The best thing about being a part of the alumni community is the ability to connect with others through shared UPrep experiences. We may all be from different generations, but I find many of the same feelings and ideas carry through to almost every alum I encounter.” –Blake Titcomb '09
Welcome, UPrep Alumni!
University Prep’s alumni are essential members of our community. UPrep has grown and developed over the years and our 2,000+ alumni continue to play an invaluable role in the history and the future of the school.
As alumni, you have opportunities to network with fellow Puma grads, mentor students, attend events, and stay connected with your alma mater. We hope this site helps you to maintain your connections to the UPrep community—whether you’d like to visit campus, share your latest news, update your contact information, or RSVP for an upcoming event.
The UPrep Advancement Team is here to keep you connected to your classmates, friends, and teachers, and to keep you informed about current events on campus. We want to hear from you! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet UPrep's Alumni Manager
Advancement Engagement & Alumni Manager
UPrep alumni excel in a wide variety of ways. Click on the names below to read about some extraordinary Puma grads!
Emi Meyer '05
*Photo credit: Fendi Japan
Emi, a jazz pianist and singer-songwriter, works and lives with her husband and children in Tokyo, Japan, and Seattle. Her 2009 debut album "Curious Creature" reached number one on Japan's iTunes Jazz Charts. Her 2019 album "Wings" was recorded in Nashville's Blackbird studio, and her songs have been featured in commercials and on TV shows including MTV's Awkward and TV Land's Younger.
What is it like working and living in two different cultures?
Artistically speaking, different things resonate to different cultures. For example, some songs are more popular than others depending on the country. I love the perspective that working in two cultures gives you - it's a great reminder that something successful in one place doesn't necessarily translate to another place, and therefore you should protect your integrity and believe in what you create no matter what other people's opinions are. There is an audience for it somewhere!
How did UPrep help form your identity?
I definitely enjoyed Music Day as a way to develop my identity as a musician in front of many people! There were so many different genres performed, and it was moving to see a supportive student audience for all the performers! The day after a performance, teachers and students I wouldn't normally talk to would start a conversation with me about my piano playing, and I remember thinking how music can shrink the distance between strangers. I also vividly remember my trip to Mexico with my Spanish class. It was very eye opening to travel abroad without my parents and experience new sights and tastes on my own.
KALEN FLETCHER '06
Kalen is a clinical social worker with a public health background. She works with hematology oncology patients, predominantly bone marrow transplant patients, and creates programs for patients and families experiencing critical illness. She also conducts research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, working to understand how to best support patients and families experiencing cancer, particularly at the end of life. Kalen lives with her husband, Elias, and their pitbull, Lily, in Boston.
Why did you decide to work with patients and their families?
My grandfather passed away from Multiple Myeloma while I was in college. During this horribly stressful, sad time, I noticed the poor communication between the medical providers and my family. I thought there had to be ways to make these times less challenging for patients and families and to help folks navigate these situations.
What has helped you adjust to your changing work role during the pandemic?
A lot of the patients I work with are incredibly resilient—they have taught me a lot. They had to self-isolate long before the pandemic. They are teaching their friends and family to make a routine and talk with friends and families who are not within their household. I tell my patients when you are feeling out of control, find the things in your day that you can control, like when you wake up, how much news you watch, and utilizing technology to create meaningful connections with people.
How did your UPrep education help prepare you for the global pandemic?
UPrep prepared me to think creatively. My career isn’t necessarily one with a linear trajectory. I kind of had to create it myself, and my UPrep education really provided the foundation for thinking that way. The coursework I thought I wouldn’t do well in helped build my confidence, like Biology class and understanding Shakespeare. There are days when I am presented with a task and I think, “I’ve never done this before.” But my experiences at UPrep gave me confidence and the knowledge that I can use my creative thinking to complete the task.
ELIOT STORER '08
Eliot is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology at Rice University. His research engages environmental management, planetary thinking, and energy systems with a particular emphasis on climate change solution projects.
Why are you passionate about working on climate change solutions?
It is worth stating simply: we are in a climate emergency. You don’t need an anthropologist to tell you that, so a humanist’s role is about figuring out how the ongoing effects of this crisis shape our social worlds, and vice versa. I specifically research land use practices—like ecological restoration—that are being reimagined as “carbon solutions” to mitigate climate change. Are these simple solutions or do they over-simplify the problem? This question led me to the carbon-rich blanket bogs of northern Scotland for a year of fieldwork, where I worked alongside peatland ecologists, interviewed government bureaucrats, conservationists, and local residents, and sifted through the archives.
I am now completing my Ph.D. in Houston, the petrochemical capital of the world, where one could probably spend their life trying to understand this city’s role in the cultural politics of climate change. Perhaps one must!
How did UPrep help you form your identity?
Our trip to Samoa the second year of Global Link, of course. I will always remember when a local villager pointed out to Raija [Sanford ’07] and me the evidence of sea-level rise on “Return to Paradise” beach. In 2007! Upon returning home, I found Margaret Mead’s anthropology classic Coming of Age in Samoa. Still, I don’t think one actually needs to leave King County to find global citizenship; a classroom experience in the humanities is also a necessary component. I first encountered Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, Dante’s Inferno, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X in Mr. Paduano’s UPrep English class. I think about them all the time—not because I simply read them, but because they were taught to me.
ANDY PHAM '15
Photo credit: Raul Barron Photography
A graduate of Macalester College, Andy Pham '15 is a Youth Engagement Coordinator at Seattle's Neighborhood House. He works with 30 to 35 students each week, designing curriculum while tutoring and building relationships with them. Andy is glad to be working with an organization that partners with diverse individuals and families to build community and achieve their goals for health, education, and self-sufficiency.
Why are you passionate about working in community engagement?
A college study abroad program in Thailand was a pivotal time for me. The work we did there was a collaborative grassroots approach that had us living with people in various villages to learn about their needs. It changed the way I think about global politics. At the Neighborhood House, I work in the tutoring center with children who have experienced trauma. I love working with these kids, not to save them but to help offer them the best academic life possible. They're why I fight against the larger forces of poverty and racial injustice.
Why do you think building community is an integral part of your work?
With the rise of technology and our fast-paced economy, we are losing the art of knowing and trusting one another. I think community is a place where we can come face to face with each other, to be raw and real, and to be a network of support for each other. Social justice work requires radical collaboration - without knowing your neighbors and their needs, wants, and fears, this work can't be done.
What UPrep experiences helped form your identity?
Being part of the ultimate frisbee team made me a more confident person. Coach Moses Rifkin's leadership inspired me. He expected so much out of us - he pushed us, while helping shape us by recognizing our talents and weaknesses. My advisor Karen Natorp Anderson was always checking in on me and was so supportive; she made me feel like a good human every day.
James Pabiniak '12
James is the foodbank supervisor at the Shoreline location of Hopelink, a nonprofit organization with five foodbanks that serve people who live in north and east King County. He oversees day-to-day operations, which includes overseeing food acquisitions, working with partner agencies, and preparing food for the food bank. James lives with his girlfriend and cat in Seattle.
How did your UPrep education help prepare you for your role at Hopelink?
My education at UPrep focused on serving the community as part of your lifestyle. This idea was valuable to me and played into what led me to this career path. For the service requirement and for Service Days, we would work with local nonprofit community organizations. I spent plenty of time volunteering at food banks. I have fond memories of volunteering with my friends.
UPrep encouraged us to plan for events as much as possible, and, when unplanned events occur, to have a task-oriented mindset and focus on what you can control. This mindset has become super valuable at Hopelink. I’ve used this skill when planning accommodations, adjusting our distribution due to weather, and our need to focus on speed of service, client comfort, and safety for all.
How has living during a pandemic changed your perspective?
COVID-19 gave me a profound appreciation for what I have: family, friends, and living in such an incredible city. The saying “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” has been true. I didn’t realize the value of things like seeing my parents indoors until this was forbidden. It has also given me a time to consider my future. This has led me to pursue an advanced degree in public administration or public policy.
Danait Yemane '13
Danait is a Project Coordinator at African Services Committee, a nonprofit that provides health, social, and legal services to immigrants, refugees, political asylum seekers, and undocumented persons living in New York City. She's currently working on a research study concerning Hepatitis B.
Why are you passionate about working in public health?
My parents are refugees from Eritrea who left while the country was at war. I saw how much health was neglected in our household, from both a mental and physical perspective, as a result of my parents' traumatic experiences assimilating to their new lives here. I wanted to study something that could teach me the skills I needed to help them, so I chose to major in public health and French, and earned my master's in health policy and human rights. In my current role, I am directly serving communities with the support I wish my parents had when they first arrived in the U.S.
How did UPrep help form your identity?
As an East African woman from a refugee household, I often felt I was navigating two different worlds that existed in the same city. UPrep afforded me an incredible education with passionate teachers and peers in a very privileged space in comparison to that of my community in South Seattle, and I realized I can live in both worlds. I learned that my experience is unique and it's my obligation to give back to those around the world who do not have the privilege and luxuries that we do here.
Teresa Miller '00
A graduate of Barnard College and the Mills College MFA program, Teresa K. Miller won the 2020 National Poetry Series with her poetry collection Borderline Fortune, which was published by Penguin on October 5, 2021. She lives with her partner and cat just south of Portland, Oregon, where she tends a mini orchard.
How do you think poetry can address the issues we face as a species?
Poetry is my metaphysical response, my bearing witness. A poem isn’t going to lower CO2 parts per million in the atmosphere, but there are ways that poetry reaches people emotionally when we can’t speak about politics directly. Poetry isn’t superfluous—it has the capacity to inspire action and emotional change. It’s a way of being in conversation with each other, to feel validated and like we are not alone.
How did UPrep help you form your identity?
I developed confidence in my academic abilities through teachers who were mentors. My math teacher John Jewitt had a quiet respectfulness that showed me I could handle rigorous content. When my father was killed, he came to the funeral, and he later attended the release of my first book. Paul Fleming created an oasis through hosting the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) in his classroom. I’m still in touch with my English teacher Stephen Thomas, who was one of the first published poets I saw in the flesh! My English teacher Vicki O’Keefe had an amazing overflowing love of her subject, and her confidence in me was such a gift. UPrep prepared me for university, which was the launch point for my career.
VIVIAN VOTH '17
In 2019, Vivian hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which covers 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington. Two days after finishing the PCT, she threw her belongings in her car and drove up to Bellingham. A day later, she began attending Western Washington University, where she studies biology with an emphasis on ecology and evolution.
How did hiking the Pacific Crest Trail impact you?
On March 21, 2019, I stood at the Mexican border and looked north. I had no idea what to expect or what the next six months would entail. After completing every step of the trail in a flip flop fashion over the next six months, I stood at Santiam pass with my tongue purple from eating huckleberries, my hands sticky from hugging trees, my legs dirty from the dust, and my heart full. I felt a deep sense of belonging and purpose and was the happiest I have ever been while hiking this trail. It may always be the best six months of my life despite sometimes thinking my feet were broken because they hurt so bad; getting stuck in countless storms and seeing my life flash before my eyes in the form of a purple lightning bolt or icy slope; waking up to wet everything; or being unbearably cold or hot. Experiencing the daily beauty and often simultaneous adversity of such an enormous adventure is a large part of what made the journey so special. The PCT makes you feel alive because it demands to be experienced step by step and breath by breath.
How did UPrep help you form your identity?
I will be forever grateful for the education and experiences I received at UPrep. I felt that every one of my teachers cared about not only offering me a good education, but about my well-being. The cross-country team embodied all the aspects of what it means to be a global citizen. It didn’t matter where you came from, what grade you were in, or how you looked; you were instantly part of the team and cared about as if you were a family member and we’d leave the running trails as we found them. I still consider joining the team as the best decision I made while at UPrep.
JOVAN GAYTON '99 ARCHITECTURE
Recently, Jovan Gayton ’99 talked with us about how UPrep positively impacted his life. An architect at AC Martin Partners, a Los Angeles based architecture firm, Jovan has contributed to several completed projects, including the Museum of Water + Life and a Colfax Elementary School Classroom Building.
In 11th grade, I took an art class taught by Clara Weiss. One assignment instructed us to design your ideal house. I drew upon the influences around me: Puget Sound, lakes, forests, and Seattle. The home I designed was situated partially on land, and partially on the water. When I built a scaled model of the amphibious house, what felt like minutes was an entire night! From that moment, I knew I was going to be an architect.
I remember Jerry Gallaher’s Geometry class. I quickly realized that UPrep students were academically advanced, and this was very apparent in his class. Jerry, like many UPrep teachers, took time to further support me when I needed help. Alec Duxbury ’86 provided similar support, and his class provided a platform to greatly enhance my critical thinking abilities, which helped me to explore and focus on deeper issues contributing to my skillset in architecture.
People! Architecture is truly a service for people. My approach is designed by people for people. I seek to accommodate their needs while also exposing them to other concepts outside of their awareness. I want to share great design with the community that meets and enhances the quality of life of those utilizing the space and the space around it.
The experiences that I had while at UPrep assisted me culturally. UPrep offers balance and an opportunity to learn in a supportive environment. The academics exposed me to different areas of life and new perspectives, all of which prepared me for what could be next after UPrep. When I began college at Woodbury University, I realized I was prepared due to the education I received.
Music Appreciation was an amazing class. Snowboarding and Friday night skiing provided me with a chance to have fun, get to know others, and helped to create amazing memories. I used to conduct breakdance performances and dress up as the Puma mascot at school assemblies. That was fun!
AL MERATI, M.D., '82
Al is a surgeon and chief of Laryngology at UW Medicine's Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery Center. His professional pathway had stops in UC San Diego, Vanderbilt, Kansas University, and the Medical College of Wisconsin before he returned to Seattle to run the Laryngology program at the University of Washington in 2007. He lives with his wife, Jenny, and his 11-year-old son, Solomon, and his seven-year-old daughter, Rose, in Seattle.
How did your UPrep education prepare you for living during a pandemic?
During our teen years, we all learn that people have widely disparate resources available to them. The ethos of University Prep is to be connected to community and to look out for each other. I took to heart the idea that the world I would be entering is impacted by my thoughts, words, and actions. We are all best served if we act as citizens and consider our community. That idea of social responsibility has always been part of the UPrep ethos, and for me it has always been about doing good work together as a community. I’m no more or less important than anybody else on my street, but we all can be a positive force and recognize the impact of our behaviors.
What is your definition of social responsibility?
I think of that adage: hoping to plant the seeds for a tree from which I will never eat that fruit. What I do today serves people in the future that has no direct, immediate benefit for me. A lot of people doing a lot of thoughtful, community work leads to a better life for people tomorrow.
What can people do on a daily basis to help others during the pandemic?
Look for ways to help people who have retreated and are suffering in silence. I want to remember that I don’t know what is going on in people’s worlds. Let’s add an extra five points of understanding, forgiveness, and latitude to our interactions with others.
Ann Strandoo '87
After working with refugees in the U.S., U.K., Middle East, Asia, and Africa for more than 25 years, Ann Strandoo launched Refugees in Schools Everywhere (RISE). This nonprofit organization funds high school, college, and vocational training scholarships in the refugees’ countries of asylum.
How did UPrep teach you the value of service to others?
At UPrep, the global world started opening up to me. My history and literature classes really forged that connection between thinking globally and acting locally, and service days, like working with homeless people in the U District, really showed me I could make a difference in people’s lives. There was also a UPrep student who had been resettled as a refugee in Seattle. That sparked me to learn more and was the first time I became aware of the refugee experience.
Tell us about your work with refugees all over the world.
After college, I started teaching ESL, and then became a case worker who helped refugees with tasks like getting jobs and furnishing apartments. After getting my master’s in social work, I continued working in the resettlement field. This led to a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, where I realized I wanted to work abroad. My first job was in Tanzania for the United Nations Migration Agency, helping prepare refugees for resettlement to the U.S. Since then, I’ve worked in many countries, including Nepal, Jordan, Djibouti, and Kenya.
Why did you start RISE?
Through my work for the UN, I realized I wanted to make a more direct change in people’s lives. From talking with refugees, I learned that the thing they want most is education. They believe education will change their lives. Right now, less than half of all refugee kids go to primary school; less than 25 percent attend high school; and less than three percent go to college. My desire is to provide a pathway for people through education so they can return to their country of origin (if possible) or rebuild in their country of asylum. We cannot rebuild a civil society without an educated population. By giving refugees access to education, RISE is investing in people who can work to create solutions for the problems in the camps and in their countries.