Stories: Students

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.