MyUCDavis: A decision that I almost never considered

Refresh…click…refresh – I sat looking at my UC Application, wondering which college would admit me and where I would continue my education for the next four years of my life. As soon as March rolled around and decisions were delivered, this was the only thing on my mind; I obsessively clicked away trying to figure out which colleges I would have to choose from. I remember sitting in the lobby of the Holiday Inn while on vacation, finally seeing what my options were. Like many students, I ended up applying to all the UCs because I was told it would improve my chances but I did not do my research on almost any of them. Ultimately, I ended up choosing UCD but it was for all of the wrong reasons.
The reason I choose Davis at the onset was because truthfully, I thought it would be easier academically because it was lesser known. It turns out that is not the case. UC Davis is in fact challenging in its academic rigor as well as pushes students to the height of their potential, preparing them for their future careers appropriately. Ultimately, choosing a school based on perceptions might not be the best method to make such a momentous decision. What ultimately made me love UC Davis the way I do is its beautiful environment; immensely nice people; engaging college atmosphere and youthful culture.

Fast forward to today, I am currently a fourth-year Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major pursuing a career in medicine. UC Davis has treated me well from the onset; starting as a freshman, I quickly and smoothly made friends in the dorms and acclimated to life as a college student. The friendly environment coupled with the informative resident and academic advising allowed me to thrive socially, academically and personally. During my first year I utilized all of the tutoring services that UC Davis had to offer as well as the professors and TAs, who always made themselves available to students whenever they needed extra help.
After becoming comfortable, it became easier to add on more to my academic workload and pursue activities that interested me. These activities included joining volunteer clubs; community service groups; intramural sports; securing a part-time job as a Peer Adviser, professional groups and many other things the campus had to offer. My story is not unlike my peers and the important takeaways are that UC Davis fosters an environment that encourages involvement, an active college experience, and the pursuit of academic excellence.
I became a better person by getting involved, pushing myself academically and engaging in discussions with like-minded scholars and renowned professors. UC Davis has allowed me to discover myself and uncover the kind of person that I want to be after my undergraduate career. I encourage everyone reading this to drop preconceived notions they might have about a campus or university and actually go out and experience it. Without visiting Davis, experiencing the place for myself and giving it a chance, I know I would have regretted my decision. Looking back on it now, I am amazed that my misperception turned out to be such a fortuitous decision that allowed me to grow as both a man and scholar and brought me closer to my career at the same time.
Sam Bhatnagar
Biological Academic Success Center Peer Adviser
Fourth Year, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major

Why UC Davis?

Before getting hired as a Tour Guide my sophomore year, I never really gave it much thought as to why I decided to come UC Davis. You always hear the cliché that when you visit the right college it will just “feel right”, and to me, UC Davis gave me that feeling. Of course, simply saying that isn’t exactly a satisfactory answer when addressing a group of prospective students and families, so over the years I’ve worked on searching a bit deeper to pinpoint what exactly set UC Davis apart from everywhere else.

First and foremost, I have to address the community of the university and the town of Davis itself. Geographically speaking, we are located in a fairly central location where students can realistically go to the Bay Area, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Napa and/or the California State capitol, while still reaping the benefits of living in a college town. However, what I believe really sets Davis apart are the students and residents that make up the community. To put it simply: the people here in Davis are unlike anyone else I have ever, and probably will ever encounter, and in the best way possible. Strangers smile and hold open doors for you like old friends; cashiers at Trader Joe’s and Safeway always ask how you’re doing and if you’re having a good day during check outs; classmates actually want to help each other do well and actively support one another during all hours of the day in class or on Facebook pages (which by the way, is AMAZING when you are studying the night before a midterm or final!); students can easily befriend so many random people simply based on the fact that they consistently study/hang out in the same spot (I kid you not, I just had someone in a study group next to me offer me some of their food); and not to mention that my fellow Aggies are great about keeping an eye out for each other and even returning found items (For me over the last four years it’s been keys, an embarrassingly high number of ID cards, and today – again, I am not making this stuff up – I was reunited with my favorite water bottle I thought I had lost during Week 9 of last quarter!). My sisters have also noted this friendly Davis culture and love coming to In-n-Out or Dutch Bros among other places because they get treated so well. I think there is also something to be said about the fact that in high school (and still to this day), my friends and I would drive up to Davis as early as 8/9am or as late as 9/10pm in order to hang out at Central Park or Downtown Davis, get some Yolo Berry, go to Picnic Day (which is the largest student run event in the country and is taking place April 11th of this year!) or peruse the Farmer’s Market (Saturdays 8-1, and Wednesdays 4:30-8:30 pm, Mar 16 through Oct 26, 2016, year-round, rain or shine!). And if this isn’t convincing enough about how special the people here are, Newsweek  has recognized us the 10th happiest campus in the country!

Davis has about 267 sunny days and about 58 days of rain per year which is perfect for someone like me who loves warm weather and spending time outdoors. With races that are put on almost monthly by organizations on campus or local companies like “Change of Pace”, it’s been easy for me to continue running throughout college and has even allowed me to start some new traditions of races I now do annually.

With over 40,000 bikes here on campus and the US Bicycle Hall of Fame located less than a 10 minute walk from campus, UC Davis is almost always affiliated with our bike culture.  Since Davis is so flat, one can get pretty much anywhere in the city without a car. The number of “secret” tunnels and paths connecting the city together is mind blowing, and those like me who enjoy running will be ecstatic to try the Davis Bike Loop, Arboretum, Fitness Trail, the multiple green belts, and the countless routes that can be made when you explore the forks in these paths. What is even more fun, is when you find the fountains, ponds, parks, maps, statues of dominos and dogs, and other pieces of art that are only visible when on these bike paths.

As far as the academics go, UCD has over 100 different majors available, so if you are unsure as to what you want to study, there’s flexibility to allow some exploring during the beginning of your academic career. On the other hand, if you know what you want to study and what you want to do after graduation, you can take advantage of the many resources available to students to get involved in those fields, whether it is through a club, research experience, an internship, or an on campus job. With that being said, I want to emphasize how easy it is to get involved on campus and “work your way up” to officer positions with more responsibilities. It may seem intimidating to go to a school so much larger than your high school, but with over 550 clubs and counting on campus, I always like to say that a larger campus simply means that there’s a greater chance that you’ll find a group of people who share the same interest as you, which instantly makes our 34,000 student population (27,000 undergrads and 7,000 grad students) into a smaller, more intimate experience.

The final, and in my opinion, the most important component is balance. One thing I cannot emphasize enough is to recognize and find a place that will allow you to succeed and be the best version of yourself. Picking a college is picking your home for the next 4 years, which is a long time to be in a place that doesn’t make you truly happy, so not only is it important to be in a location that makes you feel comfortable (personally and academically), but be in a place where you are surrounded by stimulating people you will enjoy spending time with. To use a super cheesy, but UC Davis appropriate analogy, if you think of this experience like riding a bicycle, in order to keep moving forward you have to stay balanced, and what each individual balances is something completely unique and special. For me, most colleges seemed to have the reputation of being on the extremely academic end of the spectrum or on the extremely fun and laid back end, and for my personality and aspirations, UC Davis seemed like the perfect middle ground. Although I am technically writing to share my love of this school in the hopes of you deciding to become a future Aggie, at the end of the day, only you will know what gives you that gut feeling and will be best for you.

Alexa Lopez

Exercise Biology, Class of 2016

Why UC Davis?

Deciding where you’re going to be for the next four years can be associated with a slew of mixed emotions; it can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Personally, my experience here at UC Davis has proven to be one of the best decisions of my life. When I first visited UC Davis, I was intimidated by the vastness of the campus and the abundance of bikes at every corner. However, as I near the end of my third year, I’ve come to realize that this charming town is a lot more small and close-knit than I initially thought it to be.

One of the reasons I chose to attend UC Davis was due to its reputation for research, particularly in the biological sciences; I was interested in the possibility of being able to participate in cutting-edge research. Another reason I decided on UC Davis was its proximity to my home. My parents wanted me to be close to home, so  I could go back and visit on the weekends if I needed to or if I wanted a fix of my mom’s home-cooking. To be quite frank, however, I didn’t have many expectations. As I’ve spent more time here, I found myself coming up with more and more reasons as to why my decision was certainly the right one.

My first year here mostly consisted of me settling into a new town with new people, away from my parents and friends. I immediately realized how friendly of a town Davis is. As I would go on runs or bike rides around the Arboretum, the people I’d pass by would greet me with a warm smile or greeting, a stark contrast from the constant avoidance of eye contact I was faced from back home.

Near the middle of my first year, I also decided to apply to be an Orientation Leader. I wanted to welcome new students and leave an impact as one of their first contacts as part of the Aggie family. I’d like to think that this was the gateway of my increased involvement on campus. I gained valuable experience from being an orientation leader, from speaking in front of an audience of 500 people to building relationships with different types of people from all over the place. Most importantly, it made me more outgoing and gave me the confidence in myself to branch out and take on new challenges. I became a chemistry tutor at the Student Academic Success Center (SASC). I decided to start a club by the end of my freshman year. I applied to this job as a peer adviser for the College of Biological Sciences. I even came back for a second summer as a returning Orientation Leader. Now, I participate in cutting-edge research in a chemistry lab that I so wanted to do as a high school senior.

I owe it all to UC Davis for giving me an abundance of opportunities to learn more about myself and accomplish deeds that I never thought I would do coming out from high school. I can proudly say that I’ve found a new home here. Your time at UC Davis, and college in general, is truly an opportunity for you to discover your potential. Go Ags!

 

Shiela Angulo

3rd Year, Pharmaceutical Chemistry ’17

Peer Adviser, Biology Academic Success Center

 

Decision Day: UC Davis

As my undergraduate career comes to an end here at UC Davis, it’s surprising to look back into the days of my youth and remember that UC Davis was not my first choice. Nevertheless, I fell in love with the University as soon as I explored the town, and as cheesy as it sounds, I have come to call the city of Davis my home. Decision Day 2016  at UCD will bring many prospective students, and I think this is good as time as any to reflect on all the aspects of UC Davis that I love…starting from the beginning of my journey.

 

The Acceptance Letter:

Around mid March, my high school was abuzz with excitement, as UC college acceptances had come out. I had my sights set on a specific program at another university, but unfortunately I didn’t make the cut. I became totally adrift–listless if you will, because I hadn’t really thought of a back up plan. Thus, I started exploring other schools, but not UC Davis… Notorious as a agricultural school, UC Davis didn’t seem right for me.

The Visit

489405606_e2506c0108_z
Davis Downtown

Begrudgingly, I agreed to visit UC Davis with my best friend (who now also attends UC Davis), and I have to admit, I really didn’t have many high hopes for the University. However, when I arrived at the Mondavi Center, I just thought everything looked so peaceful and beautiful and modern. Visiting Davis was honestly one of the main reasons why I decided on Davis as my college of choice. I grew up in a small town in South Bay, and UC Davis had a small community feel that reminded me of home–I loved it. Downtown especially won me over, because it  was so lively and fun. There were a variety of restaurants, lots of students and families, and the best part:it was located 5 minutes away from campus. Not to mention, I learned that UC Davis excelled in multiple areas of study: science, math, and engineering to name a few. Interested in studying Biology, I knew I would be learning from top notch researchers, and I regretted assuming UC Davis was just an agricultural school. Overall I got such a positive, welcoming vibe from UC Davis that I decided not to rule the University out.

The Decision

Back at home, I had a lot of pressure from my family to make a final decision. When I look back, I laugh at how indecisive I was, but at the time, college was a big deal! UC Davis ultimately offered something I couldn’t refuse: community living. I was guaranteed a themed residence hall with just 100 students at UC Davis. The residence hall also guaranteed that I would be taking classes and participating in fun activities with my dorm mates. I could just picture it: 100 new friends living together, studying together, and experiencing UC Davis together. I was sold.

Mooove In Week

403997_434051376655035_1458847410_n
Meeting the University Cows

So all the phony cheesy stuff that I expected to happen…it actually did happen! When I moved into the dorms, I immediately felt right at home. On our first night, we played a giant game of Mafia, and I knew I had made the right decision in choosing UC Davis. The following days I spent visiting the cows near Tercero, enjoying brunch at the dining commons, and lounging outside in the grass. It may sound like I’m making large exaggerations, but I seriously fell in love with UC Davis the moment I arrived!

Why Davis Has So Much To Offer

1015483_10201018767151176_2761431075698629683_o
Visiting the Davis Farmer’s Market

 

I know many students may have a “see it to believe it” attitude, which is why I strongly encourage you to tour UC Davis both as a prospective student AND as a tourist. UC Davis is not only one of the leading Universities in Biological Sciences, but it’s also a great location to get away, have fun, and relax! Here are just a few of my favorite UC Davis related activities: