We asked our graduating students...

What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you first entered UC Santa Cruz?

They said...

karoli-clever-crop“Reach out and find support. It is there and friendships help make things so much more fun. When things get rough, always go to your teachers, advisors, and counselors. They will help, I promise!” - Karoli Clever (Crown College)


photo of luna hernandez

The importance of building long-term relationships, especially with professors, staff, and other students that are pursuing similar academic goals. As a first-gen transfer student that that just graduated and is now looking for options after UCSC, it is so crucial to have professors that know you well (not just in classes but also your personal life, hardships, and accomplishments in school and out) because it is through your connections that someone can then refer you to jobs, internships, or research opportunities. Even if you were to come across an opportunity on your own, you will still most likely need a letter of recommendation or a reference, so again building relationships on campus, which consists of not only taking classes but visiting office hours, taking the time to essentially introduce yourself and your life story and asking for help and also being transparent and honest with professors and asking them to please keep you in mind when opportunities come up or they might even be open to starting a new research project that you're interested in pursuing! So to sum up the advice: build relationships with people on campus as early on as possible. Even before I began my first quarter at UCSC, I went to go introduce myself to professors in my department (do your own research first and make sure you visit their personal page so you know what kind of research interests they have), ****Also, don't be afraid to meet people outside of your department!!! I asked professors for permission to take courses that were outside of my field of study because I wanted to take advantage of the classes being offered and have a more interdisciplinary approach to my education. Trust me, especially as a transfer student, time will FLY SO FAST, so take advantage of all the resources that you have available to you as a student (*career center, EOP, research programs, library services that include being able to rent out equipment, free printing, DRC, mental health services, recreation program, physical education courses, CASFS on-campus farm, ENVS internship office, your individual college, FIT Life, the gym, the pool, the hikes, etc...). Also, if you only have 2-3 years (which by the way transfer students get 2 years and 1 quarter automatically, and you can petition to extend your enrollment to three full transfer years especially if you have double majors) so have somewhat of a plan, don't wait until after you graduate to meet professors or visit the career center-the sooner the better (do it before you even start in the Fall since the campus in the summer is WAY less busy) and also have a financial plan. I know a lot of first-gen students, including myself, use financial aid money to help out our families, but make a financial plan that works best for yourself as well so you come out with the least as possible debt (ie. learn how to budget and seek guidance from financial aid, career center, book by David Ramsey on how to budget in college). Also, one last small but important piece of advice for those that have to ride the bus, especially at the beginning of the quarter, buses are JAM PACKED, and they move quickly, so as soon as you get on the bus, grab onto something or sit down or you might go flying! And most of the time, especially during traffic time, it's best to just walk, also the UCSC campus is stunning, and you won't be there for long so take advantage of how beautiful the campus is!!! ENJOY!!! - Luna Hernandez Rameriz (College Ten)

photo of saul alvarez

“Keep going, it might be hard at first to adjust to a new setting whether you are a first-year or transfer student, but you will feel at home before you know it!” - Saul Alvarez (Oakes College)


audrinawood-80x80.png“Never give up no matter how long it takes you to finish. You will feel even better that you overcame all the challenges you faced during those years. Where there is a will there's a way! Hold on to that passion tightly.”  - Audrina Wood (Cowell College)



“It is important to do well in school, but you also have to live life a little — find pockets to rest amidst the work.” - Andy Le (College Nine)



“Things will get hard, you will most likely face imposter syndrome, and this will be an experience like no other; but these are worries and struggles that many other people have faced as well. You are not alone in your feelings, and your feelings are valid even when you feel like no one quite understands them. Just make sure you always take time for yourself to breathe and prioritize your mental, physical, and emotional health. Make sure you build and/or find a community that is good for you and your growth. Please, please, please utilize the many resources on campus sooner than later; because as easy as it is to ignore them and make it through the quarter mildly struggling, it's just as easy to use them and get the support you deserve to avoid all the unnecessary hassle in the first place.

If college was supposed to be easy, everyone would get in. You were selected to attend for a reason. You decided to attend for a reason. You following through with this journey to the end will be worth all the days of conflicted debating whether it's worth it or not. Never lose sight of what is important to you, and why you are here.” - Mia Kennedy (Crown College)

alexishooper-80x80.jpg“Do not be afraid of asking professors, advisors, employers, etc for what you need! Ask about that internship! Ask how to get involved with a professor’s research!” - Alexis Hooper (College Nine)


ashleymgonzalez-80x80.jpg“Those struggles, fear, and sacrifices of a first-gen college student, will pay off when you see your family so proud. It will make you stronger and you will look back at yourself and see how much you’ve changed.”  - Ashley M. Gonzalez (Merrill College)


wendymatta-80x80.png“You deserve to be here. There are resources here to help you. You don't have to and shouldn't go into debt.” - Wendy Matta (Oakes College)


photo of katherine cardoza“Take chances on yourself! Do what makes you happy and feel accomplished. You get a couple of years here and the more time you spend taking classes that mean something to you or being a part of something you are passionate about the better your experience will be. If things go wrong take it as a learning experience because that is what we are here for!” - Katherine Cardoza (Rachel Carson)

photo of jenny cordier“There’s a lot [to] offer, and it’s okay to just focus on your goals. Don’t feel like you have to do it all.” - Jenny Cordier (Cowell College)


photo of jesse henderson“Don't worry too much about taking notes during lecture because most lecture notes are posted and you can just focus on listening during the live lecture.” - Jesse Henderson (Cowell College)


photo of daniela olan guia in front of bush“Some advice I wish someone would have given me when I first entered UCSC is that it’s okay to fail and to learn from your mistakes. That it’s okay to ask for help and advocate for yourself.” - Daniela Olano Guia (Crown College)


photo of arley rodaslara“Don't take anything for granted and go for internships, workshops, etc to be aware of everything you are entitled to as a student! If you need help with anything, don't be afraid to ask or seek out resources. Everyone I have come across at UCSC has been incredibly helpful and understanding.” - Arley Rodas Lara (Rachel Carson)

photo of tiffany theden“Go hiking on the upper campus trails everyday. Go to the Norris Center. Get into mushroom hunting/mycology. Explore the beautiful nature of this campus and help to protect it for the future!” - Tiffany Theden (Kresge College)


photo of salma torres“Look for support. It’s there. Get involved in any way you can and start building connections right away. They go a long way.” - Salma V. Torres (Kresge College)


photo of anmichel sotelo“I would like to tell the younger generation that things do not get easier, but they do get better. Growing up in a new environment and having to experience higher education as a first-generation student comes with its unique challenges, but I do think that it's our duty and our responsibility to make all those who love us proud. Also I think it is important to remember that you are someone you love and it's so important to take care of yourself too.” - An Michel Sotelo (Kresge College)

photo of justin tran“I would try to branch out and take advantage of every opportunity given. It’s okay to seek help whether it’s with a class, looking for an internship, or finding volunteer experience. If you’re in EOP, utilize it to its fullest or if you join an organization, build your network.” - Justin Tran


 photo of ally bahk“Coming in as a transfer student, I’d say to go to parties because that’s how I made most of my friends.” - Ally Bahk (Kresge College)


photo of jesus torres-antonio“Don't be afraid to get involved in clubs and in school events, join a team (athletics) just like high school. Stay active in the community as well with school.” - Jesus Torres-Antonio (Rachel Carson)


photo of ana duarte“[Some advice] I wish someone would have given me when I first entered UCSC is that there is a lot of support out there, you just have to reach for it.” - Ana Duarte (Stevenson College)


photo of taina morales“Your education does not stop here at your undergrad. Higher education needs more first-gen BIPOC in the space of higher Ed!” - Taina Morales (Kresge College)


photo of daniel rodriguez junior“Work hard but don’t forget to network and make friends. These are people you can relate to and often can support each other in facing barriers/struggles.” - Daniel Rodriguez Jr. (College Ten)


photo of monet ketchum“Quarter system is super fast, college advisors are your best friend.” - Monet Ketchum (Kresge College)


photo of erika puentes“Enjoy the campus and your time at UCSC. Take lots of pictures of yourself on campus. Take advantage of the beautiful places on campus” - Erika Esmeralda Gomez Puentes (Porter college)


photo of suzy xu“There will always be opportunities for you.” - Xiuyi (Suzy) Xu (Rachel Carson College)



photo of elizabeth hernandezIt’s okay if your major doesn’t work out for you. We live in a society where higher education isn’t attainable for us. But regardless of the obstacles we face, we can do it. I changed my major from STEM to Social Sciences and it was the best change I did for myself and for my academics. It’s okay if a major isn’t meant for you.” - Elizabeth Hernandez (Rachel Carson College)

 photo of angel garciaComing into college can be really difficult, and I know many times it felt that everyone around me was already a step ahead while I was still trying to find my footing. I really would recommend finding communities on campus of people that are on the same career path as you or have the same interests. Also, reach out to professors whose work you are interested in, you never know where it could take you.- Angel Garcia (Stevenson College)

 photo of erykah bazile holding her first gen shirt“Do not compare yourself to those next to you.” - Erykah Bazile (Stevenson College)



photo of jessica garcia“Make the best out of your college experience because you never know what will happen tomorrow.” - Jessica Garcia (Oakes Colleges)


photo of yulenia lopez“Look for resources and network with students with similar experiences, many are glad to help and it helps to not feel alone.” - Yuleni Hernandez Lopez (Kresge College)


photo of stelton phelps“The advice I would offer being here at UCSC is that you may not know what the purpose of your journey maybe, and that's perfectly fine. No two individual's paths are ever the same so you cannot think of yourself as less than others when we are not all starting at the same positions in life. Some may have a head-start already while others are still at the starting line. But no matter what, you are in charge of your own ever-changing life. Just be comfortable with who you are, do not be afraid of change.” - Stelton Phelps (Porter College)

photo of yesenia verga“I want all first-gen students to know that you are valuable! Your knowledge, lived experiences, and cultural wealth are assets that make you resilient and amazing. I have learned to embrace my identities and lived experiences at UCSC through the support I have received at EOP, and I want more first-gen to recognize their worth.” - Yesenia Vega (Merrill College)

photo of megan marciel“Don't be afraid of change, it's inevitable. You will make mistakes along the way but ultimately they will help you grow as a person. Overall, be kind to yourself!” - Megan Maciel (College Ten)


photo of isai lopez“Keep pushing forward because si se puede. That phrase has kept me going and just thinking about my younger sister and cousins who look up to me.” - Isai Lopez Rodas (Oakes College)


photo of osvaldo serrano“The advice that I wish someone would have given me when I first entered UCSC is, make sure to manage your time, and reach out for help and use all the resources available to you.” - Osvaldo Serrano (Cowell College)