Helping Others as a First-Year Student Senator

Chancellor May poses with the students on the Picnic Day committee during the icecream social at the Chancellor's Residence.
Karin Higgins/UC Davis

My name is Michael C. Navarro. I am a second-year at UC Davis double majoring in psychology and political science—public service along with a Spanish minor. I chose this university because Davis felt like an inviting, open-minded campus that would provide me with the resources to succeed. Growing up as a minority within a small community in California’s central valley, representation is something that has always spoken closely to me. So, like many high-achieving students, since my middle school years I have been drawn to leadership positions that allow me to give back to my community.

Fast forward to 2022, and here I am helping to coordinate Picnic Day. Picnic Day is UC Davis’ annual open house organized by ASUCD, the Associated Students of the University of California, Davis, and is thought to be the nation's largest student-run event. In my position as parade director, I have had the great experience of doing outreach with the parade team, contacting departments and organizations throughout the Davis community. I even got the opportunity to plan the Picnic Day kick-off! This is the opening ceremony with Chancellor May and the Picnic Day chair speaking just before the marshal starts the parade.

UC Davis Marching Band playing at sunny Picnic Day 2022
Gregory Urquiaga/ UC Davis

First-Year Leader? No Problem

Since I involved myself in student government throughout my middle and high school years, I sought a similar community immediately once I was accepted at the University of California, Davis. With the intention of being outgoing during my time at UC Davis, I actively sought roles and positions that would allow me to explore what the university had to offer. I was first introduced to ASUCD when I joined the Internal Affairs Commission the summer before my first quarter at Davis.

Although I barely had any exposure to ASUCD, I took a leap of faith, petitioning to be on the fall quarter ballot to become an ASUCD Senator. Out of 15 candidates, I expected myself to fall short beneath the cracks. I was a first-year student during Zoom University, running against 15 upperclassmen to be an elected official for UC Davis. Due to the great community I made in the CASA Cuauhtémoc Living-Learning Community in the Segundo residence hall area, I was able to make this campaign a reality. If it were not for the support of the community, I would have never been elected.

Successfully Serving My Community

Even more important than helping to coordinate Picnic Day, the main reason I am involved with ASUCD and ran to be an elected senator was to make UC Davis a more inclusive, welcoming campus that all students can call home. My first goal was to speak up for first-years, and I reached that easily by being the only first-year senator at the table. Furthering COVID-19 awareness was another goal, and I was able to help out with the vaccination task force, where, alongside the chancellor and senate pro tempore, I spoke out about why individuals should get vaccinated.

And with the help of the AB540 Center and ASUCD DREAMers, I fulfilled an objective that two previous senators could not untangle: supplying financial relief vouchers to those struggling because of the pandemic. This was one of my biggest accomplishments and something I am very proud of. I also advocated for further support of the AB540 Center to help undocumented students who face greater burdens when pursuing higher education. I went a step further by creating legislation to assist those struggling with mental health issues who might not know about campus resources.

Expanding my Major with Student Government

Thanks to the participation and exposure I received in ASUCD, I have really grown, not only as an Aggie, but as an adult in our society. Being involved in student government at college allowed me to explore my major in political science—public service. In the organization, I was able to apply the skills I read about in textbooks to diplomatically raise concerns about issues then logistically find solutions, such as highlighting the greater burdens placed on individuals with mental health struggles and who are undocumented, due to the pandemic. Furthermore, with regards to public service, as an ASUCD Senator I played a role in the discussions and legislation surrounding current events like Asian hate and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Gaining this amazing experience has helped me develop greater leadership, outreach and advocacy skills. Due to this position, I have also been able to branch out to other activities within UC Davis such as a job as building supervisor at the Activities and Recreation Center, becoming an Aggie Orientation team leader and being an Alpha Sigma Phi brother. Other than deciding to enroll at UC Davis, getting out there and becoming involved in the activities campus has to offer has been one of the best decisions I have made thus far.

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