Gralen Devaux Eidam Wilson (4/6/67-10/23/16) grew up in Santa Cruz and maintained strong connections to the community through her family and friends here. She developed an interest in foreign languages and cultures at an early age, studying Spanish, German, and French in junior high and high school. Gralen graduated as valedictorian of Santa Cruz High School Class of 1985, spending two summers on exchanges to France and Spain through her high school. She went on to study Italian at UCLA and at the University of Padua in Italy.
Gralen enjoyed opportunities to travel with her family ever since childhood, and when her parents became involved in the local Sister Cities Committee in the early 1980s, Gralen became one of the first youth participants in exchanges to each of the Sister Cities at that time. (Japan, Spain, Italy, USSR, and Venezuela) She was one of the first two people ever authorized by the Soviet government to stay in the home of private citizens as part of a Sister Cities youth exchange to that country in 1988. Gralen was an intern at Sister Cities International in Washington DC for two years, later going on to work for the protocol department for the mayor’s office in the City of Los Angeles, the International Human Resources Department of 20th Century Fox, Credito Italiano, and for AnsaldoBreda, an Italian company that provided subway cars for the LA subway system.
Gralen was an active and devoted mother to her three children and a loving, supportive partner to her husband, Kevin. Her openness, energy, positivity, and sparkling presence earned her a wide circle of friends from all around the world. It is to honor Gralen’s zest for life and the role that her appreciation of foreign cultures played in it that the Gralen Eidam Wilson Youth Ambassador Scholarship is created.