2020 Class Notes
Class Notes chronicles important events in the lives of UCLA alumni – from changes in employment to accolades for achievement, from new Bruin unions to the passing of our valued UCLA family members. We’ve assembled some of the highlights from this past year.
These Bruins are a small subset of the many whose accomplishments and memories we honored in 2020. If you would like your story or that of another Bruin celebrated in a Class Note, please visit our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate your name and include the subject’s name and class year(s). And, if possible, email us a photo that we can use for the story.
Rafer Johnson '59
Rafer Johnson '59, who played basketball for John Wooden, was elected student body president, won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics, and went on to philanthropic and public service pursuits that would earn him the UCLA Medal, passed away Dec. 2 at his home in Sherman Oaks. He was 86.
Robert Faturechi '08
Former Daily Bruin editor Robert Faturechi '08 has won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Faturechi won the award with two fellow ProPublica reporters for their coverage of two accidents that occurred in the Navy’s 7th fleet in 2017. Faturechi wrote for the Bruin from 2004 to 2008.
Caitlin Brody, M.M. '14
Cpl. Caitlin Brody, M.M. '14, a French horn player in the 1st Armored Division Band, was named the 2020 Army Band Active Component Soldier of the Year. In the three years since she enlisted, Brody, has completed a deployment to Iraq, approximately 300 missions with the 1AD brass quintet ensemble, a full-time role with the 1AD concert band, and two tours with the U.S. Army Field Band.
Juan Gómez Quiñones '62, M.A. '64, Ph.D. '72
Historian, professor of history, poet, and activist Juan Gómez Quiñones '62, M.A. '64, Ph.D. '72, beloved for his mentorship of generations of Chicano students as a UCLA faculty member for nearly 50 years, died of congestive heart failure Nov. 11 at his home in Pacific Palisades. He was 80.
June Bacon-Bercey '54
June Bacon-Bercey '54, the first African American to receive a degree in meteorology and America’s first female TV meteorologist, passed away in Burlingame, Calif., on July 3, 2019, the family announced recently. She was 90. Her final wish was to relaunch the 1978-1990 June Bacon-Bercey Scholarship for Women pursuing STEM studies, which took several months to arrange, in lieu of a large service or flowers.
Xijie Wang, Ph.D. '92
Xijie Wang, Ph.D. '92, an accelerator physicist at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, will receive the 2021 Nuclear and Plasma Science Society’s Particle Accelerator Science and Technology Award, recognizing outstanding contributions to the development of particle accelerator science and technology.
Lauren Grabowski '16, M.P.H. '20, M.S.W. '20
Lauren Grabowski '16, M.P.H. '20, M.S.W. '20, and Christopher Shea were married in July. The bride, a clinical social worker at City of Hope, is a Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor who was treated at UCLA while an undergraduate. Her brother Andrew '18 earned his degree in aerospace; her brother Adam is a third-year UCLA student majoring in economics and sociology.
Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D. '01
Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D. '01, a first-generation college student who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, began his post as UC Merced’s fourth chancellor on July 6, having most recently served as president of the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD). Before earning his Ph.D. in Education, Dr. Muñoz received a B.A. from UC Santa Barbara and an M.A. from Cal State Los Angeles.
Donald Prell '48
Donald Prell '48, World War II POW, visionary, humanitarian, philanthropist and lifelong supporter of UCLA remembered for his progressive and open-minded attitude, passed away in July at age 96. Prell was captured and imprisoned by German soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge, spending five months as a prisoner of war before escaping.
Natasha Graves, M.P.H. '14
Natasha Graves, M.P.H. '14, continues to turn obstacles into opportunities, having just launched a travel website that caters to those with disabilities of all kinds. VacayAbility.com is a user- generated review website, where people with disabilities or unique abilities can rate and review places based upon accessibility.