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What Are Aggies Up To? Juan Quero Works as an RA

August 27, 2018 - 2:44pm
Emma Hoppough

Juan Quero jokes that he still doesn’t know how he landed his resident advisor position at UC Davis. “I was super shy,” he admits, remembering the interview process. Fortunately, when the Oxnard native let his enthusiasm shine through, he surprised himself: not only did he receive a job offer for the next year, but he also advanced within the ranks of student housing until earning his current role as senior resident advisor (SRA). Now a fourth-year student double majoring in English and Sociology, Juan’s work-life separation can grow hazy—and sometimes it disappears entirely. Nevertheless, Juan has found a home in in Davis, and he’s on a mission to make a home for others.

Photos by Rafael Velasco

Working With Residents

Because they work in and for their university, resident advisors give new meaning to the phrase “college career.” But why are RAs necessary? Aside from their supervisory duties for student housing (without them, Juan says, “all hell would break loose”), an RA can make all the difference for a new student. While Juan admits the promise of on-campus room and board initially sparked his interest in the job, he soon understood its real value. “Coming to Davis as a first-gen student, I realized that in order to help my mom, who’s a single mother…this [job] killed two birds with one stone,” he remembers. But freshman year is a vulnerable time for many students (a time for new places, faces and challenges), and when Juan reflected on his experiences he remembered the impact of seeing a friendly face in the hall. “Looking back now, I didn’t take advantage of [my RA] much as a resource…I just remember she was always there, she always gave me a smile, she always asked how my day was going,” he says.

Wanting others to enjoy their first year as much he did, Juan made it his goal to emulate these experiences for his own residents. “For those that don’t have an immediate support circle or strong bonds with friends, then the RA pretty much acts as a service to that,” he says. So while Juan has moved through nightly rounds, hosted academic events and aided countless locked-out students, he’s also made an effort to act as a friend—and even an unofficial matchmaker—for the students around him. “I care deeply about making sure [my residents] are safe and that they felt welcome in their space,” he explains. “I try to make bonds in those moments.”

Becoming a Student Leader

Despite its perks, acting as an RA is no easy task. Juan says that the hardest part about his job is not the work itself, but the struggle to balance it with life beyond the dorms. “If you were to separate the two aspects of it, the on-call responsibilities and the role of a student, being an RA itself isn’t that hard,” he explains. “But when [you have] finals or midterms back to back, or you have assignments due Monday and you’re on-call on weekends—I’ve had moments where I’m on-call until four in the morning and I had a paper due the following Monday.” On-call hours are long—from 6 p.m. on Fridays to 6 p.m. on Sundays during weekends—and Juan remembers his shock at realizing he couldn’t leave the dorms in that time. Now that he’s on call for one week at a time as an SRA, he has to plan his classes around this schedule.

Meanwhile, an RA has to take on an authoritative role—and it’s not always easy to reprimand your own peers. “I’ve seen people try to overwork themselves by being friends with everybody, but it comes to a point where someone has to be that bad guy,” he says. While the job can be stressful, however, the dedication it requires does not go to waste. Aside from the relationships his role fosters, Juan says that “it really built a lot of discipline and focus.” As both a student and a leader—and a leader of  students—he knows his time is well spent.

Making a Home

So is being an RA worth the effort that it requires? Juan seems to think so. “I never really had my own space, so it’s been really nice each year, incrementally, to call a place mine,” he says about returning to Malcolm Hall, the same Segundo building in which he made memories as a freshman. Recalling his early experiences, he remembers bonding with his roommate over late-night movies or Friday trips to In-N-Out—“the little moments where you’re away from your parents, knowing that even when you’re away from home, you’re making Davis a home.”  And those moments began inside his freshman dorm.

“In my first year as a college student, this is where I kind of grew,” he says, gesturing to Segundo. Now, as he enters his final year of dorm living, he watches his residents grow, too. “I look at them and I think, ‘Oh, I remember that moment of having a first breakup, or that moment when you’re stressed out of your mind’—it just puts things in perspective for me.”

Before gearing up for Orientation, Juan shares this perspective with incoming freshman. His advice for smooth smailing? First, he says, “Set boundaries with your roommate—it saves a lot of headaches later.” Secondly, “Use your RA as a resource more often, whether it’s your RA or one on a different floor.” He concludes with his most important tip: “Enjoy it!” After all, this will be your home, too.

Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office.

What Are Aggies Up To? Juan Quero Works as an RA

August 27, 2018 - 2:44pm
Emma Hoppough

Juan Quero jokes that he still doesn’t know how he landed his resident advisor position at UC Davis. “I was super shy,” he admits, remembering the interview process. Fortunately, when the Oxnard native let his enthusiasm shine through, he surprised himself: not only did he receive a job offer for the next year, but he also advanced within the ranks of student housing until earning his current role as senior resident advisor (SRA). Now a fourth-year student double majoring in English and Sociology, Juan’s work-life separation can grow hazy—and sometimes it disappears entirely. Nevertheless, Juan has found a home in in Davis, and he’s on a mission to make a home for others.

Photos by Rafael Velasco

Working With Residents

Because they work in and for their university, resident advisors give new meaning to the phrase “college career.” But why are RAs necessary? Aside from their supervisory duties for student housing (without them, Juan says, “all hell would break loose”), an RA can make all the difference for a new student. While Juan admits the promise of on-campus room and board initially sparked his interest in the job, he soon understood its real value. “Coming to Davis as a first-gen student, I realized that in order to help my mom, who’s a single mother…this [job] killed two birds with one stone,” he remembers. But freshman year is a vulnerable time for many students (a time for new places, faces and challenges), and when Juan reflected on his experiences he remembered the impact of seeing a friendly face in the hall. “Looking back now, I didn’t take advantage of [my RA] much as a resource…I just remember she was always there, she always gave me a smile, she always asked how my day was going,” he says.

Wanting others to enjoy their first year as much he did, Juan made it his goal to emulate these experiences for his own residents. “For those that don’t have an immediate support circle or strong bonds with friends, then the RA pretty much acts as a service to that,” he says. So while Juan has moved through nightly rounds, hosted academic events and aided countless locked-out students, he’s also made an effort to act as a friend—and even an unofficial matchmaker—for the students around him. “I care deeply about making sure [my residents] are safe and that they felt welcome in their space,” he explains. “I try to make bonds in those moments.”

Becoming a Student Leader

Despite its perks, acting as an RA is no easy task. Juan says that the hardest part about his job is not the work itself, but the struggle to balance it with life beyond the dorms. “If you were to separate the two aspects of it, the on-call responsibilities and the role of a student, being an RA itself isn’t that hard,” he explains. “But when [you have] finals or midterms back to back, or you have assignments due Monday and you’re on-call on weekends—I’ve had moments where I’m on-call until four in the morning and I had a paper due the following Monday.” On-call hours are long—from 6 p.m. on Fridays to 6 p.m. on Sundays during weekends—and Juan remembers his shock at realizing he couldn’t leave the dorms in that time. Now that he’s on call for one week at a time as an SRA, he has to plan his classes around this schedule.

Meanwhile, an RA has to take on an authoritative role—and it’s not always easy to reprimand your own peers. “I’ve seen people try to overwork themselves by being friends with everybody, but it comes to a point where someone has to be that bad guy,” he says. While the job can be stressful, however, the dedication it requires does not go to waste. Aside from the relationships his role fosters, Juan says that “it really built a lot of discipline and focus.” As both a student and a leader—and a leader of  students—he knows his time is well spent.

Making a Home

So is being an RA worth the effort that it requires? Juan seems to think so. “I never really had my own space, so it’s been really nice each year, incrementally, to call a place mine,” he says about returning to Malcolm Hall, the same Segundo building in which he made memories as a freshman. Recalling his early experiences, he remembers bonding with his roommate over late-night movies or Friday trips to In-N-Out—“the little moments where you’re away from your parents, knowing that even when you’re away from home, you’re making Davis a home.”  And those moments began inside his freshman dorm.

“In my first year as a college student, this is where I kind of grew,” he says, gesturing to Segundo. Now, as he enters his final year of dorm living, he watches his residents grow, too. “I look at them and I think, ‘Oh, I remember that moment of having a first breakup, or that moment when you’re stressed out of your mind’—it just puts things in perspective for me.”

Before gearing up for Orientation, Juan shares this perspective with incoming freshman. His advice for smooth smailing? First, he says, “Set boundaries with your roommate—it saves a lot of headaches later.” Secondly, “Use your RA as a resource more often, whether it’s your RA or one on a different floor.” He concludes with his most important tip: “Enjoy it!” After all, this will be your home, too.

Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office.

How to Go with the Flow at UC Davis

August 24, 2018 - 12:00pm
Emma Hoppough

Attention all incoming freshmen and indecisive undergrads: I’ve got a few campus cheat sheets for you.

Do you know where to nap in any given moment? Do you know where to grab food after a final, or where to read all of the assigned PDFs you downloaded? If you find yourself struggling to answer these questions or wandering aimlessly between classes, fret no more! Simply consult the following flow charts to make smart choices at UC Davis (while saving some brain power for life’s larger decisions).


  • Click here to explore the official UC Davis Nap Map
  • Click here to explore different dining options and computer rooms on campus

Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office.

How to Go with the Flow at UC Davis

August 24, 2018 - 12:00pm
Emma Hoppough

Attention all incoming freshmen and indecisive undergrads: I’ve got a few campus cheat sheets for you.

Do you know where to nap in any given moment? Do you know where to grab food after a final, or where to read all of the assigned PDFs you downloaded? If you find yourself struggling to answer these questions or wandering aimlessly between classes, fret no more! Simply consult the following flow charts to make smart choices at UC Davis (while saving some brain power for life’s larger decisions).


  • Click here to explore the official UC Davis Nap Map
  • Click here to explore different dining options and computer rooms on campus

Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office.

YOUR UNOFFICIAL COLLEGE PACKING LIST

August 23, 2018 - 2:25pm
Emma Hoppough

Illustrations by Rebecca Spin

Moving to college can feel thrilling—but for me, it also involved many lists and flowcharts full of packing notes. I was (and am) a planner by nature, yet I was entering unknown territory: How many boxes could I Tetris into a car to make a dorm feel like home?

As it turns out, you need less than you think. For every item that you forget to pack, Amazon probably sells four different versions (with one-day delivery to campus!). Even so, packing smartly now might save you some stress later. In this moment of transition, why not take some time to evaluate everything—mental and material—that you want to carry to this next stage of life? You can use this list as guide.

BRING ALONG

Small Comforts: a book you love, a playlist you authored, a photo of someone you’ll miss and a blanket to burrow into

Home Goods: extra towels and bedsheets for postponed laundry days, and scissors and tape for schoolwork and DIY repairs

Feel-Better Supplies: Emergen-C, Nyquil, Band-Aids and a thermometer (first recommended to me by a nurse after I discovered I’d been walking around with a 103-degree fever and not, as I had thought, near-perfect health)

The Right Amount of Clothing: include one good interview outfit, a jacket fit for rain and a swimsuit for Davis summers

Entertainment: an HDMI cable for movie nights, a card game to play with hallmates and slightly downsized hobbies (like hiking shoes, well-used art supplies, small instruments and portable baking equipment)

A Good Attitude: curiosity, humor, optimism and adventure

INVEST IN

Cleanliness: Clorox wipes, a laundry hamper, a shower caddy that won’t fill with water and some form of air freshener (you don’t think you’ll need it but…you’ll need it)

Personal Space: a desk lamp to brighten your room, poster putty or Command Strips to hang decorations, containers to sort your goods and a power strip to stretch your outlets’ potential

A College Kitchen: bare-minimum dishware, a hot water kettle (for coffee and ramen) and a mini fridge (if you want the security of knowing that your leftovers won’t mysteriously vanish)

On-the-Go Goods: quality earbuds, a phone case that can hold your student id, a durable water bottle and reusable shopping bags (we’re in California, after all)

Sleep Aids: earplugs, an eye mask and a pillow you’ll look forward to napping on

All-Around Appreciation: confidence, pride, your friends Before College and your friends During College

LEAVE BEHIND

Duplicates: any dorm items that your roommate is bringing (that they don’t mind sharing)

Details: tools that aren’t screwdrivers, desk supplies that aren’t scissors and cooking equipment that isn’t microwave friendly (you can grab anything else once you know what you need)

Bulk: clothes you wear once a year, shoes that give you blisters, furniture that doesn’t fold or stack and heavy books that you only want for their aesthetic value

Anything Else That Weighs You Down: feelings of inadequacy, feelings of superiority, unnecessary worrying, unhealthy relationships and narrow perspectives

Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office.

YOUR UNOFFICIAL COLLEGE PACKING LIST

August 23, 2018 - 2:25pm
Emma Hoppough

Illustrations by Rebecca Spin

Moving to college can feel thrilling—but for me, it also involved many lists and flowcharts full of packing notes. I was (and am) a planner by nature, yet I was entering unknown territory: How many boxes could I Tetris into a car to make a dorm feel like home?

As it turns out, you need less than you think. For every item that you forget to pack, Amazon probably sells four different versions (with one-day delivery to campus!). Even so, packing smartly now might save you some stress later. In this moment of transition, why not take some time to evaluate everything—mental and material—that you want to carry to this next stage of life? You can use this list as guide.

BRING ALONG

Small Comforts: a book you love, a playlist you authored, a photo of someone you’ll miss and a blanket to burrow into

Home Goods: extra towels and bedsheets for postponed laundry days, and scissors and tape for schoolwork and DIY repairs

Feel-Better Supplies: Emergen-C, Nyquil, Band-Aids and a thermometer (first recommended to me by a nurse after I discovered I’d been walking around with a 103-degree fever and not, as I had thought, near-perfect health)

The Right Amount of Clothing: include one good interview outfit, a jacket fit for rain and a swimsuit for Davis summers

Entertainment: an HDMI cable for movie nights, a card game to play with hallmates and slightly downsized hobbies (like hiking shoes, well-used art supplies, small instruments and portable baking equipment)

A Good Attitude: curiosity, humor, optimism and adventure

INVEST IN

Cleanliness: Clorox wipes, a laundry hamper, a shower caddy that won’t fill with water and some form of air freshener (you don’t think you’ll need it but…you’ll need it)

Personal Space: a desk lamp to brighten your room, poster putty or Command Strips to hang decorations, containers to sort your goods and a power strip to stretch your outlets’ potential

A College Kitchen: bare-minimum dishware, a hot water kettle (for coffee and ramen) and a mini fridge (if you want the security of knowing that your leftovers won’t mysteriously vanish)

On-the-Go Goods: quality earbuds, a phone case that can hold your student id, a durable water bottle and reusable shopping bags (we’re in California, after all)

Sleep Aids: earplugs, an eye mask and a pillow you’ll look forward to napping on

All-Around Appreciation: confidence, pride, your friends Before College and your friends During College

LEAVE BEHIND

Duplicates: any dorm items that your roommate is bringing (that they don’t mind sharing)

Details: tools that aren’t screwdrivers, desk supplies that aren’t scissors and cooking equipment that isn’t microwave friendly (you can grab anything else once you know what you need)

Bulk: clothes you wear once a year, shoes that give you blisters, furniture that doesn’t fold or stack and heavy books that you only want for their aesthetic value

Anything Else That Weighs You Down: feelings of inadequacy, feelings of superiority, unnecessary worrying, unhealthy relationships and narrow perspectives

Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office.

The Joy Fergoda Library: Bringing the Margins to the Center

August 13, 2018 - 2:12pm
Emma Hoppough

Photos by Rafael Velasco

When I was in high school, my mom would wave me out of the car on rainy mornings with a reminder: “Please just go to the library before class!” Instead, I would roll my eyes and meet my friends in the stuffy gym locker room—a place where we could theoretically goof off, but where we usually just complained about the weather before trudging to first period. I can’t explain my past aversion to the library—I always loved books, and English was my favorite class—but something about it, about the eagle-eyed librarians and the textbook-focused collection, never drew me in.

Fast-forward to 2017, when I stepped timidly into the Joy Fergoda Library in the UC Davis Women’s Resources and Research Center (WRRC): immediately, I spotted cushioned chairs, tea and coffee, and studious-looking undergrads dotting the cozy space. Looking more closely, I realized that it was not a typical library at all. The shelves were filled with books written by women authors, and with topics ranging ranging from ecofeminism to Native American mythology. The counter held pamphlets on self-care, and the hallway outside displayed a poster about gender-neutral pronouns. This was a library I felt comfortable in.

Although the library occupies just one room in North Hall, it feature an increasingly large collection and an impressive history. Named for the WRRC’s first full-time librarian, the Joy Fergoda library opened in the 1970s with only 150 books on the shelves. Nearly 50 years later, that collection has grown to hold over 12,000 books, films and more; meanwhile, its mission has similarly expanded to focus on student self-care, intersectional feminism and judgement-free learning. But how can such a small space meet these ambitious goals?

To learn more about the library, I spoke with three people who know it best: Mary Rasooli, the first-ever student library coordinator and a recent UC Davis graduate; Lulu Zhang, the library’s Volunteer of the Year and a graduating US History major; and Jessica Castellon, the assistant director of education for the WRRC. Our conversations showed me that the Joy Fergoda Library’s small-scale collection does not limit its impact, but instead enables it to address large-scale issues one Dewey Decimal number at a time.

Q: IN YOUR OWN WORDS, WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THE JOY FERGODA LIBRARY?

Mary: I think this is a different type of library…Here you can find so much on queer theory, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity—all these things that affect all of us, that we don’t necessarily have access to or that we might not be comfortable going in spaces [to request information about].

Lulu: While students are spending their time here, they get to learn more about gender equity. Even in the restrooms—we have two gender-inclusive restrooms to expose students to the idea that you can challenge the gender binary norms. On the back of the door on each stall, right now, there are two statements: “You are valid,” and “I love you.”

Q: BUT WHY SEPARATE THIS COLLECTION FROM THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY? HOW DOES THE SPACE—THE WRRC—AFFECT HOW STUDENTS INTERACT WITH THESE BOOKS?

Jessica: When it’s a larger collection, it’s easier to get lost. We have some autonomy and agency to pick what goes in our library…For example, we have zines, comic books, poetry books. Sometimes these things aren’t seen as scholarly, but we feel like they are scholarly because it’s knowledge, so we’re bringing the margins to the center.

Mary: We look at what [artists, writers or poets] have released and published recently, and pick and choose what fits for our center. For us, it’s really anything; we want to be able to represent an array of subjects. For the most part a lot of the books we have here, Shields [the university library] doesn’t have. It’s just really new stuff.

Q: GIVEN THAT THE LIBRARY IS PART OF A “RESOURCES AND RESEARCH” CENTER, WHAT RESOURCES DOES IT PROVIDE FOR STUDENTS?

Jessica: We have multiple material resources in the library: coffee and tea, printing services, a charging station, blue books for finals and midterms, a GRE loan program for folks to check out study materials and a reserve library for classes.

Lulu: There are lots of flyers, pamphlets and resources for people of different needs. We don’t just provide people with information on birth control, we also provide them with [information on] how to help yourself and your friends during a crisis: how to fight depression, accidental pregnancy, stalking behavior and more…It’s pretty radical, now that I’m telling you about it.

Q: ARE THERE LIBRARY-SPECIFIC PROGRAMS AS WELL?

Mary: We run the Feminist Dialogues speaker series [a collaboration with the Feminist Research Institute]. We want folks to have access to these individuals who have gotten through academia or maybe aren’t doing stuff in academia but are impacting the way we produce knowledge in some other way…We had someone [participate in the series] who had their PhD in different forms of parenting and mothering, so she gave us a really cool talk about her research. It was a way for people to meet someone who had graduated but was also still doing work in academia—and really cool radical work.

Lulu: The library also has a program called STEM Cafe. It provides free tutoring for people—especially women—in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]. Twice a month we have a set date and location; you just come in with your questions.

Q: SO WHO CAN USE THE LIBRARY? WHO CAN COME INTO THE WRRC?

Jessica: So many people use our library. There are particular folks who feel safe in the space—I think queer and trans, femme folks do feel safe in this space to come in, eat their lunch, have dialogue. A lot of our volunteers for STEM cafe are men—but I think they come with the understanding that we’re doing this with a feminist perspective

Lulu: Some male students told me that because it’s called the “women’s” center they thought it was for women exclusively, which is not right…Anyone can come, no matter your identities.

Q: ARE YOU HOPING TO SEE ANY CHANGES IN THE NEXT YEAR?

Mary: I want to see more engagement with students in the library. Students come here for our tea, our coffee, our quiet spaces and printing resources, but I would like to see us do more long-term programming, like ways to engage people with the amazing literature that we have and all the cool stuff we’ve been ordering for the library.

Q: LASTLY, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BOOK FROM THE COLLECTION?

Mary: I like Salt, by Nayyirah Waheed. Her poetry is incredible. It’s pretty new, and she’s just someone we wanted to support because she’s amazing.

Jessica: I love the children’s books; I think what’s unique about our library is that we have children’s books that focus on race and class and gender. I love the one called [Morris Micklewhite and] the Tangerine Dress: it’s about a child, assigned “boy” at birth, who plays with gender identity. People, especially first-time parents, are trying to teach their kids these concepts.

Lulu: 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century—it’s a brief overview of influential women…I remember reading about a Chinese revolutionary woman who I didn’t read much about before I came here. It’s kind of like, if you have a four-year college degree, you should know these women; otherwise, how could you claim that you went through college?

You can find the Joy Fergoda Library, part of the Women’s Resources and Research Center, in the first floor of North Hall at UC Davis. To learn more about the library and the WRRC, check out these links:


Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office. 

The Joy Fergoda Library: Bringing the Margins to the Center

August 13, 2018 - 2:12pm
Emma Hoppough

Photos by Rafael Velasco

When I was in high school, my mom would wave me out of the car on rainy mornings with a reminder: “Please just go to the library before class!” Instead, I would roll my eyes and meet my friends in the stuffy gym locker room—a place where we could theoretically goof off, but where we usually just complained about the weather before trudging to first period. I can’t explain my past aversion to the library—I always loved books, and English was my favorite class—but something about it, about the eagle-eyed librarians and the textbook-focused collection, never drew me in.

Fast-forward to 2017, when I stepped timidly into the Joy Fergoda Library in the UC Davis Women’s Resources and Research Center (WRRC): immediately, I spotted cushioned chairs, tea and coffee, and studious-looking undergrads dotting the cozy space. Looking more closely, I realized that it was not a typical library at all. The shelves were filled with women authors and topics ranging ranging from ecofeminism to Native American mythology. The counter held pamphlets on self-care, and the hallway outside displayed a poster about gender-neutral pronouns. This was a library I felt comfortable in.

Although the library occupies just one room in North Hall, it feature an increasingly large collection and an impressive history. Named for the WRRC’s first full-time librarian, the Joy Fergoda library opened in the 1970s with only 150 books on the shelves. Nearly 50 years later, that collection has grown to hold over 12,000 books, films and more; meanwhile, its mission has similarly expanded to focus on student self-care, intersectional feminism and judgement-free learning. But how can such a small space meet these ambitious goals?

To learn more about the library, I spoke with three people who know it best: Mary Rasooli, the first-ever student library coordinator and a recent UC Davis graduate; Lulu Zhang, the library’s Volunteer of the Year and a graduating US History major; and Jessica Castellon, the assistant director of education for the WRRC. Our conversations showed me that the Joy Fergoda Library’s small-scale collection does not limit its impact, but instead enables it to address large-scale issues one Dewey Decimal number at a time.

Q: IN YOUR OWN WORDS, WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THE JOY FERGODA LIBRARY?

Mary: I think this is a different type of library…Here you can find so much on queer theory, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity—all these things that affect all of us, that we don’t necessarily have access to or that we might not be comfortable going in spaces [to request information about].

Lulu: While students are spending their time here, they get to learn more about gender equity. Even in the restrooms—we have two gender-inclusive restrooms to expose students to the idea that you can challenge the gender binary norms. On the back of the door on each stall, right now, there are two statements: “You are valid,” and “I love you.”

Q: BUT WHY SEPARATE THIS COLLECTION FROM THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY? HOW DOES THE SPACE—THE WRRC—AFFECT HOW STUDENTS INTERACT WITH THESE BOOKS?

Jessica: When it’s a larger collection, it’s easier to get lost. We have some autonomy and agency to pick what goes in our library…For example, we have zines, comic books, poetry books. Sometimes these things aren’t seen as scholarly, but we feel like they are scholarly because it’s knowledge, so we’re bringing the margins to the center.

Mary: We look at what [artists, writers or poets] have released and published recently, and pick and choose what fits for our center. For us, it’s really anything; we want to be able to represent an array of subjects. For the most part a lot of the books we have here, Shields [the university library] doesn’t have. It’s just really new stuff.

Q: GIVEN THAT THE LIBRARY IS PART OF A “RESOURCES AND RESEARCH” CENTER, WHAT RESOURCES DOES IT PROVIDE FOR STUDENTS?

Jessica: We have multiple material resources in the library: coffee and tea, printing services, a charging station, blue books for finals and midterms, a GRE loan program for folks to check out study materials and a reserve library for classes.

Lulu: There are lots of flyers, pamphlets and resources for people of different needs. We don’t just provide people with information on birth control, we also provide them with [information on] how to help yourself and your friends during a crisis: how to fight depression, accidental pregnancy, stalking behavior and more…It’s pretty radical, now that I’m telling you about it.

Q: ARE THERE LIBRARY-SPECIFIC PROGRAMS AS WELL?

Mary: We run the Feminist Dialogues speaker series [a collaboration with the Feminist Research Institute]. We want folks to have access to these individuals who have gotten through academia or maybe aren’t doing stuff in academia but are impacting the way we produce knowledge in some other way…We had someone [participate in the series] who had their PhD in different forms of parenting and mothering, so she gave us a really cool talk about her research. It was a way for people to meet someone who had graduated but was also still doing work in academia—and really cool radical work.

Lulu: The library also has a program called STEM Cafe. It provides free tutoring for people—especially women—in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]. Twice a month we have a set date and location; you just come in with your questions.

Q: SO WHO CAN USE THE LIBRARY? WHO CAN COME INTO THE WRRC?

Jessica: So many people use our library. There are particular folks who feel safe in the space—I think queer and trans, femme folks do feel safe in this space to come in, eat their lunch, have dialogue. A lot of our volunteers for STEM cafe are men—but I think they come with the understanding that we’re doing this with a feminist perspective

Lulu: Some male students told me that because it’s called the “women’s” center they thought it was for women exclusively, which is not right…Anyone can come, no matter your identities.

Q: ARE YOU HOPING TO SEE ANY CHANGES IN THE NEXT YEAR?

Mary: I want to see more engagement with students in the library. Students come here for our tea, our coffee, our quiet spaces and printing resources, but I would like to see us do more long-term programming, like ways to engage people with the amazing literature that we have and all the cool stuff we’ve been ordering for the library.

Q: LASTLY, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BOOK FROM THE COLLECTION?

Mary: I like Salt, by Nayyirah Waheed. Her poetry is incredible. It’s pretty new, and she’s just someone we wanted to support because she’s amazing.

Jessica: I love the children’s books; I think what’s unique about our library is that we have children’s books that focus on race and class and gender. I love the one called [Morris Micklewhite and] the Tangerine Dress: it’s about a child, assigned “boy” at birth, who plays with gender identity. People, especially first-time parents, are trying to teach their kids these concepts.

Lulu: 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century—it’s a brief overview of influential women…I remember reading about a Chinese revolutionary woman who I didn’t read much about before I came here. It’s kind of like, if you have a four-year college degree, you should know these women; otherwise, how could you claim that you went through college?

You can find the Joy Fergoda Library, part of the Women’s Resources and Research Center, in the first floor of North Hall at UC Davis. To learn more about the library and the WRRC, check out these links:


Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office. 

What Are Aggies Up to? Elaine How Is Learning to Save Lives

July 31, 2018 - 2:47pm
Emma Hoppough

Elaine How didn’t grow up knowing that she wanted to become a physician’s assistant, but she had a few good hints along the way. “Whenever I had tooth extractions I would hold a mirror and watch the dentist pull out my teeth,” she laughs. “I would just want to see what they were doing; I thought it was really cool.” Now entering her final year as a nutrition science major at UC Davis, Elaine has a clearer sense of her aspirations, and she has already logged countless hours to make them a reality. Although the path to a medical career can seem long and exhausting, Elaine insists that sleepless nights are rewarding when she’s working to improve patients’ lives.

Why Nutrition Matters (For Everyone)

While Elaine was clearly never squeamish about medical procedures, she remembers focusing her attention on nutrition during the weeks before her junior prom. Like many high schoolers, she awaited the night with mixed emotions, worrying about how she would look for the much-hyped  event. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, I want to look cute….’ That’s when I discovered that there’s a lot that goes into nutrition.”

From her early research, Elaine noticed that health and appearance were not as connected as the media suggested.  “The way people view health and beauty is very distorted,” she says.  “Everybody thinks that to be beautiful you have to be skinny, and that to be skinny means you’re healthy—but that’s not it. That’s one reason I got into nutrition in the first place, because I really wanted to change that.” So when she transferred to UC Davis in 2016 (originally as a clinical nutrition major) she set out to learn more about the human body in order to spread honest information about health.

“After I came to Davis, I realized that nutrition is a lot more than carbs and fats; there’s so much science involved,” she says. “You never really realize what happens inside of yourself, but our bodies are so smart in how they maintain the temperature, regulations, pH levels, everything.  As she discovered more about the medical field, she decided that she wanted to help patients with more than their diets—she wanted to become a physician’s assistant (PA). With this job title, she could help patients with everything from discussing nutrition to diagnosing illnesses.

Starting the Path to PA School

With newly realized career goals to motivate her, Elaine jumped into the organized chaos of the medical world. “When you apply for PA school they want you to have a lot of patient care hours,” she explains. So, on top of her classwork and job, Elaine dedicated twelve hours a week to an intensive four-month Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course that taught her how to save lives. While she stresses that EMTs can “only” help with “simpler stuff” like taking vitals or administering epinephrine and albuterol (paramedics do the rest), she casually adds that her job is to keep patients alive after they encounter any number of medical emergencies.

While some would find the high-stakes work stressful, Elaine never has: “It was really fun!” she insists. In fact, rather than shying away from the chaotic ER during clinical rotations, she found it to be one of the job’s most rewarding aspects. “I love the hecticness,” she says. “TV portrays the ER as always hectic and super loud but in reality…it’s super organized and everybody has their own role. You still feel calm. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do; it’s not like Grey’s Anatomy where they’re shouting over each other.”

When she was able to shadow an open-heart surgery, Elaine knew that she was headed toward the right career. “It was so amazing, like ‘oh my god, there’s a heart right by me, and an open chest cavity, and I’m here, and I can see the surgeon saving [the patient’s] life,’” she gushes. “I thought, ‘one day I could do this—this could be me.’”

Stress, Sleep and Support Systems

Working a dream job isn’t always easy, however. For Elaine’s last year in Davis, the 21-year-old anticipates completing her degree, volunteering at Sutter Health, working as an EMT and continuing her barista job to pay for the any free time that she can carve out for herself.  Reflecting on her most recent quarter at Davis, Elaine says, “I honestly don’t know how I did it.” She remembers spending each Sunday—traditionally a “day of rest”—waking up early for EMT labs that ran from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., then rushing to her job to work until 10:30 at night. “Basically I didn’t have a Sunday,” she summarizes. “I guess that’s why I had a really weird sleeping schedule…I’d go to bed at 3:00 a.m. every day.”

Now with fall quarter approaching (along with its overloaded days), Elaine shares with her peers lessons that she has learned the hard way: “You need a good support system, as cheesy as that sounds,” she advises. “Remember to sleep. Remember to have fun. Give yourself one day out of the week where you don’t have any other obligations…when you don’t have to worry about running around or trying to fit everything in your schedule.”

In the meantime, however, she is searching for clinical research opportunities—another task to add to her schedule. But even with so much to juggle, Elaine remains excited and optimistic for what her future—and the future of medicine—holds. “With clinical research, you get to see firsthand how something can affect someone,” she says. “That’s the amazing thing about medicine: it’s constantly changing, and we’re constantly working at how to improve someone’s life. I think that’s really incredible.”


Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office.

What Are Aggies Up to? Elaine How Is Learning to Save Lives

July 31, 2018 - 2:47pm
Emma Hoppough

Elaine How didn’t grow up knowing that she wanted to become a physician’s assistant, but she had a few good hints along the way. “Whenever I had tooth extractions I would hold a mirror and watch the dentist pull out my teeth,” she laughs. “I would just want to see what they were doing; I thought it was really cool.” Now entering her final year as a nutrition science major at UC Davis, Elaine has a clearer sense of her aspirations, and she has already logged countless hours to make them a reality. Although the path to a medical career can seem long and exhausting, Elaine insists that sleepless nights are rewarding when she’s working to improve patients’ lives.

Why Nutrition Matters (For Everyone)

While Elaine was clearly never squeamish about medical procedures, she remembers focusing her attention on nutrition during the weeks before her junior prom. Like many high schoolers, she awaited the night with mixed emotions, worrying about how she would look for the much-hyped  event. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, I want to look cute….’ That’s when I discovered that there’s a lot that goes into nutrition.”

From her early research, Elaine noticed that health and appearance were not as connected as the media suggested.  “The way people view health and beauty is very distorted,” she says.  “Everybody thinks that to be beautiful you have to be skinny, and that to be skinny means you’re healthy—but that’s not it. That’s one reason I got into nutrition in the first place, because I really wanted to change that.” So when she transferred to UC Davis in 2016 (originally as a clinical nutrition major) she set out to learn more about the human body in order to spread honest information about health.

“After I came to Davis, I realized that nutrition is a lot more than carbs and fats; there’s so much science involved,” she says. “You never really realize what happens inside of yourself, but our bodies are so smart in how they maintain the temperature, regulations, pH levels, everything.  As she discovered more about the medical field, she decided that she wanted to help patients with more than their diets—she wanted to become a physician’s assistant (PA). With this job title, she could help patients with everything from discussing nutrition to diagnosing illnesses.

Starting the Path to PA School

With newly realized career goals to motivate her, Elaine jumped into the organized chaos of the medical world. “When you apply for PA school they want you to have a lot of patient care hours,” she explains. So, on top of her classwork and job, Elaine dedicated twelve hours a week to an intensive four-month Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course that taught her how to save lives. While she stresses that EMTs can “only” help with “simpler stuff” like taking vitals or administering epinephrine and albuterol (paramedics do the rest), she casually adds that her job is to keep patients alive after they encounter any number of medical emergencies.

While some would find the high-stakes work stressful, Elaine never has: “It was really fun!” she insists. In fact, rather than shying away from the chaotic ER during clinical rotations, she found it to be one of the job’s most rewarding aspects. “I love the hecticness,” she says. “TV portrays the ER as always hectic and super loud but in reality…it’s super organized and everybody has their own role. You still feel calm. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do; it’s not like Grey’s Anatomy where they’re shouting over each other.”

When she was able to shadow an open-heart surgery, Elaine knew that she was headed toward the right career. “It was so amazing, like ‘oh my god, there’s a heart right by me, and an open chest cavity, and I’m here, and I can see the surgeon saving [the patient’s] life,’” she gushes. “I thought, ‘one day I could do this—this could be me.’”

Stress, Sleep and Support Systems

Working a dream job isn’t always easy, however. For Elaine’s last year in Davis, the 21-year-old anticipates completing her degree, volunteering at Sutter Health, working as an EMT and continuing her barista job to pay for the any free time that she can carve out for herself.  Reflecting on her most recent quarter at Davis, Elaine says, “I honestly don’t know how I did it.” She remembers spending each Sunday—traditionally a “day of rest”—waking up early for EMT labs that ran from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., then rushing to her job to work until 10:30 at night. “Basically I didn’t have a Sunday,” she summarizes. “I guess that’s why I had a really weird sleeping schedule…I’d go to bed at 3:00 a.m. every day.”

Now with fall quarter approaching (along with its overloaded days), Elaine shares with her peers lessons that she has learned the hard way: “You need a good support system, as cheesy as that sounds,” she advises. “Remember to sleep. Remember to have fun. Give yourself one day out of the week where you don’t have any other obligations…when you don’t have to worry about running around or trying to fit everything in your schedule.”

In the meantime, however, she is searching for clinical research opportunities—another task to add to her schedule. But even with so much to juggle, Elaine remains excited and optimistic for what her future—and the future of medicine—holds. “With clinical research, you get to see firsthand how something can affect someone,” she says. “That’s the amazing thing about medicine: it’s constantly changing, and we’re constantly working at how to improve someone’s life. I think that’s really incredible.”


Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office.

Loving the Little Things at UC Davis

July 3, 2018 - 11:56am
Emma Hoppough

Two weeks ago I walked across a stage, grabbed a symbolic piece of paper and sang the UC Davis fight song with hundreds of other students. In other words: I graduated! What a bizarre feeling; it’s hard to fit four years into a few words.

Fortunately, student speaker Anjali Bhat addressed us in a language I can make sense of: pop culture. Crafting her speech around the Greta Gerwig-directed film Lady Bird, Anjali referenced a scene that had stuck with me since I first watched the movie and cheered for Sacramento’s Gerwig alongside other NorCal natives. In the scene, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson denies her college application’s seeming affection for Sacramento. “I guess I pay attention,” she shrugs. But her principal sees something more: “Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing, love and attention?”

As Anjali reminded all of us sitting in the Arc Pavilion, we attend UC Davis because we pay attention: to grades, to social issues, to each other and to the unusual world around us. Now that I’m inching closer to leaving the city of Davis, I’ve absorbed a great deal of small moments that attach me to the campus. And, in the end, a place only exists in the details you hold onto. So, to commemorate my official parting with the university (and my ascension into the “real world”), I’ve compiled a not-so-comprehensive list of some Davis details worth loving.

1. The necessary “No Bike Parking” signs—and the bicyclists who occasionally ignore them. 

2. Olson Hall’s motivational bathroom graffiti, which usually calls for a political uprising of some sort.

3. The groups of people debating whether to recycle, compost or throw away the empty containers in their hands.

4. The professor who ended my Western course by gifting a cowboy hat to the student who wore it best. Similarly, the Children’s Lit TA who fed our class Turkish delight when we read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

5. The CoHo’s unique food names: “fowl salad” and “CoHome-made Hummus,” for starters.

6. The sleeping ducks that dot the campus like feathery loaves of bread in late fall.

7. The DC’s bountiful late night chocolate chip cookies and milk.

8. That cow smell that permeates the evening air until you feel one with the farm animals.

9. The persistent “F” that appears in front of the “Art Building” sign—then gets scrubbed away, then reappears, and so on.

10. The many stray cats that live around Veihmeyer Hall—and the strangers who have built makeshift homes and feeding schedules for them.

11. The MU fountain that rises once every 100 years (or maybe a few times a quarter). Conversely, the Dutton Hall fountain, which dribbles constantly in an almost-unmoving puddle.

12. Tree Bikes—bikes that randomly appear in trees on campus. Did the owner forget a lock? Is there a bold prankster in our midst? We may never know.

13. The distant sound of drums or piano cover songs that can be heard from the grass in the Arboretum.

14. The horse-drawn carriages that stroll by the Quad every now and then.

15. The “fried egg” flowers (matilija poppies) that cook/bloom in the Arboretum. 

16. The bicyclists who flail their arms in the general direction they’re headed (even though most of us had to learn specific hand signals to pass the California driver’s test).

17. The gray squirrels who get fat for winter, skinny for summer and always stare into your soul for food.

18. The ever-materializing Cal Aggie Band-uh!, whose members have energy even when it’s 9 p.m. on a Tuesday and they’re playing outside of the gym for some reason.

19. The moment my thesis advisor reassured me that “slow and steady wins the race” after I sent a panicked midnight email detailing a new outline and apologizing for my slow writing.

20. The hazy, dusty evening light that falls through the trees on campus and makes everything feel like a memory.

Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office.

Loving the Little Things at UC Davis

July 3, 2018 - 11:56am
Emma Hoppough

Two weeks ago I walked across a stage, grabbed a symbolic piece of paper and sang the UC Davis fight song with hundreds of other students. In other words: I graduated! What a bizarre feeling; it’s hard to fit four years into a few words.

Fortunately, student speaker Anjali Bhat addressed us in a language I can make sense of: pop culture. Crafting her speech around the Greta Gerwig-directed film Lady Bird, Anjali referenced a scene that had stuck with me since I first watched the movie and cheered for Sacramento’s Gerwig alongside other NorCal natives. In the scene, Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson denies her college application’s seeming affection for Sacramento. “I guess I pay attention,” she shrugs. But her principal sees something more: “Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing, love and attention?”

As Anjali reminded all of us sitting in the Arc Pavilion, we attend UC Davis because we pay attention: to grades, to social issues, to each other and to the unusual world around us. Now that I’m inching closer to leaving the city of Davis, I’ve absorbed a great deal of small moments that attach me to the campus. And, in the end, a place only exists in the details you hold onto. So, to commemorate my official parting with the university (and my ascension into the “real world”), I’ve compiled a not-so-comprehensive list of some Davis details worth loving.

1. The necessary “No Bike Parking” signs—and the bicyclists who occasionally ignore them. 

2. Olson Hall’s motivational bathroom graffiti, which usually calls for a political uprising of some sort.

3. The groups of people debating whether to recycle, compost or throw away the empty containers in their hands.

4. The professor who ended my Western course by gifting a cowboy hat to the student who wore it best. Similarly, the Children’s Lit TA who fed our class Turkish delight when we read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

5. The CoHo’s unique food names: “fowl salad” and “CoHome-made Hummus,” for starters.

6. The sleeping ducks that dot the campus like feathery loaves of bread in late fall.

7. The DC’s bountiful late night chocolate chip cookies and milk.

8. That cow smell that permeates the evening air until you feel one with the farm animals.

9. The persistent “F” that appears in front of the “Art Building” sign—then gets scrubbed away, then reappears, and so on.

10. The many stray cats that live around Veihmeyer Hall—and the strangers who have built makeshift homes and feeding schedules for them.

11. The MU fountain that rises once every 100 years (or maybe a few times a quarter). Conversely, the Dutton Hall fountain, which dribbles constantly in an almost-unmoving puddle.

12. Tree Bikes—bikes that randomly appear in trees on campus. Did the owner forget a lock? Is there a bold prankster in our midst? We may never know.

13. The distant sound of drums or piano cover songs that can be heard from the grass in the Arboretum.

14. The horse-drawn carriages that stroll by the Quad every now and then.

15. The “fried egg” flowers (matilija poppies) that cook/bloom in the Arboretum. 

16. The bicyclists who flail their arms in the general direction they’re headed (even though most of us had to learn specific hand signals to pass the California driver’s test).

17. The gray squirrels who get fat for winter, skinny for summer and always stare into your soul for food.

18. The ever-materializing Cal Aggie Band-uh!, whose members have energy even when it’s 9 p.m. on a Tuesday and they’re playing outside of the gym for some reason.

19. The moment my thesis advisor reassured me that “slow and steady wins the race” after I sent a panicked midnight email detailing a new outline and apologizing for my slow writing.

20. The hazy, dusty evening light that falls through the trees on campus and makes everything feel like a memory.

Emma Hoppough is a recent UC Davis alumna. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office.

Research Starts Here

June 1, 2018 - 1:36pm
Learning Across Disciplines with the UC Davis Undergraduate Research Conference
Emma Hoppough

During the last weekend of April, more than 700 UC Davis students eagerly journeyed back to campus to present at the 29th Annual Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference. For those students, the event represented up to a year of hard work: everyone who presented had spent the last few months working closely with UC Davis faculty to propose projects, conduct research, draft abstracts and prepare their findings for the rest of campus.

Longtime attendees might might have noticed a more diverse crowd in recent years, as well. In 2012, UC Davis established the first arts and design exhibit to join the conference’s poster and oral sessions, increasing the intellectual engagement that the conference hopes to foster. As the conference audience and scope continues to grow, it has become a destination for undergraduates looking to take full advantage of their time at a research university.

To learn more about the conference experience, I spoke to two groups of students researchers whose work illustrates the university’s celebration of scholarship, passion and creativity.

Photo courtesy of: Nicole Sullivan

PRIYANKA SANGHAVI: “Development of Optimism Across the Lifespan”

The Research

Priyanka, now a third year at Davis, began her research project more than a year ago. While the project has grown considerably, Priyanka claims that the research began with a simple idea: an “infant-level interest” in the broader topic of optimism. “A lot of psychology research is really focused on things like anxiety, depression, substance abuse…I wanted to focus on something more positive,” she explains.

To satisfy this intellectual craving, Priyanka paired up with Dr. Richard Robins, who was already involved in a long-term data collection effort.  “A ton of different surveys were administered to these families…There was already a lot we could do with it,” Priyanka says. And fortunately, some of the data already aligned with her interests: “One survey is a questionnaire about optimism. It has [statements] like ‘if anything can go wrong for me, it will.’ You rank how much you agree.” This was just the data Priyanka needed for her research—and with her professor’s help, her project “Development of Optimism Across the Lifespan,” was born.

So what did Priyanka and her faculty advisor discover after analyzing this mountain of data? After her experience presenting at the conference, Priyanka summarizes the results succinctly: “We found that optimism increases until about age 53, then afterwards it starts to decline. Positive life events seem to have more of an effect on the development of optimism than negative events do.” In other words, positive events appeared to benefit research participants’ optimism more than negative events harmed them. Although Priyanka cautions—like any researcher should—that her team can’t make causal claims from their data, the results provide fascinating implications nonetheless. “Optimism has been pretty clearly shown to have a lot of health benefits,” Priyanka explains. Therefore, “If optimism research can in any way inform the way we help people, especially elderly people, cope with some of the health problems that they have because of aging, then we’re contributing to that in some way, shape, or form.”

The Conference

While Priyanka could have continued to work behind-the-scenes as a student researcher, she chose instead to present at the Undergraduate Research Conference and explore topics with like-minded people while contributing some empathy to the science field. “The conference here is just such a great event,” she says. “It really celebrates intellectual activity.” Additionally, as a third-year pursuing a career in the sciences, “it’s a really natural next step when you are an undergraduate researcher at UC Davis.”

While some researchers might find it difficult to discuss specialized topics with the diverse conference crowd, Priyanka enjoyed the challenge.  Although her findings came from statistical methods beyond the scope of what most undergraduates know, she was responsible for describing that process to others nonetheless. Armed with a poster to illustrate her project, she developed multiple ways to describe her research depending on her audience. Her advice? “You need to get inside the mind of someone who is smart and curious but who does not know about very much about your subject.” For this reason, “empathy is super important in science communication”—and a scientific focus on empathy is definitely something to be optimistic about.

ELLE LUO AND YI LUO: “Virtual Reality And Scent For Treating Stress”

The Research

“Design has a lot of possibilities,” states Elle Luo. Her Undergraduate Research Conference project, “Virtual Reality And Scent For Treating Stress,” suggests design’s many applications through its title alone.  The fourth year design major had not realized how far she could stretch her design skills until coming to UC Davis, however. “Before entering UC Davis I never had coding experience,” she explains. “I took my first coding class here and thought ‘oh my god, this is fascinating!’” Pursuing her growing interest in coding, Elle soon set her sights on creating a virtual reality (VR) experience to combine her interests and demonstrate design’s interdisciplinary potential. When she discovered the Undergraduate Research Conference, she found the incentive she needed to make her ideas a reality.  “This chance to present at this conference motivated me. I wanted to work hard for other audiences.”

To begin her project, Elle teamed up with Professor Katia Canepa Vega (her faculty advisor) and Yi Luo (a fellow design major and third-year student at UC Davis). In the beginning, Elle and Yi only knew that they wanted to make a VR space for users to experience—but when their professor suggested that they combine another sensation into that experience, their ideas bloomed. “Yi thought, ‘what if we make it a flower garden?’” Elle remembers. When they researched flowers and discovered that lavender has de-stressing properties, they knew that this would be the center of their project. After lots of planning, coding, designing and testing, it was ready to present.

To experience Elle and Yi’s VR scenario, users download an application on their phone that allows them to see the 360-degree scene that the researchers created: a geometric, abstract flower garden filled with purples and greens. As users move their phones, the view on the screen moves to correspond with the phone’s position. The experience becomes fully immersive, however, with the calming lavender scent that immediately fills the air when the program starts, thanks to code that activates a scent diffuser. While Elle and Yi’s project does not produce ”findings” in the same way that a scientific study would, the student researchers are happy to have created an entirely new experience for different audiences to interact with.

The Conference

With the relatively new conference space dedicated to art and design, Elle and Yi were able to present the full virtual experience that they had created. While Yi still designed a poster to accompany and explain their work, the creative space allowed them to move beyond two-dimensional explanations and allow people to interact with their design firsthand. “From my perspective, if it’s only a poster, I can’t showcase my actual project experience to my users,” says Elle.

Furthermore, the exhibit allows audiences to understand the scope of both art and design in general. “I think people confuse fine art and design, but there’s a big difference.” Elle states. “Design is more focused on the functionality and experience of the user—it’s more objective.” And Yi agrees, saying that the conference’s representation of creative arts and sciences allows audiences to engage in a shared experience; in fact, Yi hopes that the conference will dedicate even more space to the arts in the coming years.

Although both designers felt justifiably exhausted after three hours of presenting (“It was my first time talking to so many people,” laughs Yi) they smile as they discuss the experience. “I got to see a lot of people who were interested in our project and wanted to learn more about the technology we used—I think it’s really cool,” explains Elle. “When they experience my VR scenario and go ‘oh, wow!’ I feel very satisfied.” And the conference was just the beginning: on May 20, the project (and Elle) travelled to the 2018 Maker Faire in San Mateo to share the experience with thousands of new users. For any other students interested in following a similar path, Yi offers advice that is short and sweet: “just do it.”

Emma Hoppough is a fourth-year English major at UC Davis. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office. 

Research Starts Here

June 1, 2018 - 1:36pm
Learning Across Disciplines with the UC Davis Undergraduate Research Conference
Emma Hoppough

During the last weekend of April, more than 700 UC Davis students eagerly journeyed back to campus to present at the 29th Annual Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference. For those students, the event represented up to a year of hard work: everyone who presented had spent the last few months working closely with UC Davis faculty to propose projects, conduct research, draft abstracts and prepare their findings for the rest of campus.

Longtime attendees might might have noticed a more diverse crowd in recent years, as well. In 2012, UC Davis established the first arts and design exhibit to join the conference’s poster and oral sessions, increasing the intellectual engagement that the conference hopes to foster. As the conference audience and scope continues to grow, it has become a destination for undergraduates looking to take full advantage of their time at a research university.

To learn more about the conference experience, I spoke to two groups of students researchers whose work illustrates the university’s celebration of scholarship, passion and creativity.

Photo courtesy of: Nicole Sullivan

PRIYANKA SANGHAVI: “Development of Optimism Across the Lifespan”

The Research

Priyanka, now a third year at Davis, began her research project more than a year ago. While the project has grown considerably, Priyanka claims that the research began with a simple idea: an “infant-level interest” in the broader topic of optimism. “A lot of psychology research is really focused on things like anxiety, depression, substance abuse…I wanted to focus on something more positive,” she explains.

To satisfy this intellectual craving, Priyanka paired up with Dr. Richard Robins, who was already involved in a long-term data collection effort.  “A ton of different surveys were administered to these families…There was already a lot we could do with it,” Priyanka says. And fortunately, some of the data already aligned with her interests: “One survey is a questionnaire about optimism. It has [statements] like ‘if anything can go wrong for me, it will.’ You rank how much you agree.” This was just the data Priyanka needed for her research—and with her professor’s help, her project “Development of Optimism Across the Lifespan,” was born.

So what did Priyanka and her faculty advisor discover after analyzing this mountain of data? After her experience presenting at the conference, Priyanka summarizes the results succinctly: “We found that optimism increases until about age 53, then afterwards it starts to decline. Positive life events seem to have more of an effect on the development of optimism than negative events do.” In other words, positive events appeared to benefit research participants’ optimism more than negative events harmed them. Although Priyanka cautions—like any researcher should—that her team can’t make causal claims from their data, the results provide fascinating implications nonetheless. “Optimism has been pretty clearly shown to have a lot of health benefits,” Priyanka explains. Therefore, “If optimism research can in any way inform the way we help people, especially elderly people, cope with some of the health problems that they have because of aging, then we’re contributing to that in some way, shape, or form.”

The Conference

While Priyanka could have continued to work behind-the-scenes as a student researcher, she chose instead to present at the Undergraduate Research Conference and explore topics with like-minded people while contributing some empathy to the science field. “The conference here is just such a great event,” she says. “It really celebrates intellectual activity.” Additionally, as a third-year pursuing a career in the sciences, “it’s a really natural next step when you are an undergraduate researcher at UC Davis.”

While some researchers might find it difficult to discuss specialized topics with the diverse conference crowd, Priyanka enjoyed the challenge.  Although her findings came from statistical methods beyond the scope of what most undergraduates know, she was responsible for describing that process to others nonetheless. Armed with a poster to illustrate her project, she developed multiple ways to describe her research depending on her audience. Her advice? “You need to get inside the mind of someone who is smart and curious but who does not know about very much about your subject.” For this reason, “empathy is super important in science communication”—and a scientific focus on empathy is definitely something to be optimistic about.

ELLE LUO AND YI LUO: “Virtual Reality And Scent For Treating Stress”

The Research

“Design has a lot of possibilities,” states Elle Luo. Her Undergraduate Research Conference project, “Virtual Reality And Scent For Treating Stress,” suggests design’s many applications through its title alone.  The fourth year design major had not realized how far she could stretch her design skills until coming to UC Davis, however. “Before entering UC Davis I never had coding experience,” she explains. “I took my first coding class here and thought ‘oh my god, this is fascinating!’” Pursuing her growing interest in coding, Elle soon set her sights on creating a virtual reality (VR) experience to combine her interests and demonstrate design’s interdisciplinary potential. When she discovered the Undergraduate Research Conference, she found the incentive she needed to make her ideas a reality.  “This chance to present at this conference motivated me. I wanted to work hard for other audiences.”

To begin her project, Elle teamed up with Professor Katia Canepa Vega (her faculty advisor) and Yi Luo (a fellow design major and third-year student at UC Davis). In the beginning, Elle and Yi only knew that they wanted to make a VR space for users to experience—but when their professor suggested that they combine another sensation into that experience, their ideas bloomed. “Yi thought, ‘what if we make it a flower garden?’” Elle remembers. When they researched flowers and discovered that lavender has de-stressing properties, they knew that this would be the center of their project. After lots of planning, coding, designing and testing, it was ready to present.

To experience Elle and Yi’s VR scenario, users download an application on their phone that allows them to see the 360-degree scene that the researchers created: a geometric, abstract flower garden filled with purples and greens. As users move their phones, the view on the screen moves to correspond with the phone’s position. The experience becomes fully immersive, however, with the calming lavender scent that immediately fills the air when the program starts, thanks to code that activates a scent diffuser. While Elle and Yi’s project does not produce ”findings” in the same way that a scientific study would, the student researchers are happy to have created an entirely new experience for different audiences to interact with.

The Conference

With the relatively new conference space dedicated to art and design, Elle and Yi were able to present the full virtual experience that they had created. While Yi still designed a poster to accompany and explain their work, the creative space allowed them to move beyond two-dimensional explanations and allow people to interact with their design firsthand. “From my perspective, if it’s only a poster, I can’t showcase my actual project experience to my users,” says Elle.

Furthermore, the exhibit allows audiences to understand the scope of both art and design in general. “I think people confuse fine art and design, but there’s a big difference.” Elle states. “Design is more focused on the functionality and experience of the user—it’s more objective.” And Yi agrees, saying that the conference’s representation of creative arts and sciences allows audiences to engage in a shared experience; in fact, Yi hopes that the conference will dedicate even more space to the arts in the coming years.

Although both designers felt justifiably exhausted after three hours of presenting (“It was my first time talking to so many people,” laughs Yi) they smile as they discuss the experience. “I got to see a lot of people who were interested in our project and wanted to learn more about the technology we used—I think it’s really cool,” explains Elle. “When they experience my VR scenario and go ‘oh, wow!’ I feel very satisfied.” And the conference was just the beginning: on May 20, the project (and Elle) travelled to the 2018 Maker Faire in San Mateo to share the experience with thousands of new users. For any other students interested in following a similar path, Yi offers advice that is short and sweet: “just do it.”

Emma Hoppough is a fourth-year English major at UC Davis. When she’s not writing or painting, she’s probably planning a picnic or rewatching episodes of The Office. 

The Ultimate Day in Davis

April 26, 2018 - 9:40pm

It’s spring quarter at UC Davis: flowers are blooming, students are tanning and high school seniors are touring campus in increasingly large packs. In honor of all the future Aggies out there, I’ve made this 12-hour guide to take you through some of the best—and most Davis-y—activities the city has to offer. Enjoy!

MORNING

  • 9:00 AM: Start your day the Davis way: on a bike! Your journey begins in North Davis, where you are nestled inside a hub of college apartments. No need to worry about distance; nothing in town is more than a 20-minute ride away.
  • 9:10 AM: Ready to feel small? Ride over to “The Dominoes” (also known by their official title, Domino Effect II). These larger-than-life sculptures stand inside one of city’s many public parks, and they’re always good for a quick photo op.
  • 9:45 AM: Head downtown to wake up with some local flavor. Coffee shop favorites include Cloud Forest Cafe (if you like your lattes with a side of panini), Temple Coffee Roasters (if you like a modern aesthetic and lots of laptops) and Mishka’s (if you like conversations and bustling, jazzy vibes).
  • 10:30 AM: See some art while you’re here! Plenty of sculptures and murals populate downtown Davis, and many hide in plain sight. You’re sure to spot some as you wander, but for more directed viewing you can move through the self-guided Davis Art Walk.
  • 11:30 AM: Check out one of Davis’ quirkier landmarks: Toad Hollow. This small tunnel was constructed in 1995 to guide wandering toads away from from the highway. Since then, it has inspired children’s books like The Toads of Davis and was visited by a young Stephen Colbert as part of a Daily Show segment. And if potential toad sightings aren’t enough, you can always go dogspotting at Toad Hollow Dog Park.
  • 12:00 PM: Grab a piece of cardboard and make your way to Slide Hill Park to visit—you guessed it—Slide Hill. The attraction is less of a “slide” than it is a steep, smooth mountain of concrete, but zooming down on a makeshift seat really gets the adrenaline pumping. This activity is not for the faint of heart.

AFTERNOON

  • 12:30 PM: You deserve a treat after all that biking—have some boba as a refresher. You can find milk tea in nearly every corner of Davis. Some local favorites include MandRo Teahouse and Teabo, but today you might as well return downtown to stop at other top picks like T4 or Lazi Cow (just to name a few).
  • 1:00 PM: What’s a trip to Davis without a walk through the Arboretum? Head toward campus to journey through up to 100 acres of bright flowers, redwood trees and desert landscapes—all interwoven with the university. If it’s mid-spring, you might also spot a large group of ducklings on the water!
  • 2:00 PM: If those natural colors and textures left you wanting more, you can bike to the south part of campus to visit the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. The museum may be new to Davis, but it has already had a big impact on the town. Even if art isn’t your “thing,” you’ll want to see this museum just to admire its architecture—and to hit the giant gong that sits outside.
  • 3:00 PM: You’ll probably smell the cows before you see the cows, but when you get the chance you should probably pet the cows, too. Our bovine friends live across from the Tercero Residence Halls, and they love visitors.
  • 3:30 PM: Head five minutes northwest to spot the Baggins End Domes, a cooperative campus community that dates back to the seventies. You’ll see chickens, gardens, and sculptures around this property (but you won’t find many corners).
  • 4:00 PM: Take a break on one of the famous blue hammocks bordering the UC Davis quad. You might have to fight another sleepy student to grab a spot, but it’s worth it in the end.

EVENING

  • 5:00 PM: Time to visit the Wednesday Farmers Market to try some samples, listen to live music and people-watch to your heart’s content. (This is also your opportunity to purchase the iconic Farmers Market hat that seemingly everyone in town owns.)
  • 6:00 PM: Still hungry? Move across the street to Burgers & Brew for gourmet burgers and curly fries or go to Redrum Burger for exotic twists like the ostrich burger. If you’d rather go vegetarian, Thai Canteen is just one many downtown restaurants that’s got you covered.
  • 7:00 PM: You might want to digest all that food. Walk to Varsity Theater to see a new independent movie inside the Art Deco-inspired building.
  • 9:00 PM: You don’t have to leave Varsity to get a post-movie treat—peek directly into Icekrimski Cafe for pistachio gelato or blackberry cabarnet sorbetto. If you want to go elsewhere for frozen treats, you can explore The Good Scoop and Davis Creamery for other rotating ice cream flavors
  • 9:30 PM: Take yourself and your ice cream to the top of the Pavilion parking structure or the Social Sciences Building (affectionately nicknamed the “Death Star”) to look out across campus and stargaze after the sun sets. What a day it’s been.

The Ultimate Day in Davis

April 26, 2018 - 9:40pm

It’s spring quarter at UC Davis: flowers are blooming, students are tanning and high school seniors are touring campus in increasingly large packs. In honor of all the future Aggies out there, I’ve made this 12-hour guide to take you through some of the best—and most Davis-y—activities the city has to offer. Enjoy!

MORNING

  • 9:00 AM: Start your day the Davis way: on a bike! Your journey begins in North Davis, where you are nestled inside a hub of college apartments. No need to worry about distance; nothing in town is more than a 20-minute ride away.
  • 9:10 AM: Ready to feel small? Ride over to “The Dominoes” (also known by their official title, Domino Effect II). These larger-than-life sculptures stand inside one of city’s many public parks, and they’re always good for a quick photo op.
  • 9:45 AM: Head downtown to wake up with some local flavor. Coffee shop favorites include Cloud Forest Cafe (if you like your lattes with a side of panini), Temple Coffee Roasters (if you like a modern aesthetic and lots of laptops) and Mishka’s (if you like conversations and bustling, jazzy vibes).
  • 10:30 AM: See some art while you’re here! Plenty of sculptures and murals populate downtown Davis, and many hide in plain sight. You’re sure to spot some as you wander, but for more directed viewing you can move through the self-guided Davis Art Walk.
  • 11:30 AM: Check out one of Davis’ quirkier landmarks: Toad Hollow. This small tunnel was constructed in 1995 to guide wandering toads away from from the highway. Since then, it has inspired children’s books like The Toads of Davis and was visited by a young Stephen Colbert as part of a Daily Show segment. And if potential toad sightings aren’t enough, you can always go dogspotting at Toad Hollow Dog Park.
  • 12:00 PM: Grab a piece of cardboard and make your way to Slide Hill Park to visit—you guessed it—Slide Hill. The attraction is less of a “slide” than it is a steep, smooth mountain of concrete, but zooming down on a makeshift seat really gets the adrenaline pumping. This activity is not for the faint of heart.

AFTERNOON

  • 12:30 PM: You deserve a treat after all that biking—have some boba as a refresher. You can find milk tea in nearly every corner of Davis. Some local favorites include MandRo Teahouse and Teabo, but today you might as well return downtown to stop at other top picks like T4 or Lazi Cow (just to name a few).
  • 1:00 PM: What’s a trip to Davis without a walk through the Arboretum? Head toward campus to journey through up to 100 acres of bright flowers, redwood trees and desert landscapes—all interwoven with the university. If it’s mid-spring, you might also spot a large group of ducklings on the water!
  • 2:00 PM: If those natural colors and textures left you wanting more, you can bike to the south part of campus to visit the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. The museum may be new to Davis, but it has already had a big impact on the town. Even if art isn’t your “thing,” you’ll want to see this museum just to admire its architecture—and to hit the giant gong that sits outside.
  • 3:00 PM: You’ll probably smell the cows before you see the cows, but when you get the chance you should probably pet the cows, too. Our bovine friends live across from the Tercero Residence Halls, and they love visitors.
  • 3:30 PM: Head five minutes northwest to spot the Baggins End Domes, a cooperative campus community that dates back to the seventies. You’ll see chickens, gardens, and sculptures around this property (but you won’t find many corners).
  • 4:00 PM: Take a break on one of the famous blue hammocks bordering the UC Davis quad. You might have to fight another sleepy student to grab a spot, but it’s worth it in the end.

EVENING

  • 5:00 PM: Time to visit the Wednesday Farmers Market to try some samples, listen to live music and people-watch to your heart’s content. (This is also your opportunity to purchase the iconic Farmers Market hat that seemingly everyone in town owns.)
  • 6:00 PM: Still hungry? Move across the street to Burgers & Brew for gourmet burgers and curly fries or go to Redrum Burger for exotic twists like the ostrich burger. If you’d rather go vegetarian, Thai Canteen is just one many downtown restaurants that’s got you covered.
  • 7:00 PM: You might want to digest all that food. Walk to Varsity Theater to see a new independent movie inside the Art Deco-inspired building.
  • 9:00 PM: You don’t have to leave Varsity to get a post-movie treat—peek directly into Icekrimski Cafe for pistachio gelato or blackberry cabarnet sorbetto. If you want to go elsewhere for frozen treats, you can explore The Good Scoop and Davis Creamery for other rotating ice cream flavors
  • 9:30 PM: Take yourself and your ice cream to the top of the Pavilion parking structure or the Social Sciences Building (affectionately nicknamed the “Death Star”) to look out across campus and stargaze after the sun sets. What a day it’s been.

When Stress is More Than Stressful – A Student’s Experience with Anxiety on Campus

February 13, 2018 - 12:57pm
Emma Hoppough

College life can be demanding for anyone—and for students struggling with mental health, that pressure can feel debilitating. Mental illness runs through campuses across the nation: the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 75 percent of people with mental illness experience it by their mid-twenties, and in 2015, anxiety surpassed depression as the most common disorder among college students. So why do students like Lisette Villa, a fourth-year economics major at UC Davis, often misattribute their symptoms of anxiety to “typical” college overload? “We’re at a research university—everyone is stressed,” Lisette recalls reasoning. “I thought, ‘what you’re feeling is normal.’” Attempting to cope with her anxiety alone, the 22-year-old nearly reached a breaking point. Now she wants others to know that asking for help is okay, and that struggle is not defeat. As a student panelist for the UC Davis Mental Health Conference in January, Lisette spoke openly about the realities of mental health to demonstrate that “anxiety” is not a dirty word.

The student-led Mental Health Conference, established just one year ago, fills a weekend with workshops, panels and performances to destigmatize mental health and raise awareness across campus. Lisette applied to be a panelist after working through her own difficulties expressing her anxiety. Newly armed with family support and therapy-endorsed coping strategies, she decided it was time to share what she had learned. “When you have something like this going on…you don’t know how to react to it, how to deal with it, who to talk to. I wanted to share  my story,” she explains. And students were eager to listen: attendees filled every chair during Lisette’s panel and had purchased every conference ticket weeks before the two-day event. With this popularity, conference organizers have made efforts to represent and support individuals across all communities: the program states that “it is our responsibility…to sow the seeds of empowerment all around us”—in other words, to let no one struggle alone.

Unfortunately, Lisette (like many students in her position) had felt isolated in her daily battle with mental health. “I wasn’t talking about my anxiety, so I was still closed off and dealing with it on my own,” she remembers. After transferring to Davis last year, the Hollister native’s stress only increased as she navigated a new town, a new school, and new friends while living far from her support system. By winter quarter, Lisette was “waking up every day like a zombie, going to class, coming home and sleeping for four hours.” Her personal coping mechanisms grew less effective each week, and eventually she questioned whether she belonged at UC Davis at all.

One day everything changed: confronted with a difficult choice—to move back home or to acknowledge her silent fight against anxiety—Lisette called her parents and spoke openly about her mental health for the first time. Her parents recognized her strength as well as her struggle, and with their encouragement, Lisette sought help at the university. By spring quarter, she knew she was in a better place.

That’s not to say one therapy session will solve mental illness—or that a “solution” exists at all. Just like physical health, mental health requires hard work and patience. For Lisette, this maintenance involves yoga classes, self-reaffirmations, and scheduled time to detach from schoolwork. And for anybody, managing mental health requires a willingness to acknowledge and accept ups and downs as they come. “I’ll still have days where my anxiety will be super high and I won’t want to talk to people, or even leave my apartment,” says Lisette, “but I’ll have to overcome it and get stuff done.” Now that Lisette has been honest with herself and others, her anxiety is no longer the stifling force it once was. Although it’s a part of her, she refuses to let it dictate her life.

As the soon-to-be-graduate has come to understand her personal mental health journey, she has helped others acknowledge their own. When it comes to mental illness, Lisette asserts, “we know it happens, but we don’t speak about it.” By participating in the Mental Health Conference, however, she joined hundreds of others in unravelling the taboo that has surrounded this topic for decades.


If you or a friend are struggling with mental health on campus, you can use the following resources:

Emma Hoppough is a fourth-year English major at UC Davis. When she’s not studying literature, she attends classes in studio art and professional writing.

When Stress is More Than Stressful – A Student’s Experience with Anxiety on Campus

February 13, 2018 - 12:57pm
Emma Hoppough

College life can be demanding for anyone—and for students struggling with mental health, that pressure can feel debilitating. Mental illness runs through campuses across the nation: the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 75 percent of people with mental illness experience it by their mid-twenties, and in 2015, anxiety surpassed depression as the most common disorder among college students. So why do students like Lisette Villa, a fourth-year economics major at UC Davis, often misattribute their symptoms of anxiety to “typical” college overload? “We’re at a research university—everyone is stressed,” Lisette recalls reasoning. “I thought, ‘what you’re feeling is normal.’” Attempting to cope with her anxiety alone, the 22-year-old nearly reached a breaking point. Now she wants others to know that asking for help is okay, and that struggle is not defeat. As a student panelist for the UC Davis Mental Health Conference in January, Lisette spoke openly about the realities of mental health to demonstrate that “anxiety” is not a dirty word.

The student-led Mental Health Conference, established just one year ago, fills a weekend with workshops, panels and performances to destigmatize mental health and raise awareness across campus. Lisette applied to be a panelist after working through her own difficulties expressing her anxiety. Newly armed with family support and therapy-endorsed coping strategies, she decided it was time to share what she had learned. “When you have something like this going on…you don’t know how to react to it, how to deal with it, who to talk to. I wanted to share  my story,” she explains. And students were eager to listen: attendees filled every chair during Lisette’s panel and had purchased every conference ticket weeks before the two-day event. With this popularity, conference organizers have made efforts to represent and support individuals across all communities: the program states that “it is our responsibility…to sow the seeds of empowerment all around us”—in other words, to let no one struggle alone.

Unfortunately, Lisette (like many students in her position) had felt isolated in her daily battle with mental health. “I wasn’t talking about my anxiety, so I was still closed off and dealing with it on my own,” she remembers. After transferring to Davis last year, the Hollister native’s stress only increased as she navigated a new town, a new school, and new friends while living far from her support system. By winter quarter, Lisette was “waking up every day like a zombie, going to class, coming home and sleeping for four hours.” Her personal coping mechanisms grew less effective each week, and eventually she questioned whether she belonged at UC Davis at all.

One day everything changed: confronted with a difficult choice—to move back home or to acknowledge her silent fight against anxiety—Lisette called her parents and spoke openly about her mental health for the first time. Her parents recognized her strength as well as her struggle, and with their encouragement, Lisette sought help at the university. By spring quarter, she knew she was in a better place.

That’s not to say one therapy session will solve mental illness—or that a “solution” exists at all. Just like physical health, mental health requires hard work and patience. For Lisette, this maintenance involves yoga classes, self-reaffirmations, and scheduled time to detach from schoolwork. And for anybody, managing mental health requires a willingness to acknowledge and accept ups and downs as they come. “I’ll still have days where my anxiety will be super high and I won’t want to talk to people, or even leave my apartment,” says Lisette, “but I’ll have to overcome it and get stuff done.” Now that Lisette has been honest with herself and others, her anxiety is no longer the stifling force it once was. Although it’s a part of her, she refuses to let it dictate her life.

As the soon-to-be-graduate has come to understand her personal mental health journey, she has helped others acknowledge their own. When it comes to mental illness, Lisette asserts, “we know it happens, but we don’t speak about it.” By participating in the Mental Health Conference, however, she joined hundreds of others in unravelling the taboo that has surrounded this topic for decades.

To learn more about the status of mental health and counseling at UC Davis, you can attend the upcoming Mental Health Town Hall at the ARC Ballroom on February 13, 2018. Information about the event can be found here.

If you or a friend are struggling with mental health on campus, you can use the following resources:

Emma Hoppough is a fourth-year English major at UC Davis. When she’s not studying literature, she attends classes in studio art and professional writing.

Building Yourself Up When Job Hunting Gets You Down

December 8, 2017 - 1:06pm
Writing and Artwork by UC Davis Alumna Lily Troup

(content warning: depression)

“Postgraduate Depression” should be a senior seminar course, because job hunting after college made me feel like I was already having a midlife crisis.  

To be clear, I didn’t take my time at university for granted: I worked part time, studied hard to maintain my GPA, and even interned in the capital through the UC Davis Washington Program. I knew from the start that a career would not wait patiently for my graduation; I had understood the “impracticality” and uncertainty of my studio art degree when I declared my major.

Although I accepted this “fate,” I often wondered if I had made the right decision (a feeling I imagine all students have felt at one point or another). Every post-interview rejection, every automated “we cannot offer you a position” email, and every unanswered job application felt like a hit to my mental stamina. The truth is, job hunting is full-time work—but because I no longer had a daily routine like I did throughout university, I needed to create my own structure. This realization helped me refocus, and although the journey hasn’t been easy, I know that I’m moving forward once more.

Fighting Self-Sabotage

When the Job Search Train first left the platform, I had no routine, no income, and I felt like I had lost my purpose. I was constantly disappointed in myself for feeling as though I had let my family and friends down. For every rejection, I believed that I was unworthy of becoming a productive member of society. Furthermore, I grew angry with myself because I felt that I had no right to complain. I recognized my depression made me feel more selfish, and I didn’t want to be that way. My mind went to some dark places.

Better Days

Thankfully, I also have days where I don’t want to melt into bed and stare at the ceiling. I realized I needed to utilize every good day and be as productive as possible. I reached out to old professors, friends, even friends’ parents to ask them if they knew of any job or volunteer opportunities. One of my weaknesses is wanting to take on everything by myself. However, I have learned that people genuinely want to help.

That help can come from surprising places: after pushing myself to keep going, I found a volunteer opportunity through a friend, and I received encouraging advice from a woman I work for who, was also an art major in college. I continued to do my own research and also landed opportunities to share my artwork.

Then, right as I wrote this article, I landed a job at a great independent coffee shop. While coffee is not directly in the art field, I realized it relates to my major because I love to work on my art at cafes while sipping on a nice iced mocha. Coffee shops provide me an environment that fuels my creativity, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to join the world of coffee.

During this process, I had to remember what made me happy: these opportunities, outside of pure job searching, brought a routine back into my life and reminded me that my degree had been working toward something.

Pushing Through

This post is not intended to be a guide on postgraduate careers, but a moment of self-reflection: during my job search I sunk to the bottom, but with the support of friends and family, I picked myself up and kept moving.

Know that if you have ever experienced any of the feelings or situations mentioned, I sympathize. Contrary to what others may say, it’s not wrong to feel like the world is against you or that you’ve given your all to get nothing back; however, it’s also up to the individual to figure out how to combat these feelings and fight for the future they deserve. Remember that our inner demons are not the thoughts of those who care about us the most, and that potential employers don’t know us beyond a resume, a cover letter, or a 30-minute be-all and end-all interview.

So hold onto your hope and keep filling out those applications—because the the more job eggs you have in your basket, the better chance one of them will hatch.

Lily Troup graduated UC Davis in 2017 with a B.A. in Studio Art. While at Davis, she found her love for traditional printmaking and earned an internship for The Washington Printmakers Gallery in Washington, DC. She emphasizes in traditional black and white illustrations of original character art. To learn more about Lily, follow her on Instagram @squidinamasonjar or visit lilytroup.com

“If you or a friend are in a similar chapter of your life, know that you’re not alone,” says Lily.

CAREER RESOURCES:

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES:

Building Yourself Up When Job Hunting Gets You Down

December 8, 2017 - 1:06pm
Writing and Artwork by UC Davis Alumna Lily Troup

(content warning: depression)

“Postgraduate Depression” should be a senior seminar course, because job hunting after college made me feel like I was already having a midlife crisis.  

To be clear, I didn’t take my time at university for granted: I worked part time, studied hard to maintain my GPA, and even interned in the capital through the UC Davis Washington Program. I knew from the start that a career would not wait patiently for my graduation; I had understood the “impracticality” and uncertainty of my studio art degree when I declared my major.

Although I accepted this “fate,” I often wondered if I had made the right decision (a feeling I imagine all students have felt at one point or another). Every post-interview rejection, every automated “we cannot offer you a position” email, and every unanswered job application felt like a hit to my mental stamina. The truth is, job hunting is full-time work—but because I no longer had a daily routine like I did throughout university, I needed to create my own structure. This realization helped me refocus, and although the journey hasn’t been easy, I know that I’m moving forward once more.

Fighting Self-Sabotage

When the Job Search Train first left the platform, I had no routine, no income, and I felt like I had lost my purpose. I was constantly disappointed in myself for feeling as though I had let my family and friends down. For every rejection, I believed that I was unworthy of becoming a productive member of society. Furthermore, I grew angry with myself because I felt that I had no right to complain. I recognized my depression made me feel more selfish, and I didn’t want to be that way. My mind went to some dark places.

Better Days

Thankfully, I also have days where I don’t want to melt into bed and stare at the ceiling. I realized I needed to utilize every good day and be as productive as possible. I reached out to old professors, friends, even friends’ parents to ask them if they knew of any job or volunteer opportunities. One of my weaknesses is wanting to take on everything by myself. However, I have learned that people genuinely want to help.

That help can come from surprising places: after pushing myself to keep going, I found a volunteer opportunity through a friend, and I received encouraging advice from a woman I work for who, was also an art major in college. I continued to do my own research and also landed opportunities to share my artwork.

Then, right as I wrote this article, I landed a job at a great independent coffee shop. While coffee is not directly in the art field, I realized it relates to my major because I love to work on my art at cafes while sipping on a nice iced mocha. Coffee shops provide me an environment that fuels my creativity, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to join the world of coffee.

During this process, I had to remember what made me happy: these opportunities, outside of pure job searching, brought a routine back into my life and reminded me that my degree had been working toward something.

Pushing Through

This post is not intended to be a guide on postgraduate careers, but a moment of self-reflection: during my job search I sunk to the bottom, but with the support of friends and family, I picked myself up and kept moving.

Know that if you have ever experienced any of the feelings or situations mentioned, I sympathize. Contrary to what others may say, it’s not wrong to feel like the world is against you or that you’ve given your all to get nothing back; however, it’s also up to the individual to figure out how to combat these feelings and fight for the future they deserve. Remember that our inner demons are not the thoughts of those who care about us the most, and that potential employers don’t know us beyond a resume, a cover letter, or a 30-minute be-all and end-all interview.

So hold onto your hope and keep filling out those applications—because the the more job eggs you have in your basket, the better chance one of them will hatch.

Lily Troup graduated UC Davis in 2017 with a B.A. in Studio Art. While at Davis, she found her love for traditional printmaking and earned an internship for The Washington Printmakers Gallery in Washington, DC. She emphasizes in traditional black and white illustrations of original character art. To learn more about Lily, follow her on Instagram @squidinamasonjar or visit lilytroup.com

“If you or a friend are in a similar chapter of your life, know that you’re not alone,” says Lily.

CAREER RESOURCES:

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES:

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