Dear Montecito: Joan Curran
By Stella Haffner   |   February 20, 2024

“I hadn’t imagined myself working in the nonprofit sector when I started college,” says Joan Curran. Joan was a freshman at the University of San Francisco when she began her federal work study and – as she would later realize – began her career. Joan joined the team at a San Francisco–based nonprofit called Career […]

Dear Montecito: Kristine Carrillo 
By Stella Haffner   |   February 6, 2024

Who doesn’t love a full circle moment? Today we have yet another wonderful featuree who is an alumna of the Mission Scholars program. Inspired by her time in the program and her upbringing here in Santa Barbara, Kristine Carrillo is a current senior at Brown University where she studies International and Public Affairs and Education […]

Dear Montecito: Annika Wagner
By Stella Haffner   |   January 23, 2024

New schedule, new workload, new classes and more. Moving from the end of high school to the beginning of freshman year is one of the biggest transitions a student will experience, even when they are as college-ready as Annika Wagner. Last year Annika graduated from Dos Pueblos High School with a 4.85 GPA, 34 college […]

Isabela Contreras
By Stella Haffner   |   January 9, 2024

Today’s topic: future physicians and an enviable education. Santa Barbara’s tourists dream about moving here for the great food, beaches, and shops. But as locals we know that one of the best things about living in Santa Barbara is the education available to our children. From world-class extracurriculars at our elementary schools to a country-topping […]

Osiel Ocampo The Path to Being Half Full
By Stella Haffner   |   December 19, 2023

December is a festive season. A month of family. A month of moderate weight gain. But for many featurees of the Dear Montecito column, December is first and foremost the end of the semester.  To reflect on the end of term, we are reading a piece by Osiel Ocampo. Osiel was born and raised in […]

Anusha Garg: UCSB Researcher Discusses How We Access the Conscious Mind
By Stella Haffner   |   December 5, 2023

You know what keeps me awake at night? My stream of consciousness! Ba dum tss! If you’re not laughing, just know that a joke like that would kill at a cognitive psychology conference. But don’t worry, you’re not missing out because this week I am bringing the psychology conference to us with a little help […]

Dawson Fuss: Part 2: What am I going to do with my life? And what am I going to do for dinner?
By Stella Haffner   |   November 21, 2023

Growing up, moving out, heartache, and more. To quote singer-songwriter Dawson Fuss in his 2023 release: “When will these growing pains give my bones a break?” We last spoke to Dawson in April of 2021 about his musical beginnings. Two years later, the Teen Star and Cate School alum is now a sophomore at the […]

What They Didn’t Tell Me Before Studying Abroad
By Stella Haffner   |   November 7, 2023

About a year ago I published a top 10 list: The Do’s and Don’ts of College According to Santa Barbara Alumni. The advice I received above and beyond anything else? If you have the chance to study abroad, do it. As I close my fifth and final year in Scotland, the place I moved to […]

Commission on Culture, Arts, and Joy Justice
By Stella Haffner   |   October 17, 2023

There’s a new club in town! The Commission on Culture, Arts, and Joy Justice (CCAJJ) is a new student government associated organization at UCSB founded by PhD student Charlene Macharia. This week I spoke to Macharia to find out what it means to do creative activism and how social justice activists can keep progress moving […]

Daian Martinez: Innocence in the Age of Information
By Stella Haffner   |   October 3, 2023

What does it mean to retain innocence in the age of information? This week, 22-year-old Daian Martinez answers this question for us. Daian is a talented young writer whose recent work as a Raab Writing Fellow at UCSB explored the big and little things that affect today’s youngest generation. After seeing her zine “In the […]

Kawaii Klaws
By Stella Haffner   |   September 12, 2023

In the Dear Montecito column, we have hosted writers, musicians, and filmmakers. This week, we are branching into a new medium with Lauryn Rousseau, a 2021 graduate of UCSB and the owner of Kawaii Klaws, a boutique nail art studio.  Q. How did you get interested in nail art? A. My cousin was really into […]

Welcome to the REEF! Inspiring Ocean Advocates for 20 years
By Stella Haffner   |   August 22, 2023

“You don’t have to be a scientist to love and protect the ocean,” says marine biologist Scott Simon. Simon is the director at UCSB’s teaching aquarium, the Research Experience and Education Facility (or REEF for short). Although used as a lab facility by the university, the REEF is primarily devoted to public outreach and serves […]

On Education: Annika Wagner
By Stella Haffner   |   August 15, 2023

Most high schools in California require around 60 hours of community service in order to graduate. What does it mean when a student does 40 times that amount? Eighteen-year-old Annika Wagner is a 2023 graduate of Dos Pueblos High School. During her junior high and high school years, she completed more than 2,000 hours of […]

The Ways We Celebrate 100
By Stella Haffner   |   August 8, 2023

Dear Montecito, Welcome to the 99th edition of Dear Montecito!  Even though this column was started three years ago, I have been looking forward to our 100th edition practically since Day 1. It is not unpopular to say 100 is a very nice number. It is round and also somehow circular in that it encourages […]

Students for Reproductive Justice at UCSB
By Stella Haffner   |   July 25, 2023

This week I spoke to Cassidy Miller, one of the publicity coordinators of UCSB’s Students for Reproductive Justice committee, to learn more about how students promote health care advocacy and reproductive rights on campus.  Q. What does Students for Reproductive Justice do? A. Students for Reproductive Justice is a subcommittee of the UCSB Associated Students’ […]

Regan Williams: Shepherdess in Training
By Stella Haffner   |   July 11, 2023

Deep in the Ojai Valley hills sits Shepherdess Land & Livestock Co., along with their youngest recruit, Crane School alumna Regan Williams. Regan had a long-standing interest in farming and working with animals, recently picking up classes in holistic land management. But it wasn’t until Regan met her new boss Cole Bush, founder of Shepherdess […]

Supporting Students’ Basic Needs at UCSB
By Stella Haffner   |   June 27, 2023

I have a real interest in how UCSB organizations support student life. When I scheduled a meeting with the Basic Needs Committee chair Tessa Veksler, I expected to hear about all my pet favorites – food bank initiatives, menstrual health events, etc. But as the academic term comes to a close, Tessa reflected more broadly […]

WORD Magazine
By Stella Haffner   |   May 30, 2023

This week I am joined by the co-editor of UCSB’s WORD Magazine, Makenna Gaeta. As a junior studying Communications and Journalism, Makenna reflects on her transition into a leadership role at WORD and what it means to be in creative control.  Q. What is WORD Magazine? A. WORD is a completely student-run arts and culture […]

Jakob Hammer: Culinary School Insider
By Stella Haffner   |   May 16, 2023

One of my favorite types of articles are the industry-insider sort of stuff. What do experts know that we don’t know? Unfortunately, I couldn’t get an expert this week, so I asked my friend Jakob Hammer to join me instead. (Only kidding!) Please enjoy our light-hearted conversation about the behind-the-scenes of culinary school.  Q. You […]

Society and Environment with Isa Johanson
By Stella Haffner   |   May 2, 2023

Twenty-year-old Isa Johanson is a current sophomore at UC Berkeley and an alumna of MUS, Santa Barbara Junior High, and Santa Barbara High School. From her first Earth Day and subsequent internship with Kathi King of Community Environmental Council to the 2018 mudslides, Isa describes the influence growing up in Montecito had on her current […]

Asking Good Questions
By Stella Haffner   |   April 18, 2023

Dear Montecito, What do journalists and academics have in common? They know how to ask good questions. As I begin to write my master’s thesis, I have been thinking a lot about the idea of the good question. After all, a thesis is itself essentially just a good question. And as I begin this process, […]

How Do Our Boats Disrupt Marine Life?
By Stella Haffner   |   April 4, 2023

The first time I spoke to Clare Ogle we were sitting across from each other in high school AP Biology. Four and a half years later, Clare is a graduate of University of Washington in Seattle, where she recently completed her major in marine biology with a minor in Arctic studies. She now puts that […]

Zero Time to Waste! Interview With UCSB Sustainability Club
By Stella Haffner   |   March 21, 2023

Founded in 2013, UCSB’s Zero Waste Committee was formed to address the university’s goal to reduce waste and redesign their consumption. As a national leader in sustainability initiatives and awareness, the university’s goals are in part maintained by the Zero Waste Committee, represented today by public outreach coordinator Caroline Bancroft. In our interview, Caroline talked […]

What Gets Buried
By Stella Haffner   |   March 7, 2023

Santa Barbara’s young art scene emphasizes identity, voice, and change. All three can be found in the work of 21-year-old Isa Saldivar. Working their way out of the foster care system, Isa came to Santa Barbara as a queer, Chican@ outsider – a perspective that continues to inform their art. In our conversation, Isa reflects […]

‘The Secret Garden’
By Stella Haffner   |   February 21, 2023

Ask me what our greatest Montecito exports are and I’ll say: Spanish-style tile, Pierre Lafond wine cake, and talent! Although born and raised in Los Angeles, today’s Dear Montecito feature has strong roots in Montecito that have inspired her to take up theater. Eleven-year-old Sadie Brickman Reynolds grew up hearing about her mother’s career in […]

Miramar After the Storm
By Stella Haffner   |   January 31, 2023

Dear Montecito, I took a walk on Miramar Beach on January 6, about 20 hours after the first of the storm system had left our local area. Now in general I find writing about the beach to be a tricky thing. Perhaps because it is well-worn territory or simply too easy to become sentimental. Perhaps […]

You Should Be Reading More Queer Stories
By Stella Haffner   |   January 10, 2023

It is always a pleasure to host artists in the Dear Montecito column. I feel that their stories and reflections help ground us, particularly when the current event landscape feels so urgent and so claustrophobic. As the opening to our 2023 column, I wanted to invite a young writer to use this space to reflect […]

New Montecito Neighborhood Trail Network Already Benefitting Casa Dorinda Residents
By Stella Haffner   |   December 27, 2022

‘Twas the trail blazing campaign, called Walk Montecito! Seeking funds from donors, to make the project complet-o, With leadership from Geoff and our good friend Abe, We are grateful to the team at Bucket Brigade! In April of 2022, the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade launched a campaign to address one of the ongoing health and […]

The ‘Makena Tate Project’
By Stella Haffner   |   December 27, 2022

Early career singer-songwriter Makena Tate attributes her confidence on stage to her Santa Barbara upbringing. The Crane School alumna says: “Being at Crane really gave me this great foundation for what I love now. It felt like there was no judgment, that everyone there wanted you to succeed. But having supportive teachers like Shana Arthurs […]

‘Whiskey Throttle’: A New Short Film by MUS Alum Matthew Rollins
By Stella Haffner   |   December 13, 2022

When a motocross racer crashes in the middle of nowhere, a mysterious man responds in haste. But who is he – A lonely doctor? A good Samaritan? A satanic mechanic? Watch Matthew Rollins’ new short film Whiskey Throttle to find out!  Q. How did this project get started? A. I took a year off from […]

Anusikha Halder Trans & Queer Commission at UCSB
By Stella Haffner   |   November 29, 2022

Increasingly, the idea of intersectionality is finding its way into our everyday conversations. This is a topic we explored in this column when talking to the Westmont Feminist Society, who hold up a mission to promote diversity and education. This week we’re talking to Anusikha Halder, the head of the Trans & Queer Commission at […]

Future Leaders of America: Jose Martin
By Stella Haffner   |   November 15, 2022

Established in 1982, Future Leaders of America was a joint initiative by Santa Barbara and Oxnard County to address pressures facing Latinx youth. By providing programming to encourage education and leadership, the founders created an environment where students learn what it means to effect change in their community. Today, we’re speaking to up-and-coming community leader […]

In Conversation with ASL Advocate Leah Martin
By Stella Haffner   |   November 1, 2022

As a kid, Leah Martin was a strong student and good friend. She enjoyed theater and all things media. But her landscape began to shift when she was diagnosed with Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss. Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss is a degenerative disorder that causes a person to progressively lose their hearing, starting with lower tones. By 15 […]

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
By Stella Haffner   |   October 18, 2022

Over in the sunny cove of Santa Barbara City College, a small health revolution is brewing. At the helm is Student Program Advisor Becky Bean, ASW.  With a background in the nonprofit sector and social work, Bean was excited to collaborate with the Student Health Services team at SBCC and spearhead their new wellness program: […]

The Do’s and Don’ts of College According to Santa Barbara Alumni
By Stella Haffner   |   October 4, 2022

Happy new school year! From interviewing people for this column, I have learned a lot about what it means to be a young person, and I have learned a lot of what it means to be a student. In honor of the new academic year, this edition of Dear Montecito is for the new college […]

Cal-SOAP: Providing Education about Financial Aid to Boost Local College-Going Rate
By Stella Haffner   |   September 20, 2022

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, questions concerning “education accessibility” become central to our discussion about school. But as the team at Cal-SOAP Santa Barbara knows, barriers to education did not simply appear with the pandemic lockdowns. At California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP), they ask: What is keeping students out of higher […]

The Psychology of eSports
By Stella Haffner   |   September 6, 2022

Part of the joy of producing this column is learning about spheres that are foreign to me. I have written before on how I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions; instead, I use the journal here to try new things, to give me the kick in the backside that I need, to go out and […]

Writing from the Wound: Resh Grewal
By Stella Haffner   |   August 23, 2022

For young writers, the advice is often “write what you know.” And so, the question becomes: What do I know? In many ways, this may be a question that young people seek to avoid. In painful periods of self-growth and in mundane life trials – your chemistry pop quizzes and the like – what you […]

Growing Up in Neverland
By Stella Haffner   |   August 2, 2022

When I started this column, I knew essentially what I wanted to do.  For new endeavors, what you want to do is largely defined by what you can do. And for me, that meant speaking to, about, and for Montecito’s young alumni.  Along the way, I learned that good newspapers strike a balance between the […]

Promoting Sustainability and Doing It in Style
By Stella Haffner   |   July 19, 2022

Among many notable features of the SoCal dogma is our cultural stake in sustainability.  We see this move to more eco-friendly choices manifest in everything from earthy aesthetics in new-age coffee houses to school-based programs. At MUS alone, I remember the birth of the Green Team, who provided every kid at school with a reusable […]