Volume 30 · Number 1 · Fall 2012
I 'heart' UC Davis
It wasn’t the most glamorous of entrances. My two cats and I had to be towed in from Modesto, the location of my second breakdown on my epic journey from Tucson, Ariz. The tow truck finally stopped on University Avenue in front of the whitewashed farmhouse that seemed to depend on an even older oak tree to stay upright. My cats gave mews of relief as I released them on the lawn. I took in a deep breath of the cow-scented air, and smiled. I knew I was going to love attending UC Davis, but little did I know how big a role it was going to play in every aspect of my future.
Since I was three weeks early, I started volunteering for the campus Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and met some of the friendliest people on campus. I helped plan our first event of the school year: The Welcome Back Ice Cream Social. Though the menu was limited (vanilla ice cream sandwiches), the masses quickly arrived. I was in charge of making nametags and this important role led to the sweetest and most PG “how we met” love story of all time. Her name was Mary. Her brown eyes and smile caught my eye, and her contagious, positive energy caught my heart. Fifteen years later I still love to tell the story of how I met my wife at an ice cream social on the tree-shaded lawns of UC Davis.
Then the serious, academic work began. I filled my schedule with literature and writing classes. Norton anthologies littered my bed, desk and backpack. One month I was submerged into the dark world of Milton, the next I was translating Chaucer and actually understanding it. Suddenly, I was becoming an expert in a subject that I used to despise in high school. My creative writing courses were just as life changing. These intimate seminars, and the professors who led them, helped me find my voice. Throw in some UC Davis education courses, a teaching degree from UC Santa Cruz, and BAM! You’ve got yourself a high school English teacher who loves what she does. Because of my exceptional education at UC Davis, my students are finding joy in literature, exploring new cultures and histories, and discovering their voices in their own writing. One of the best compliments I receive from my students is, “I never liked English class before this year.” And to that I say, “Thanks. I’ll be sure to pass that along to my professors at UC Davis.”
Opportunities to find my passion were around every corner at UC Davis or, in my case, inside every Dumpster and recycling bin. I got hired as a student coordinator of the R4 Recycling Program, and transformed into “Super Recycler” — I even had a cape. During my tenure, my crew and I accomplished something that had never been done before at UC Davis: We designed a one-of-a-kind recycling bin system and placed one in every classroom. I helped get the designs approved, map locations and monitored the system’s success. At my first teaching job, I started my school district’s first and only student-run recycling program. And 10 years later, the program continues to thrive, thanks to my experience at R4 and UC Davis.
Whether I’m encouraging my AVID students or contributing on an LGBT speaker’s panel, I am always eager to share stories about my unforgettable days at UC Davis. My diploma hangs proudly on my classroom wall. And, if any of my school’s seniors choose to attend UC Davis (why wouldn’t they?), they know to come to my room to tell me the good news, because anyone attending my alma mater gets a gift bag full of UC Davis goodies from one of its biggest fans.
UC Davis made me who I am and gave me the confidence to achieve my dreams. And these are just some of the reasons why I heart UC Davis.