"UC Davis Opened the World To Me" - Jeanette Ruiz

Jeanette B. Ruiz
Jeanette Ruiz specializes in strategic communication with a specific interest in emerging practices and concepts in digital and social media. In addition to her appointment in the Department of Communication, she has served as a human resources and public relations consultant for various nonprofit, managed health care and finance organizations. She earned her PhD in Communication at UC Davis in 2015. Photo: Elena Zhukova for UC Office of the President


I GREW UP in a small farming community near UC Davis. As the first-born of two immigrant farm workers from Mexico, navigating the K-12 school system was challenging, at best. There were a few teachers who were supportive but had it not been for the EOP (Educational Opportunity Program] from UC Davis, I may not have made it to college (B.A., Rhetoric and Communication, UC Davis ’97; Ph.D., Communication, UC Davis ’15).

What motivated me to go to college

Both of my parents yearned for an education — they didn’t have the option as kids. They were forced to work at a young age to help support their families. However, I watched them both work full days in the fields and then come home to take night courses in English. Eventually, my father earned his GED and my mother completed her high school diploma. Growing up, it was ingrained in me that education was the only way to move forward. I wanted more for myself and I wanted my parents’ sacrifices to have been worth it.

What I would tell my freshman self

That it’s OK to not know and important to ask. That getting through requires just as much strategy as smarts. That it’s OK to make friends and have fun!

How my background helped me

I came in with a drive and determination that other students lacked. I also knew that it was up to me, no one owed me anything.

The best thing about my college experience

I wish I could tell you that I made a lot of friends and was a part of many organizations and clubs. Unfortunately, I was so focused on the end game that I really missed out on the journey. BUT college taught me that learning should be a life’s pursuit. More importantly, college opened the world to me. I had grown up in a bubble where you had to be the same to survive. College gave me the freedom to find and be myself.

Story courtesy of University of California Office of the President,