Student Life & Leadership IT

AntLeader Spotlight

April, 2017

Marlene Uriostegui

Marlene Uriostegui
Psychology and Social Behavior & Education Sciences, Spanish minor
Orange, CA


UCI Involvements:
Peer Academic Advising, Peer Academic Advising Coordinator (Spring 2016-Current), Summer Edge Discussion Leader for University Studies 83-Pathways to Success (Summer 2014, Summer 2015, Summer 2016), University Studies 1 Discussion Leader, University Studies 1 Discussion Leader Coordinator (2015-2016)

What is one of your most memorable experiences at UCI?
One of my most memorable experiences at UCI was participating in the University Studies 1 Program as a Discussion Leader. The University Studies 1 Program is dedicated to helping first year students transition to UCI by providing them with the tools necessary to succeed at the university level. Being a part of the US 1 Program was a life-changing experience that helped me realize the importance of providing support to others and the power of a mentorship role. As a first generation college student, I had very little college knowledge and adjusting to UCI as a commuter was a challenge in itself. The amount of support I found within the Undergraduate/Undeclared Advising Office, including my Discussion Leader and Peer Academic Advisors, helped me adjust to UCI and discover my true passions.  It was the support and impact that the program had on me that motivated me to pursue a Discussion Leader position where I would have the opportunity to create a positive impact on another student’s life by providing them with my unconditional support and guidance. I am very thankful for having been able to participate in a program where I felt a strong sense of community and support from all the individuals who were a part of it. I have to say, my students were truly the most memorable part of this experience as I learned more from them than they could have ever learned from me! I will never forget the bonds I created with my students and it was truly inspiring to observe their growth in a 10 week period!

Who is your role model at UCI? What was their impact on you?
My role model at UCI is Brittany Betancourt, an academic counselor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Brittany was my supervisor in the Discussion Leader Program and she was also the course lecturer for University Studies 1. I am so thankful and honored to have had the opportunity to work with her in my role as a DL. Brittany’s dedication to helping students and determination to bring about positive change is truly inspiring. I have always admired the time and attention that Brittany dedicates to her position and to each of her students; she always strives to make her students feel valued, validated, and supported and in my opinion, is what makes her amazing at what she does. Brittany has taught me the importance of believing in ourselves, pursuing our passions, and more importantly, to always follow our hearts and never stop learning.  I will never forget all of the lessons she has taught me about leadership and about life in general, but more importantly the one piece of advice that will forever resonate with me is her key phrase, “trust the process.”

What was one obstacle that you have overcome?
One of the obstacles that I have overcome during my time at UCI has been making a switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.  I remember during my first year at UCI always feeling afraid of putting myself out there and applying to a job or internship. I constantly worried about the “what ifs” and soon realized that it was my way of thinking that was hindering me from pursuing opportunities that I was highly interested in. With the support that I received from my mentors that I met through the Undergraduate/Undeclared Advising Office, I soon started realizing that instead of looking at failure in a negative way, it is important to take a chance and if things do not work out the way we had hoped initially, then that’s okay too because it is these moments that serve as learning opportunities. I then realized that even if I applied for a position and did not get the job, or received a low score on an exam, this would not always be the case and the best thing I could do for myself was take a moment to sit back, reflect, and think about the ways in which I could better prepare myself for the future. Once I made this realization, I gave myself the opportunity to apply to the University Studies 1 Discussion Leader Program, which also led me to apply to the Summer Edge Discussion Leader Program, and eventually the Peer Academic Advising Program, all of which have been experiences that have contributed to shaping me into the leader I am today. I am thankful for the wonderful people I have met in each of these involvements and beyond grateful for all of the support that I received from my supervisors and peers!

What was one obstacle you overcame?
One thing that I am looking forward to after graduation is pursuing a career that I love. I have always dreamt of having a career where I can wake up every morning knowing that I am doing something that I am passionate about and that is making a positive impact in the lives of others and in my community. After graduation, I hope to continue exploring my interests in academic counseling and teaching but more importantly, I am looking forward to continue growing and learning personally and professionally!

What’s one thing you’re looking forward to after graduation?
My biggest piece of advice for incoming students would be to believe in yourself! UCI chose YOU because you have something special to offer to your community. Don’t ever doubt it! The UCI campus offers amazing opportunities for its students and wonderful resources that are here to help you succeed. Always remember that you are extremely valuable and worthy and that there are people here who are ready to support you! And lastly, it is okay to not have it all figured out. College is a time where you will continue learning and growing, both inside and outside the classroom setting. I encourage you to ask questions, find something you love and get involved in it, seek out different opportunities, and don’t forget that self-care is highly important and integral to your success at UCI!