Past Recipients: Outstanding Recent Alumna

The Outstanding Recent Alumna Award was established in 1992 to honor an alum still in the early stages of their life’s work, but who nonetheless has “used her Scripps education in the quest for personal excellence; demonstrated a willingness to seek out challenges and take risks; and has maintained loyalty to the Scripps community.” The award is presented each year during Reunion Weekend.

Latest Recipient: Pacifica Sommers ’07

Pacifica Sommers ’07 is a microbial ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she studies the viruses, bacteria, and other microscopic organisms that live on and around glaciers in mountains, the high Arctic, and in Antarctica. These microscopic ecosystems form natural laboratories for understanding larger systems, but they are also important to characterize in their own right because they are increasingly disrupted by a warming climate, which may lead to important feedback cycles that either exacerbate or mitigate the effects of climate change. Pacifica received her PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2016 from the University of Arizona, where she studied the impact of an invasive grass species on native desert plants. Part of her doctoral work was funded by the NASA-Arizona Space Grant to pilot an outdoor science school for high school students at a mountain-top astronomy observatory. In its first nine years, the Sky School program grew from 100 students who attended the first year to serving over 1,000 southern Arizona students annually. It provided opportunities to dozens of graduate students to hone their skills in mentoring original projects and in communicating scientific concepts. Pacifica is now helping to organize the second-ever expedition of Girls on Rock, a tuition-free backcountry expedition for high school girls (inclusively defined) from communities with limited opportunities. During the two-week program in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, participants explore their environment and challenge themselves through technical rock climbing, art, and scientific research. Pacifica has also worked with government agencies and nonprofit organizations from Nevada to Washington, D.C., to promote stewardship of our public lands and climate through legislation and agency action. She graduated with a BA in biology from Scripps College in 2007.

Past Recipients

Year Alumna Position
2021 Alison Omens ’06 Chief Strategy Officer at JUST Capital; co-founder of Smash Squad
2020 Eun Ji Chung ’06 Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California, the Karl Jacob Jr. and Karl Jacob III Early Career Chair
2019 Eli Winkelman ’07 Founder, CRAFT; co-founder, Challah for Hunger
2018 Jess Heaney ’08 Community Organizer
2017 Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik ’02 Artist and Educator
2016 Natalie Naylor ’02 Labor Leader
2015 Catharine Burhenne-Sanderson ’11 Co-Founder of Ask the Dentist and Reelgood
2014 Kateri Dodds Simpson ’04 Founder, East Oakland DREAMers
2013 Annelise Cohon ’07 National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN)
2012 Veronica Gledhill ’06 Fashion Stylist and Editorial Consultant
2011 Vanessa Lee ’98 Attorney
2010 Amy Drayer ’99 Associate Director, GLBT Community Center of Colorado
2009 Jenny Sedlis ’04 Harlem Success Academy
2008 Gina Brownstein ’99 Founder and Executive Director, Five 4 Five
2007 Jennifer Minasian Trotoux ’92 Architectural historian and historic preservation planner
2006 Kelly St. John Regier ’96 Journalist and Documentary Film Maker
2005 Karen Deutsch ’97 Humanitarian
2004 Gabrielle Giffords ’93 United States Representative (D-AZ)
2000 Yvette Herrera ’85 Marketing Executive and Community Volunteer
1998 Karen Tse ’86 Human Rights Activist
1997 Johanna Greenberg ’85 Veterinarian and Artist
1996 Linda Himmelstein ’84 Journalist
1995 Christine Lippert ’82 Chef
1994 Victoria Amour-Hileman ’79 Lay Missioner
1993 Hannah Nyala ’91 Anthropologist
1992 Amy Wind ’77 Civil Rights Lawyer