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Former UC Santa Cruz Chancellor MRC Greenwood speaks with Martina O'sullivan of Dominican Hospital before the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday at Seascape Golf Course

APTOS -- The question came from Heather Stiles, a financial adviser with Raymond James in Capitola: Why should women in business care about a research university?

The answer from University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood: "When scientists are successful, they create hundreds of jobs and opportunities."

Greenwood was the featured speaker at the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce Women in Business quarterly luncheon, attracting an audience of 110, mostly women, at Seascape Golf Club on Thursday.

She's visiting to see her grandson graduate from UC Santa Cruz, the research university where she was chancellor for eight years during boom times.

She pointed out Norm Abramson, from the University of Hawaii, led a research project that laid the groundwork for the Internet, and David Haussler, at UCSC, was the first to sequence the human genome.

"UCSC has one of the best top two or three astronomy departments in the country," she said.

The idea for a new telescope to be sited in Hawaii in the next year was born at, you guessed it, UCSC, when professor Jerry Nelson got money from the Gordon Moore Foundation to design it.

Greenwood said she sees higher education as the core of the community's economic success, a source of talent and new ideas, a way to develop the next generation and ensure a tax base for the future.

"My mother's family was an Irish potato family," she said, distressed by state funding cutbacks for the University of California. "I wonder if my grandchildren will have these opportunities."

In today's economy, she sees a need to be ready for military veterans returning from war and seeking education and to teach young people entrepreneurship early on.

"We need to teach them not just to get a job, but how to make a job," she said.

"She did a wonderful job of opening our minds," said Stiles afterward. "We're lucky to have UCSC here."

The Women in Business group demonstrated its faith in education by awarding three college scholarships, two for $750 funded by luncheon raffles and a third for $2,000 supported by the Cruzin' Courses progressive dinner in October founded by banker Cathy Schlumbrecht.

Harbor High grad Jennifer Yeung was awarded $2,000. She will go to San Jose State, the first in her family to attend college. She served as junior class president and spent many hours organizing events, participating in softball, tennis, wrestling and cheerleading, and working at the Boardwalk to help support her family. Fluent in three languages, she plans to major in international business and minor in Chinese.

Candice Peters, who will attend UC Davis, earned a 4.24 GPA at Harbor High while participating in mock trial, tennis and a musical, and volunteering at the library. She wrote her application in the form of a short story, explaining her desire to become a medical technician.

Katya Birken, 35, a Cabrillo College graduate, is entering her senior year at UCSC. Her goal is to work with abused children and give them a chance for a better future. Though classes she wanted to take are being cut, she hopes to do research in psychology and become fluent in Spanish.

Kate Collins, a former Women in Business scholarship recipient, returned to say thank you. A 2010 graduate of UC Berkeley, she is in law school with ambitions to specialize in intellectual property, working to bridge the gap between scientists and the business world.