‘Face to Face’: Graduating With Experience

Julia Lee and Dustin Lower on Making Post-Grad Opportunities a Pre-Graduation Reality

It’s the question every college student faces: How do my present actions support my future goals? 

In the latest episode of Face to Face, Chancellor Gary S. May speaks with Julia Lee and Dustin Lower about their unique pathways towards graduating and the experiences that helped them make their next steps after graduation more tangible through on-campus resources.

Lower is both a transfer and reentry student who, after returning to campus in 2022, graduated this spring with a degree in plant biology. He describes Davis' department as “one of the best in the world.” Lee is graduating with a degree in neurobiology, physiology and behavior. Both thrived from supportive undergraduate communities and cohorts. 

For Lower, it was AvenueB, a program that aims to smooth the transitions for community college students when they enter UC Davis and, ultimately, when they enter a career in biological sciences. Finding mentors and other students helped Lower overcome fears about being an older student and “get acclimated during the transfer process.” 

Purple graphic with text "Face to Face with Chancellor May"

He’s staying on campus after graduation to pursue his Ph.D. and to also “continue to inspire people who may be in the same position that I was in,” he explained. “I can relay my story and hopefully inspire others to do the same thing that I did.”

Lee spent three years working for the Internship and Career Center, or ICC, as a biology peer advisor. She also found community through BioLaunch, which she describes as “a four-year program that introduces students to careers in biological sciences and health.” Run by both the College of Biological Sciences and the ICC, the three-part program introduces new life sciences students to a community-focused approach. Later this year, Lee will begin her new role as a junior specialist in the Division of Vascular Surgery at UC Davis Health. 

Hear how Lee hopes to use “what I learned from undergrad, both the interpersonal skills and the rigor of the classes I've taken, to propel myself forward in these next steps.”

Also in the video, test your Eggheads knowledge and discover some unique summer travel recommendations before Lower and Lee turn the tables on May to ask how the chancellor finds mentorship at his career stage.

Julia Lee sits to the left of Dustin Lower, with both sitting at a round table inside a recording studio. Across the table sits Chancellor Gary S. May who is facing the two of them while in conversation. He is wearing a light suit.
Julia Lee and Dustin Lower in conversation with Chancellor Gary S. May (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Media Resources

José Vadi is a writer for Dateline UC Davis, and can be reached by email.

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