams shot a photo of Howard Hoekenga that day. Over five decades later, Howard Hoekenga laid eyes on the photo of herself for the first time on UCSC’s website after being announced the winner of the Alumni Survey giveaway. 

“As you scrolled down, there were all these familiar sites, and then all of a sudden that picture was there, and I’m thinking ‘that looks like the day we were out painting’ and then I looked again and said ‘wait that’s me,’” Howard Hoekenga said. “That was the first time I really saw that photo, and I was doubly surprised to hear that it was actually in his collection.” 

In 1969 Howard Hoekenga graduated with the first-ever four-year graduating class from UCSC with a B.A. in History and a minor in Art History. She later went back to school at the University of Nevada Las Vegas to pursue a B.A. in Art and is now the Vice President of the Boulder City Art Guild based in Southern Nevada. 

Congratulations to pioneer alumna Marion Howard Hoekenga, and thank you to all that participated in the Alumni Survey. Results of the survey will be announced in late April.