Ralph J. Hexter, interim chancellor at UC Davis, visited with some young neighbors last week. He encouraged about 200 juniors and seniors from Pioneer High School in Woodland — just 10 miles from the top-ranked university campus — to not only aspire to a University of California education, but also to prepare for it and work hard to achieve it. The event, organized by the Early Academic Outreach Program at UC Davis, was part of Achieve UC, an effort to expand the number and diversity of California students enrolled at UC's nine undergraduate campuses.
Hexter asked students why they want to go to university, and Tomas Cazares stood to answer. "My parents worked hard for the opportunity," he said, adding that he wants to start a teaching career in an elementary school.
Giselle Perez applauded Carzares' dream. She and her twin brother, Ruben, both applied to UC Davis. He proudly pointed out he had his application for mechanical engineering in first. She would follow with an application for studying astronomy.
Senior Cory Akey is looking to start her studies at a nearby community college and asked questions about the Transfer Admissions Guarantee. The program guarantees eligible community college students admission to the university one year prior to transfer.
UC Davis senior Cody Wack joined Hexter, admissions staff and other UC Davis students in fielding questions ranging from the ability to change majors and using financial aid to study abroad to even having doubts along the way. "I said, 'Wait. I thought I could never do this, and now I can,'" the communications major shared with the students. His advice to others who would be the first in their families to graduate from university: "Don't let anyone ever tell you 'No,' and be an advocate for yourself."
Enrique Fernandez told the students at his alma mater that an education is meant to be the beginning of something more. "The education you receive isn't just meant to benefit you," he said. "It's meant to build you as a leader to provide good to your community." A 2016 graduate of the UC Davis School of Law, Fernandez works for an environmental law firm and will be sworn in this week as a member of the Woodland City Council.
Students gathered for photos with UC Davis mascot Gunrock. He'll be cheering them on.