Jara, 21, is the first in his family to attend a four-year college… He admits to some doubts that first year, feeling engineering wasn’t what he wanted to do. But a friend he met playing basketball “kept on motivating me to stay, and I’m happy I stayed.”
“I wanted to be in an environment where I could motivate and help other people in underrepresented groups to reach their potential,” Ascencio said. “That’s what the research lab and STEM Diversity were doing for me.”
“Having a community of other like-minded students is so important. It helps you succeed throughout school and beyond school as well,” she said. “Having the mentors I had in MEP and STEM diversity—helpful and supportive mentors—really made a difference.”
Ariqat, a first-generation college student, hoped for a new beginning at UC Santa Cruz, which she attended in part because “I felt like I could be who I was,” she said. “My first year of college I was excited when I was placed in Oakes and saw that there were many students who looked like me, pursuing a degree in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics].”
Sanchez arrived at UC Santa Cruz with a passion for scientific exploration, but adjusting to college life was a challenge. A first-generation college student, he could not turn to his parents for advice about coping and thriving at a university.