Chef Ryan Jaramillo
Chef Ryan Jaramillo helps prepare the Thanksgiving dinner provided for UCI students unable to be home for the holiday. Tonya Becerra, University Communications

It wouldn’t be a true Thanksgiving at UC Irvine if anyone was left out, so in consideration of the international students and others unable to visit their families this year, Chancellor Michael Drake and Thomas Parham, interim vice chancellor for student affairs, served up a turkey feast at the community room in the Palo Verde graduate apartment complex.

“The chancellor and I were talking about the number of UCI students who are homeless, connected to foster care, are international students or are otherwise not accommodated,” Parham said, “and he asked that we make sure we had a way to come together with those students to celebrate.”

Student Affairs staff distributed fliers about the dinner to the student body and worked through clubs and organizations to identify those on their own. Gerald Parham, director of Palo Verde Housing, offered up the unit’s lounge for the event. And Jack McManus, director of UCI Hospitality & Dining Services, mobilized a crew to cook for the crowd of approximately 125.

“I’m very happy with the way the vice chancellor and his colleagues were able to organize this celebration,” Chancellor Drake said. “It was great to spend a little quality time with some of our students to enjoy fellowship and think about all we have to be thankful for.”

Students enjoying the Thanksgiving feast said the effort gave a whole new meaning to the term “’Eater Nation.”

The holiday menu included macaroni and cheese, yams, mashed potatoes, turkey, ham and pies for dessert.

“There’s a real family feel here today,” said Joe Tatar, a graduate student in psychology & social behavior. “Everyone is introducing themselves and enjoying the food.”

A native of Wisconsin, Tater said he remained on campus to avoid the expense and hassle of traveling during the Thanksgiving break.

Sitting nearby was Francis Acosta, the on-duty R.A. in Middle Earth’s Valimar Hall.

“It’s nice to get out and enjoy a good meal,” said Acosta, in between bites of macaroni, yams and turkey. “I don’t regret sticking around.”