Several years ago, finding herself on her own as a single mother, UC Santa Cruz Arts Division development assistant, Susan Moren, decided to take what for many would be an overwhelming situation and forge ahead to earn a degree in computer engineering. Her youngest daughter at the time was just a baby and her eldest was only four years old, but Susan put herself to work, studying for an associate degree in business accounting at Cabrillo College, and then transferring to UCSC as a junior to learn computer engineering.
“It was a proud day when I walked across the Quarry stage with my two little daughters to receive my BA in computer and information sciences three years later, with my mom in the audience cheering me on, as always,” says Susan.
Being raised in Queens, New York, Susan was surrounded by a large family. “My dad died when I was four, so I grew up with just my mom and my brother, who is 11 years older than me,” says Susan. “We did have a big extended family of aunts and uncles, though. It was regular large family gatherings that instilled in me an appreciation of a good party and good community.”
After graduating, Susan started what would be a 22-year career as a software engineer, working in Unix and project management for a local company, The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO), which was known for selling three Unix operating systems for Intel x86 processors: Xenix, SCO UNIX, and UnixWare.
Now, getting ready to retire, Susan remembers when she started her first job at UCSC in 2006 working as a project manager for the New Teacher Center when it was then part of UCSC’s education department. After that, she was a student affairs coordinator at Cowell College before moving on in 2019 to become the development assistant in social sciences, and from there she joined the Arts Division last summer in a similar position.
“I love the mission of the university and its core principles of community,” says Susan. “I love hearing about and supporting the innovative fields of research, study and active projects that are happening all around. I especially appreciate the projects that collaborate with the community so what we learn here directly benefits those outside the institution as well.”
A favorite pastime of Susan’s is community singing which she refers to as her passion. “I both attend and lead song circles regularly, sharing the gift of lifting our voices together to celebrate, resist, grieve and connect to a deeper part of ourselves and the world around us.”
She’s looking forward to the next chapter of her life after her UCSC career ends, which will include having more time to spend with her family and grandchildren.
When she was younger, Susan became involved with Eastern religion and training, and is planning to spend part of her retirement delving into Work That Reconnects by Joanna Macy, who is an environmental activist, author, and scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology.
“The basic principle is that by allowing ourselves to feel our true pain for the state of the world we can connect to our love of it and thus be inspired to work to protect, value and truly appreciate it,” explains Susan. “I hope to be able to contribute to growing sustainability in our world, the Great Turning, and perhaps be of some small service to those who are suffering. Certainly singing, and leading people in song will be a part of it.”
Even though she’s very excited about new adventures ahead, Susan will always have fond memories of her time at UCSC.
“I feel like I grew up here having lived for three years at Family Student Housing with my kids. I love the beauty of the campus itself. I will miss working together with great colleagues on projects that move the world forward toward a greater good. It feels good to belong here at UCSC, and I hope I can continue to feel that sense of belonging as an alumna and retiree.”