Through out my study abroad program, I have met students from all over the University of California system. Many of us ask each other, even half way through the semester: “What school are you from?” When that question comes up, I am always involuntarily uneasy. The reason why is because there are students from UC Berkeley and UCLA, some of the most well known, prestigious UC campuses. So I am always afraid that my school, the school I love, will be sidelined, as it is the newest campus of the University of California. So I stand there and think to myself, why did I choose UC Merced?
My freshman year I would have said that I chose UC Merced because I couldn’t say no to the financial aid package. However, that is not the real reason why I chose UC Merced. The real reason is clear: UC Merced is full of opportunities.
What I mean by that, is that even before I decided to go to UC Merced, this amazing school was giving undocumented students like me the financial aid they needed to get a college education, when no other university would. Being the newest campus is actually an advantage for UC Merced, because as they are growing, they are learning how to serve their students better. Not to mention, the opportunity to be pioneers and shape the history of this brand new UC campus.
What UC Merced offers is far more than just a place to study, it is a tight-knit community with research and study abroad opportunities and a vibrant student life. With the end of my time as an undergrad at UC Merced approaching, I have so much gratitude for the university that believed in me and allowed me to succeed. So now when I get asked what school I am from, I proudly say: University of California, Merced.