Bubble Up! gala raised funds to support City Heights programs

Student ambassadors, Rudy Vargas, Carolina Barraza and Tram Nguyen, led activities at the annual Bubble Up! gala to engage guests and help with the fundraiser.

With City Heights students at the helm, Ocean Discovery Institute celebrated its accomplishments and plans for growth at its annual Bubble Up! gala on Sept. 17. The black-tie affair at La Costa Resort and Spa raised critical funding to support programs in City Heights.

Guests participated in student-led activities, competing to win prizes while raising funds to empower City Heights youth. Hoover High School alumni, including Rudy Vargas and Anai Novoa, led the activities to engage guests in the Institute’s mission and programs. Activities included Remotely Operated Vehicle races, “plankton” races, and an “Are you Smarter than an Ocean Leader?” game show.

More than 250 leaders from San Diego’s business, philanthropic, and scientific communities attended. Student ambassadors sat at each table with supporters, simultaneously gaining networking skills and connecting with potential internship opportunities. Erick Ruiz was one of these student ambassadors, sitting with supporters from Bumble Bee Foods. Through this event, Erick was able to share his dream of combining his interest in fisheries science with his passion for the culinary arts, and discuss ways that he can pursue that dream.

“With each new year, it is a thrill to see all the growth and dimension in the students. To cross paths with so many wonderful, compassionate and generous people brings a whole new meaning to community,” said City Heights resident Dennis Wood who attended the gala.

Perhaps the most exciting part of Bubble Up! was that Carolina Barraza, Cal state University Chico and Hoover High alum, was recently hired as Ocean Discovery Institute’s events and communications coordinator, implementing the event for the first time this year. “I was thrilled to be a part of this event to share our organization’s vision and long-term commitment to improving our region,” Carolina said.

The funds raised at Bubble Up! will support activities and programs that pave the way for more than 5,000 youth from City Heights to gain knowledge and understanding of the sciences and nature, preparing these young people to become our future scientific and environmental leaders.

The gala fundraiser was made possible by the title sponsor Gen-Probe. Other supporters include Boeing; Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves and Savitch; Cox Communications; Hughes Marino; Wells Fargo; Bank of America; Life Technologies; Qualcomm; SDG&E; ProFlowers; and Fresh & Easy.

Elizabeth Horpedahl is the director of development and communications for the Ocean Discovery Institute.