My experience at UC Merced has been beyond what I expected. I found an interest in UC Merced because I used to visit my friend from high school often, and during my visits, I met people along the way. What was different for me is that I knew people when planning to come UCM, but I made my own journey once I got here. I got involved in extracurricular activities right away, I joined Hermanos Unidos (HU) and the Degree Attainment for Returning and Transfer Students (D.A.R.T.S.) during my fall semester, and both organizations have helped me grow in different ways.
Hermanos Unidos is an organization that focuses on Academic Excellence, Social Interactions and Community Service. I first joined because my friend was part of the organization, and she invited me to check it out. I would just go to meetings and attend events here and there, but over time, I started to get more involved because I wanted to and actually enjoyed it. All of our events are focused on building a bond. We have game nights, community service events, fundraisers, study-a-thons, and events with other orgs on campus. We are the UC Merced familia, and there 15 familias all over California, every so often we collaborate with the other familias.
Every year, we have Hermanos Unidos National Conference, this year it was at San Francisco State University (SFSU), and anyone who wanted to go from any of the 15 familias could go. There were over 600 hermanos there, and HU de SFSU hosted workshops, platicas, and activities to meet other hermanos from other schools, which was really cool because you make connections with people from other schools that could have similar interests.
I have grown as person with the help of the program and the organization. When I first came to college, my mentality was that I was just going to attend school, handle my classes, and just make friends along the way. D.A.R.T.S. is a program whose goal is to help transfer and returning students get involved on campus. D.A.R.T.S. helped me grow in my academics, I go to office hours and communicate with my TAs because if they are aware of the effort you’re putting in, it can factor into your grade.
HU helped me break out of my personal shell, I used to be very shy and to myself. I don’t say this to brag, but I have a big group of real friends, my hermanos, that I see in my life either for a long time or for the rest of my life. Just two weeks ago, I was nominated for a position on Steering of HU, I took the nomination and ran for Historian. I ended up winning the position, and now I hold a chair on the Steering Board of Hermanos Unidos for the upcoming school year! Holding a leadership position in an organization is something I NEVER saw myself doing or even wanting.
I am currently majoring in cognitive science, with the goal to receive a bachelors of science. Cognitive science is the combination of philosophy, psychology, computer science, neuroscience and linguistics. Through HU, I have been able to meet other hermanos who are also majoring in cognitive science or are taking the same courses. We have group chats designated specifically to our major, and it includes current students of any year and alumni. What I love about this is we can ask questions about classes we should take or if there are any deadlines coming up, it’s like a support group within the org.
A lot of people criticize Merced, people call it cowtown or ‘Merdead’ just cause it’s out in the middle of nowhere, but what makes the college experience at UC Merced is the people that you surround yourself with. Because every time I leave to go back home or away from Merced, I want to return even more. 💛🐮💙
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