Alumni award recipients share stories of learning, love, and grace
A total of 233 people, including alumni, their family members, La Sierra faculty and staff enjoyed the warm, breezy Southern California evening inside a white, festive tent lined with 142 flags of nations around the world. The La Sierra University Church loaned the colorful flags for alumni weekend. The banquet served as a key kickoff event for La Sierra’s Homecoming 2011, created around the theme, “Into All the World.” Each banquet table held unique figurine centerpieces collected from regions of the globe by La Sierra’s Stahl Center for World Service. Attendees talked, worshiped, ate Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisine and enjoyed piano, choral and instrumental music provided by the music department’s faculty and students. Alumni celebrated memories made and lives changed during their time at their alma mater.
In addition to Anderson’s award, the university’s three schools and its college recognized four “Honored Alumni” who have made long and lasting impacts since their respective graduations, and four “Rising Star” graduates who are ascending their career ladders. The university also honored BALL (Black Alumni of Loma Linda and La Sierra Universities) La Sierra Alumnus of the Year Gwendolyn Anderson Meredith for her lengthy contribution and dedication to education.
The honorees talked about the ways in which La Sierra influenced their values and life trajectory. Biographical summaries for the alumni of the year and the Honored Alumni and Rising Stars are copied below the article.
Grace Oh, a 2000 Bachelor of Music graduate, received the Rising Star award from the College of Arts and Sciences. Oh is a first violinist with the Pacific Symphony in Santa Ana, Calif., a regular performer with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and a substitute violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She has also performed on a variety of film scores and video game soundtracks. She cited her former La Sierra violin professor and Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist Lyndon Taylor as a model of what she aimed to become. “I really do thank Dr. Taylor, who I now get to perform with when he’s with the Los Angeles Philharmonic,” Grace said.
“Rising Star” Profiles
College of Arts and Sciences Rising Star Grace Oh graduated from La Sierra University, summa cum laude, with a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance 2000. She continued on to graduate school and completed her Master of Music degree at the University of Michigan in 2002.
Though an accomplished solo violinist, Grace’s career goal is to be an orchestral violinist. Since returning to Southern California, she has been in great demand as a performer with many of the area’s major orchestras.
In addition to her performances in symphony concerts, Grace has also played in the opera orchestras of both the Los Angeles Opera and Opera Pacific as well as in orchestras for visiting ballet companies, including the Bolshoi.
With Los Angeles being a center for the entertainment industry, Grace has also been a part of recordings for a number of film, television and recording artists including Spiderman 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, 2012, Harry Connick Jr., Sheryl Crow, Yellowcard, and several others.
A very high level of skill and musicianship is required of anyone who performs with a major symphony orchestra or who is involved in any kind of professional recording situation. Only professionals of the highest caliber are repeatedly called to perform with these prestigious organizations and artists. Grace is certainly an example of this kind of musical excellence.
Honored Alumni Profiles
College of Arts and Sciences Honored Alumnus Juli Ling Miller received a BA in English and an MA from Loma Linda/La Sierra University in 1971 and 1975. She went on to post-graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley and certification in fundraising.
“The eclectic and exceptional professors taught me very different approaches to evaluating information, solving problems, or analyzing situations,” Juli says. “The passion for their subjects and devotion to knowing the truth—no matter how that might affect conventional wisdom or sacred cows—was a daily act of courage.”
Juli is a public relations consultant with diverse clients, such as Napa Valley Hospice and Adult Day Services, Shenandoah International Advisors (high end real estate), Trillium Resorts (developer in the San Juan Islands, South Carolina, and western Canada), Sandra Dunn & Associates (PR firm) and Marshall Hospital.
During her day job, Juli is an English graduate who utilizes her writing skills in the business world, employing words and text to help organizations communicate with their constituents, position themselves favorably in their markets, conduct capital campaigns and navigate the myriad regulations that govern their operations. But Juli’s day doesn’t end at 5 o’clock. Juli serves on the editorial board of Spectrum magazine, she is chair of the El Dorado County Airport Commission (she is a private pilot), is on the leadership board of the Montana American Diabetes Association, and is a member of the Soroptimists International and Chambers of Commerce.
Perhaps more relevant to La Sierra’s English and Communication department, in 2004 Juli sponsored a guest speaker, Freida Lee Mock, the Oscar documentary award winner for her work on Maya Lin, the architect of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. In 2006, Juli sponsored Jessica Sanders, documentary filmmaker for the “After Innocence” project. This documentary examined what happens to those wrongfully convicted of crimes. Both of these events were well attended and thought provoking.