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For Alice Szeto Gallup, Music has Always Been Her Main Theme

Alice Szeto Gallup

The child of parents that immigrated from Hong Kong, Alice Szeto Gallup said figuring out her career path has come with unique challenges.

The new Arts Director of Academic Planning and Resources had to learn to create her career path without a blueprint or a built-in network of support.

“There’s no rule book or YouTube tutorial on how you grow your character and leadership to make tough decisions and to navigate uncomfortable and challenging situations,” she said. “So for me, I was lucky to find several amazing mentors that have been ultimately life-changing for me.”

While Gallup is new in her job, she is not new to UC Santa Cruz. She graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music (she studied classical piano, folk music of Central and South America and minored in Electronic Music) and eventually went on to work full-time in undergraduate advising in the Music Department. She spent 10 years in that position before becoming department manager for the last five-and-a-half years. 

“The Music Department is the place where I spent my entire adulthood,” she said. “It has been such a pleasure to be in a place where I could develop my skills, be supported by faculty and staff, have rich and rewarding experiences working with students over the years, and meet amazing mentors along the way.”

Gallup grew up about 65 miles north of Santa Cruz in Pacifica, which “everybody knows” is the town with the Taco Bell on the beach. She loved living in the small town where everyone looked out for one another and strangers greeted each other on the street. At the age of 4, she began private lessons in classical piano with a teacher from the Moscow Conservatory, and continued to age 18. 

Gallup enjoyed a close-knit family, which had frequent gatherings of 20 people around tables laded with delicious food home-cooked by her parents. 

“My parents’ hard work was how they demonstrated their love- through generosity and warmth in their acts of service (which is why they love cooking and feeding everyone),” she said. “I think those things have ultimately instilled and inspired the way that I like to relate and show care to people.” 

Her parents’ example inspired her “service-based” leadership style. To Gallup, that means that “you serve because you are a leader, but you are the leader because you serve.”  She added: “In other words, we earn the trust of faculty and staff by the quality of work that we provide to support the department mission, programs and students.” 

Gallup inherited her parents’ love of cooking and was a fierce competitor in her office’s version of the “Great British Bake-Off” in 2019-20. “Everyone in the office became a really amazing baker because we would test recipes multiple times at home, then when it came time to submit and judge our own bakes, we all shared honest critique on our own bakes” she said. “We all took it seriously and wanted to build skills.”

Outside of work, Gallup is equally driven. She is proud that she was able to complete a half Ironman race, covering 70.3 miles in swimming, biking and running in one day. She said it was one of the biggest accomplishments of her life. 

She loves her two dogs that are German Shepherd/Border Collie mix and is passionate about dog training. “It’s very rewarding to be able to teach dogs that are 80-plus pounds how to become a well-behaved member of our family,” she said. 

Gallup enjoyed working at the Music Department and wasn’t planning on moving positions, but when she read the job description for the new position at the Arts Division, she realized she would enjoy it very much and could not pass it up.

“I became interested in this position because it expands on a part of my previous positions that I am most passionate about, which is budgeting and planning and creating new systems,” she said. “I am most excited about being able to apply my skills to hopefully support departments, and further Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and student success by representing the division to help advocate for resources via strategic planning and budgeting.”