NorCal’s Hidden Gem: UC Santa Cruz

When most students are asked to name their top University of California campuses, the usual answers are UCLA, Berkeley, and UC Santa Barbara. Hardly do you hear students mention UC Santa Cruz, one of California’s best hidden gems, located just an hour and a half way from the center of San Francisco. So why is UC Santa Cruz one of the last choices for students? Maybe it’s the misconception that UCSC is nothing more that a hippie school filled with weird traditions. Or perhaps, it’s simply students lack of exposure to the campus and everything it has to offer.  

UC Santa Cruz is the perfect campus for any nature loving student. While UC Santa Barbara might be enticing because of its views of the Pacific Ocean, UC Santa Cruz allows students to experience the wilder side of nature. An average walk to class is a short peaceful hike through gigantic redwood groves where you might even encounter a few deer casually strolling by. And with a short bus ride to the beach, you’ll have access to some of California’s best surfing conditions.

Aside from the tranquility and beauty of campus, UCSC is also one of the leading universities in research and academics. With unique majors like marine biology and astrophysics along with more popular majors such as psychology, biology, and different disciplines of engineering, there is something for anyone. Santa Cruz is also leading research in areas such as environmental sustainability and mapping human genomes. Plus, UCSC offers thousands in grants to support Latinos students in STEM, writing, or who want to pursue undergraduate research.

With over 150 clubs and organizations ranging from academic to social and political justice, different cultural and religious groups, there is a club on campus for everyone. The diversity of the campus allows for students from different backgrounds and identities to feel welcomed and accepted. Not only that, but Northern California is known for its unique sense of art, music, and fashion, allowing students to enjoy a variety of events outside both on and off campus.

As Jared Barrera, a recent UCSC graduate put it, “I have never lived outside of Los Angeles especially on my own. I never visited the school and only saw pictures online. I took the biggest gamble of my life by coming here. Looking back I feel like it shaped me into the best version of myself. I was able to become independent and find myself in the forest, but besides the beach, nightlife, and a beautiful campus, I got a good education. If I had to choose, I’d choose Santa Cruz all over again.”

What do you think?

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Yvette Torres

Yvette Torres

Yvette Torres is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and the first college graduate of her family. Growing up in Lynwood, she witnessed many friends fall victim to the obstacles of first generation students, but with the help of her teachers was able to reach her dreams of attending a four year university after graduation. She obtained her BA in Educational Studies and Psychology and Social Behavior from UC Irvine. With a strong love for her community and her passion to assist low-income students reach their college dreams, Yvette joined the Lynwood Alumni Association. She began by helping plan their annual College Conference and two years later took the lead as the Conference Chair. Previously she worked as the High School Coordinator for Be A Leader Foundation- Pico Rivera and mentored students through the college application process. Her love for helping students has taken her to the classroom and is currently working as a substitute teacher for her former school district, Lynwood Unified. Concurrently she is working on her Masters in School Counseling at Concordia University Irvine. Her dream is to return to Lynwood High School as their College and Career Counselor and help the students in her community.

One thought on “NorCal’s Hidden Gem: UC Santa Cruz

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    I love this! I am a bit bias because this is my son’s first year of college and he attends UCSC. As Jared my son had never left home and we had never really thought of Santa Cruz for him. But I am glad he choose this school. On our first trip there during spring break, we saw the beautiful forest and how close it was to the beach. The loneliness scared me a bit but I can see that it fine for him. He has grown up so much in the few months he has been there. I am very proud of him and his accomplishments, so far.

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