Stories: Students

Ivory Tower -- Or Just a Big Mountain?

September 25, 2020
Trevor Waldien PhD Student, Geology           

I grew up in a rural logging town in coastal Oregon. I come from four generations of loggers and log truck drivers. In high school I was exposed to geology by a teacher on a field trip to the beach that left me with a set of questions: "Why are there sea shells in rocks on the top of the mountain? Why are those rocks tilted on their side?" 

Sometime during high school, I decided I was going to go to college to study geology.

I Got My Dream Job as an Urban Planner

September 18, 2020
Irving Huerta '20 - Sustainable Environmental Design and Political Science - Public Service

By Irving Huerta with Hailey Chatterton '20

I graduated in the middle of a pandemic with two degrees in hand, and my dream job as an urban planner.  I could not be more proud of how far I have come.... If I made it this far, I know that you can too!

An Opportunity to Change My Reality

September 10, 2020
Jessica Bueno '20, Animal Science 

By Jessica Bueno with Hailey Chatterton

I feel very blessed right now. 

Maybe that’s an unusual statement for 2020, but looking at the bigger picture, I have a lot to be grateful for. Not only did I graduate from my dream college, but I have a new goal and a plan I’m proud of, and I’ve had some memorable experiences along the way. 

My Name is Wilbert: A Thank You Letter

September 04, 2020
Wilbert De Leon '20  B.A. Communication, B.A. Economics - Behavior and Strategy Emphasis

This stole is a symbol of my perseverance, grit, and determination to meet my goals — an artifact to display on my wall for years to look at and tell myself, "I did that." 

My first-gen story does not start with me. It starts with my parents.

Researching Workers' Rights in Vietnam: My Past and Future Come Together

July 30, 2020
Eric Thai '20 discovers his academic pathway and his family history converge in research. 

“What is a Ph.D.?” My immigrant father asked.

He was understandably concerned about my plans to spend another 4-5 years pursuing another degree.

“A Ph.D. is a degree that prepares me to ask questions and contribute knowledge to the world.”

Seeing how stumped my dad was, I pulled out a pen and paper and started drawing concentric circles representing expanding bands of knowledge, with a Ph.D. as a mountain rising on the outer layer – and at its peak, an academic career.

From Farm Worker to PhD: My 10-Year Journey

February 27, 2020
Erika Estrada BS, Biological Science '16; PhD Student, Food Science

Ten years ago I arrived alone in the US with nothing but a dream. Now I am proud to call myself a scientist, a PhD student, and a mentor. My family, while loving and supportive, never imagined that I would become a scientist. To be honest, neither did I.

From Nothing to Everything

February 13, 2020
Layla Al Asadi '20 Psychology and Human Development

By Layla Al Asadi with Hailey Chatterton

First-Gen Stole Contest: Jenny Zavala

June 04, 2019
The two hands represent my parents, and the rag being twisted holds everything that represents my parents such as their hardships, sacrifices, and dreams. By twisting the rag, both hands “shower” me with love, support and most important of all, an opportunity. At the bottom is a representation of me in my graduation gown holding my diploma while I receive my parents loving gifts which all contribute to my growth of who I am today.

First-Gen Stole Contest: Chelsea Blankenship

June 04, 2019
Being a first-gen student comes with its challenges, but for Chelsea Blankenship, the journey had bittersweet movements, where she learned to find beauty in darkness. Through her poem, simple talk, Chelsea hopes to help other students understand that they are capable to overcome trauma and that they are beautiful being.

First-Gen Stole Contest: Roseanne Gorelik

May 31, 2019
As the daughter of two immigrants, Roseanne Gorelik and her family was ecstatic for her to have the opportunity to attend UC Davis, and to now see her graduate, it is a dream come true for the family. Through her written poem: Us: In Poems, Roseanne describes her powerful relationship with her family and how her journey through college, was not just for her, but for her family as well.