"Today's ship does not sail on yesterday's wind." - The Walking Drum by Louis L'Amour.
|Posted on February 26, 2016|
5th Year Transfer
Major: Cultural Anthropology
Hometown: Etiwanda, CA
Involvements at UCI:
|Tell us about a defining moment in your life.|
After High School, I worked several jobs to support my family, but something deep inside me wanted to see the world from the deck of a ship. I was also too shy to talk to this pretty girl I liked.
One day when I was 19, I woke up as alone and exhausted as ever, and I realized I was heading for a bad life. I also realized that I didn’t have to continue on that path. That day, I bought flowers for the girl, then I quit my jobs and joined the Navy. Nothing turned out the way I planned but it started an amazing adventure. Whenever I think I don’t have the power to change something, I remember that day.
Another defining moment happened just a few weeks ago when I opened a letter from a medical school I was hoping to attend. It was a rejection letter.
I wasn’t surprised - my MCAT score was just average - but part of me had hoped that my other experiences would balance out my application. I felt a little sad. The next morning I woke up, looked at the letter, and accepted that I had not earned an acceptance. It was time to move forward, not time to sulk. I pinned the letter to my bedroom wall and every day it reminds me to work smart for what I want because I have power over my future.
|Who are your role models? How have they helped shape you into a leader?|
My mom, for showing me how to love others. My siblings, Dave, Nat and Chris, for laughing.
My friend, Fr. Roger Boucher - for opening the world of books to me, and for teaching me the virtues of self-discipline. Whatever good I do in my life would be less, if not for his influence.
UCI Professor Don Blake - for proving to me that a veteran can succeed in academia.
UCI Professor Anita Casavantes - a warrior and a scholar.
UCI Professor Ralph Clayman - a man who plants trees whose shade he will not sit in.
|What is your favorite memory at UCI?|
That’s a tough one, there are a lot! I enjoyed going to Indonesia with Dr. Zuzana Bic to study alternative medicines and public health. I hope I never forget walking along that subak on a foggy morning, or learning to speak Bahasa from the locals, or seeing the impossibly elaborate, colorful funerals of the Balinese. Offerings of canang sari were left on sidewalks; smelling them every morning reminded me of the importance of religion in that cohesive community. I learned how faith could affect the dispensation of medicines, and that it didn’t always lead to the results one might expect.
I also accomplished one of the hardest feats of my entire life in Bali: I climbed Gunung Agung. I probably wouldn’t have made it to the top if it weren’t for another Anteater climbing it with me. I’ll never forget trudging up that muddy mountain, and the feeling of clouds falling away from me.
Other fantastic memories I have from UCI: presenting the commemorative UCI Medal to two of UCI’s most faithful sponsors: Tom and Elizabeth Tierney, enjoying dinner with Chancellor Drake, digging through piles of publications to learn a fact, enjoying dinner with Chancellor Gillman, seeing my mentee in the SSAM program go on to become the program’s coordinator, joining friends and strangers in Aldrich Park for picnics, and reading Shakespearean sonnets as homework for Dr. McWilliams’ physics class.
|What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today?|
No one has laid more obstacles in my path than me. I daily fight the urge to be lazy and procrastinate. I stay at school until my work is done - often after midnight - and I keep my laptop in my car so I’ll read a book instead of watching Netflix. I use a cheap flip-phone for the same reason - limiting distractions. To the daily torment of my roommate, I keep my alarm clock on the other side of my bedroom so I have no choice but to get up in the morning.
When I was 14 years old, my parents divorced and lost our house, and my mom was diagnosed with some pretty nasty cancer. We went from having pretty happy Christmases in a big house, to five people living in a tiny motorhome. My siblings and I forged stronger relationships and learned to support each other and laugh it off.
I’ve learned that when an obstacle is unavoidable: steer into it. It isn’t going away because you ignore it. It isn’t going away because you say it isn’t fair.
|If you could change one thing about UCI what would it be?|
On our campus of almost 30,000 students, there are over 200 Anteaters who have been trained in academies to become proficient in highly technical skills. Some of these students can operate advanced radar equipment, direct medical teams, operate watercraft, disarm bombs, fly jets, or code complex computer programs. They can think clearly in frightening situations, they have travelled to other countries, experienced other cultures, and have probably handled more responsibility at 20-years of age, than most people do in their entire lives.
These Anteaters have years of on-the-job training in their respective proficiencies, whether in linguistics, electronics, engineering, computer science, medicine, logistics or chemistry. These Anteaters transfer to UCI from jobs and formal schools that have awarded lab and class credits for demonstrating their abilities - not unlike we do here at UCI - but because they are transfers, they have less time to steep in this scholarly environment, and less time to make their contributions to UC Irvine.
As I have said before, I applaud UCI faculty and staff for making veterans feel safe and welcome on this campus by granting them housing and registration privileges as well as allowing them to meet in their own resource center. Veterans are even permitted to celebrate their culture on Veteran’s Day and publicly remember their fallen comrades on Memorial Day. Certainly UCI has enthusiastically exceeded the minimum expectation.
But, the question was: if I could change one thing about UC Irvine.
I would have this outstanding university, that I already take so much pride in, be the first UC campus to accept military Joint Service Transcripts, or encourage the WASC to accredit military schools and make JST units UC-Transferable. If anyone could break that barrier, it is the University of California, Irvine.
|Tell us about an accomplishment that you are proud of.|
My least-funny stories are about my accomplishments, but I’ll share one anyway.
While I was in the military, I spent two years as a medic for a Navy ship, and three years as a medic for the Marine infantry. I never was an exceptional Sailor, or Marine, but most days I looked forward to practicing medicine. I read manuals and stayed to assist in treatments when patients came in late. I stressed about my patients and eventually I got used to being woken up at 2am because someone was hurt. Over the years, I became a good corpsman and I realized this was how I wanted to spend my life: Not sailing, not being G.I. Joe, but practicing medicine.
But, getting out of the military is a tough proposition, to put it lightly. I am proud that I served my country, but I am also proud that I had the courage to get out of the military to chase the hell out of my dream. I encourage all Anteaters to do likewise: chase your dream. If you cry first, that’s okay.
My involvement at UCI started with the Transfer Summer Start Program preceding my first Fall quarter. Later in the year, I was mentored in the Social Sciences Academic Mentorship Program, hosted by Kathy Dong. I joined a genetics research lab (but didn’t like it) and took an extra class in literature – which I loved. I volunteered with the Veterans Services Center at UCI, helping to set up for events, man booths and help out whenever I can.
I stayed a second year in SSAM to mentor others (my mentee is now the program coordinator - I am very proud of her.) and joined the Boys & Girls Club of America. Over a year, I got to know my freshman-mentee, Josue, and help him reach for his goals. I tried starting an organization for Transfer students but it never took off. I joined a lab in the Medical Center and became preoccupied with surgery and research.
This year, I’ve helped found the 1st Generation/1st Quarter Challenge Program, hosted by Dr. Anita Casavantes - which aims to help other first-generation students adjust well and succeed in college. Last quarter, I helped teach the Veterans in Higher Education course on Wednesdays.
I currently work in the Rowland-Blake Research Group, which samples and analyzes the breaths of patients as well as gases in the atmosphere. I’m also doing my thesis in anthropology, being advised by the great Angela Jenks.