UC Davis’ Eduardo Landicho Among First-Gen Students in UC’s Class of 2023

Eduardo Landicho posing for a photo on the UC Davis campus
Eduardo "Eddie" Landicho, shown here in front of Cruess Hall at UC Davis, is one of nine of UC's first-generation students profiled as they become graduates. He will speak at commencement at 2 p.m. Saturday (June 17) at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis).

Thousands of mortarboards will fly skyward this spring as roughly 65,800 seniors become newly minted college grads, joining the ranks of UC’s 2 million intrepid alumni. By any measure, the class of 2023 has a lot to celebrate. In addition to the usual ups and downs of a college journey, they persevered through the pandemic, with its unprecedented upheavals and loss. Returning to campus in person, they pushed through these challenges to immerse themselves in learning, community, and connection. 

One notable bragging right of the class of 2023 — more than 41% are among the first generation in their families to earn a university degree. Much more than a dry statistic, it’s a significant number that represents the life-changing promise of education and the role UC plays in creating a brighter future for a wide swath of Californians. 

This year’s 27,000 first-generation grads each bring their own unique spark to the collective fiat lux. Their diplomas speak of ambition, determination and purpose, of knowledge, optimism and opportunity — and careers that will span every industry. Eduardo "Eddie" Landicho of UC Davis is among nine of UC's first-gen students profiled as they become graduates. 

Landicho started his UC Davis career in remote classes, immersing himself in design from Day 1. But when he arrived on campus in his second year, he found an unexpected surprise. Many older buildings, including the Department of Design’s home, Cruess Hall, were at times unworkable for someone navigating the world in a wheelchair, he said, despite having been retrofitted for accessibility. Those day-to-day limitations became a source of inspiration and purpose for Landicho. “I started to see a lot of problems with accessibility that were not being talked about,” he said. “So I shifted my design focus to architecture and accessibility, because I live it.”

Landicho was born with an extremely rare form of muscular dystrophy and has been using a wheelchair exclusively since the age of 5. Growing up in Porterville, in the San Joaquin Valley, Landicho didn’t feel like “a kid with a disability.” His mom and dad had no experience with physical disability. “They were basically winging it,” Landicho said. Yet they were determined that their son have every opportunity possible. When it was time for college, Landicho’s family supported him all the way — his mom even moved to Davis to care for him while he went to school.

“My mom was always there to say, ‘If you want to do it, let’s do it.’ And my dad would always tell me, ‘If you want to achieve this goal, you’ve got to work for it. But I don’t see you not achieving it.’ That nurturing allowed me to be who I truly wanted to be.” 

I never thought I would be here, graduating from UC Davis. But I just made my own path, carved it as I needed to. You know, if you do what you love and just stick to it, I’d say that great things are going to happen. — Eduardo ‘Eddie’ Landicho

In the design community at UC Davis, Landicho worked to open a dialogue around accessibility, bringing attention to the challenges the built environment can present and talking about how design can facilitate inclusion and belonging. 

“I want to change how we look at infrastructure today and make it much more inclusive for those with disabilities,” he said. For an independent study project his senior year, Landicho revisited the architecture of Cruess Hall. In his “Re-Accessibility Project,” an elegant circular ramp is integrated into the building’s façade. “You have the option of taking the ramp all the way to the second floor. It’s not added on as a last-minute thing. It’s integrated into the building in a way that is very beautiful and powerful.”

Wrapping up at UC Davis, Landicho is bringing the accessibility conversation to a wider stage as a TEDxUCDavis presenter and 2023 commencement speaker. He plans to work in the architecture, design and accessibility field before attending graduate school in design.

Apollonia Morrill is a content strategist-writer in marketing communications at the UC Office of the President.

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