Beyond Brilliant
November 1, 2019

Beyond Brilliant: Campaign highlights inspiring people of UC Riverside

Campaign to include interactive experience at Riverside Festival of Lights

Author: Johnny Cruz
November 1, 2019

Dramatic growth in rankings – including increasing 80 spots in two years (Forbes) and 41 places in one year (Center for World University Rankings) – two Nobel Prize winners joining the faculty, and recognition as the nation’s leader for social mobility (U.S. News & World Report) have positioned UC Riverside as America’s fastest rising university.

A new campaign, titled Beyond Brilliant, goes beyond the rankings and profiles UCR students and alumni whose inspiring personal stories demonstrate how the university contributes to the well-being of California and the world.

The UCR students, alumni, and staff featured in Beyond Brilliant include:

  • Rámon Lejia: A recent UCR graduate, who at age 17 was in a juvenile detention center and is now planning a career in law.
  • Elñora Webb: A UCR alumna who spent most of her childhood in the foster care system and ultimately became a college president.
  • Katherine Maldonado: A doctoral student at UCR conducting research that will help young women transitioning out of gangs – just as she did.
  • Cam Calkins: A longtime UCR staff member who was inspired to establish a student scholarship fund.

Additional Beyond Brilliant stories can be found on the promotion website.

In addition, visitors to the popular Riverside Festival of Lights will enjoy an interactive experience designed to connect them to the university, regardless of their affiliation.

Last year more than 750,000 visitors attended the Riverside Festival of Lights, which was ranked by USA Today as the best public holiday lights display in the United States.

UCR will have a significant presence at this year’s festival, which runs Nov. 29 to Dec. 31. During the first two weeks of the Riverside Festival of Lights, can visit and take photos at the UC Riverside Snow Globe Experience. The massive UCR-themed snow globe, which is free and open to the public, features a 20-foot-high replica of the university’s iconic bell tower along with stories from the Beyond Brilliant campaign.

In the final two weeks of the festival, guests can enjoy a UCR-themed photo station at the "Communitrees" exhibit near City Hall. It features an opportunity to write personal greetings on orange ornaments, and a venue designed for holiday photos. 

UCR alumni, donors, parents, and friends are invited to a special evening reception Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the university’s Culver Center of the Arts in Downtown Riverside. Guests at the event, which takes place on Giving Tuesday, can take a virtual 360-degree tour of the UCR campus, engage in a variety of interactive experiences, and network with guests prior to visiting the Riverside Festival of Lights and the UCR Snow Globe Experience. Free parking is available for the first 100 registered visitors. Registration is required to attend.

Throughout the Beyond Brilliant promotion, university supporters also will learn about a range of holiday giving opportunities to support the UCR student experience, including on Giving Tuesday. Last year, more individuals made donations to UCR on Giving Tuesday than on any day in the history of the university.