Blog

Finding My Place at UC Davis: Daniel Ryn Van Patten

May 24, 2018
Daniel Ryn Van Patten '18 History


I was born in in a small town called Murrieta, California, but soon afterwards moved to an island village off the coast of Belize known as San Pedro Town. A fishing village popular with tourists for its laid back environment and beautiful weather, I grew accustomed to that lifestyle before I moved back to the states around the beginning of my middle school years. 

"I wanted to break that pattern and pursue my dreams" - Yilda Korpela

May 11, 2018
Yilda Korpela '19 Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; minor in Public Health

I was born and lived in Oaxaca, Mexico until I was eight years old. My father came to the US in search of a better source of income so he could provide for our family of eight. After years of living in Mexico without my father, my mother decided to follow him and take us all to the United States. My family and I eventually joined my dad and we moved to Santa Maria, California. My father was a field worker and when we arrived to the US my mother and three older siblings joined him.

Doctor Dreams to Research Reality - Susanna Zheng

April 23, 2018
Susanna Zheng '19 Psychology 

I was born and raised in San Francisco. Both of my parents are immigrants and have an 8th grade education. After the 8th grade, they had to get out and work to support their families. They don’t speak any English, so I learned to translate for them at a very young age, from phone bills to conversations with our neighbors. Learning two languages has allowed me to become the bridge that connects two worlds together.

"I am the only person who can change my world" - Marina Farr

May 03, 2018
Marina Farr NPB and Psychology

I am double majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior as well as Psychology. I am also an undergraduate research assistant in the Bales lab at the California National Primate Research Center and am starting a clinical internship at Sutter Sacramento.

Defying the Odds to Make It Happen - Izaac Ornelas

April 23, 2018
Izaac Ornelas Managerial Economics '19

I grew up in San Juan Bautista, CA with four brothers including my twin, two parents, and several other family members and friends. Both sides of my family emigrated from Mexico before my parents were born, and most of my family does some kind of work with landscape or construction. My parents were very young when they started our family, which meant they weren’t able to go to college. They were always working hard, so my brothers and I spent a lot of time growing up with our grandparents.

Working to Relieve Poverty, From a High School Internship to a Sociology Degree - Samantha Dunn

April 17, 2018
Samantha Dunn '20 Sociology 

Not many have the pleasure of being able to say they were raised in a barn! Yet, here I am. From around the age of 5 to 16, I lived in a refurbished barn on a small plot of farmland in southern California, packed in with my five siblings. We grew corn, peas, and other crops, which we harvested together as a family. My siblings and I would bond and play by sprinting through the tall fields of corn, loving the feel of the earth pounding against our bare feet and the burn of our lungs as we ran and laughed all the while.

"A lot of pressure, but a lot of hope, too" - Ahash Francis

April 13, 2018
Ahash Francis '18 English

My parents were refugees from the Sri Lankan Civil War. There was a genocide in our home country for much of the 80s and 90s, and Canada took thousands of victims, ethnic Tamils, in to protect them. My parents were both among these Tamil refugees, and they met and married in Toronto in the 90s. My sister and I were born in Scarborough, Ontario, and we moved to Gilroy, California when I was two, where my parents had my little brother.

Adversity to Advantage: What Led me to UC Davis - Jenny Aguiar

March 27, 2018
Jenny Aguiar '19 Psychology 

My parents immigrated to the United States as young adults with the intention of one day giving their children a better life than back home. My two brothers and I were raised in Vallejo, California- a location once known for being the first decent-sized city in California to file for bankruptcy. My parents were stressed by the demands of living in California -- they both worked two jobs for the majority of my childhood -- and became alcoholics. My home life was unstable, and to this day things have not gotten much better there.

My Path to UC Davis - Maribel Anguiano

March 27, 2018
Maribel Anguiano '19 Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior

I come from a big, beautiful Mexican family full of resilience and determination. My mother and her family immigrated to the United States when she was seven years old,  while my father crossed the border by himself when he was just thirteen. My parents experienced a completely different childhood than my siblings and I ever will. Because education was not valued in their households and there was no support from their schools, my parents did not continue their education past high school.

Immigrant Families, American Dreams - Julie Sze

March 13, 2018
 

JULIE SZE grew up in New York City’s Chinatown, where her father worked in the restaurant industry after emigrating from China. She attended a “striving immigrant school” oriented toward success in math and science, and was expected to go to college in preparation for a professional career. “This is very typical for a working class Asian immigrant family– it’s tied to the narrative of the American dream.”

Milmon Harrison

March 13, 2018

FROM THE principal’s office to a successful dance career to a seven-year college journey, Milmon Harrison’s path to being a professor was full of the unexpected. A New Orleans native, he grew up in Hunter’s Point and the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco before moving to Stockton and attending middle and high school in Lodi. That I would end up being a professor is so weird to me because even though I was a smart kid, I didn’t always do well in school. I was easily bored and would always talk to my friends.

Susan Rivera

March 13, 2018
Growing up in the industrial city of Gary, Indiana, Susan Rivera never dreamed that she would one day head a neuroscience lab researching cognitive development. “College was always part of my plan,” she says, “but as a means to an end. All you think about when you’re growing up poor is having a solid job.” Rivera’s parents had migrated to Gary from Puerto Rico so her father could work in the steel mills. The youngest of thirteen children, her family was loving and happy, but there was no money to spare, and no guidance for getting into college. “I had to do that on my own, and I was a little clueless,” she says. Fortunately, she ended up attending Indiana University – Bloomington, a top public research university.

John Terning

March 12, 2018

PHYSICS Professor John Terning grew up in Canada, the son of parents who emigrated from a small town in Norway where an eighth-grade education was the norm. His parents expected him to make the most of the free higher education offered by their adopted home country.

From Poverty to Poetry: Education as a Pathway to a Better Life - Joseph Sorensen

November 08, 2017
 

I GREW UP in San Francisco in impoverished circumstances.  Both of my parents were food-service employees, but by the time my two younger siblings were school-age, my father was an addict living on the streets and my now-single mother was on welfare struggling to raise three children.  School was a haven for me, but also a place where I could clearly see the differences between my own circumstances and those of my peers.  I was lucky to have close friends and caring teachers who believed that education was a key to success.  For me, that meant a pathway towards a better

John Harada

November 08, 2017
GROWING UP IN EAST LA, John Harada attended Garfield High School -- made famous in the film Stand and Deliver  In that film, math teacher Jaime Escalante’s dedicated and unorthodox teaching approach results in his entire class passing the AP Calculus test only to be accused by the Educational Testing Service of cheating.