Name: Yara Bojorquez
Major and current year at UCI: Political Science, International Studies; 5th year
Scholarship received: Outstanding Community College Transfer Student
Hometown: Pomona, California

How did you decide on UCI for your undergrad, and what piqued your interest in your major?

When I decided to aim for my bachelor’s degree, I had two choices – UC or Cal State. I shot for a renowned research institution by the beach and luckily, UCI accepted me with flying colors!

The political science department at my community college was truly outstanding. I joined their Model United Nations team my last year in attendance, and I never looked back.

What would you consider your biggest accomplishment at UCI?

The relationships I have made with mentors and peers. Quick mentor shout out to Caesar Sereseres, Teresa Neighbors, Long Bui and Pamela Kelley!

What activities have you been involved in as an Anteater?

I am a mentor to middle and high school students through various programs offered on campus and have worked with first-generation college students every year since my first year at UCI through the Summer Academic Enrichment Program (SAEP).

Tell us about your research.

I’m currently set to participate in this year’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Symposium where I will be presenting two pieces – one solo and one with my research partner. My research primarily focuses on Cannabis use and attitudes across the U.S. and specifically within the Latin@ communities of Southern California. Additionally, I am teaching a seminar as part of the UTEACH program at UCI that centers around the history of the human relationship with psychoactive plants and their chemical derivatives.

Who has played an important role in your life thus far and why?

Many people have played critical roles in my life, but perhaps the most pertinent role has been filled by my mother. Were it not for her, I would not have discovered the initial confidence to pursue an education.

What challenges have you faced in getting where you are today?

Apart from being the first person in my family to attend higher education, my greatest challenges have all been internal. Facing my own insecurities, though, has definitely strengthened my lion heart.

Where can you most often be found on campus?

In one of my mentors’ offices or under a tree.

What’s your best memory thus far from your undergraduate experience at UCI?

I will never forget two things – 1) the first time my first mentor remembered my name, 2) the first time I met my research partner. My entire life changed in those two instances.  

When are you wrapping up your bachelor’s, what’s the plan from there?

I graduate in just a few weeks! I will be applying to graduate programs over the incoming year.

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