Kathleen and Mark Santora, parents of two UCI alumni, stand in front of the Santora Elite Training Center on campus. Photo: Steve Zylius/UCI

Parent Engagement beyond Graduation

“All parents know that our work is never done,” says Mark Santora, parent of two recently graduated UCI students. He and his wife, Kathleen, have stayed engaged as donors and advocates of the university years after their children graduated, Kevin in 2010 and Kristen in 2014.

“UCI enabled our son and daughter to grow and mature through new and varied experiences in a safe, competitive and independent setting,” says Mark Santora. “We chose to get involved to show our appreciation and gratitude.”

As parents of a former captain of the NCCA Division 1 men’s soccer team, their decision to give back to UCI Athletics was simple.

“Like our students, UCI parents have the opportunity to make a difference in the world. UCI is stronger and more impactful when parents are engaged.”

Kevin Santora, Kathleen and Mark's son, after winning the Big West Soccer Championship Cup.

They had watched their son thrive in UCI’s dynamic, culturally diverse and supportive environment. “He was challenged in the classroom and on the soccer field to be his best self,” says Kathleen Santora.

Initially intending to upgrade Anteater Stadium, the couple soon realized that they could have a much greater impact by investing in a new, state-of-the-art sports performance and weight training facility. The Santora Elite Training Center, dedicated in November 2014, continues to help all UCI student-athletes succeed both on and off the field.

Over the years, Kathleen and Mark Santora have found new ways to fuel their passions. They joined the Chancellor’s Club, a group that supports the university’s greatest needs, such as providing graduate fellowships to first-generation college students. They were also most recently welcomed to the UCI Foundation Board of Trustees.

With so many opportunities to get involved across campus, the Santoras believe it is never too early or too late to power one’s passions at UCI.

Beyond attending campus events like student performances and athletic competitions, parents of UCI alumni enjoy volunteering as Anteater Parent Ambassadors. They serve as mentors to current parents by hosting Anteater Welcome Receptions or Parent & Family Coffee Socials. The latter brings parents and family members together in local neighborhoods throughout California and around the world to connect, share experiences and receive campus updates

UCI parents and family members zot at an Anteater Welcome Reception.

Current and former UCI parents may also join the Parent Executive Board, a group of trusted advisers and philanthropic partners to the university. In less than two years since its formation, the PEB has more than doubled to 23 families.

“Like our students, UCI parents have the opportunity to make a difference in the world,” says Kathleen Santora. “UCI is stronger and more impactful when parents are engaged.”

Being engaged can mean many different things for current and former UCI parents. From attending events and volunteering to mentoring incoming parents and giving, parents can choose which level of involvement feels right for them.

Want to learn more about opportunities for current and former UCI parents?