Name: Melissa Jimenez
Major and current year at UCI: Sociology, 2nd Year
Scholarship received: Social Sciences Alumni Excellence Scholar for 2020-21
Hometown: Lincoln Heights (Los Angeles), California

What life experiences standout for you thus far, and what challenges have you had to overcome in your journey to a college degree?

First, making it into college. I come from an immigrant family who has valued work more than school, so I never thought I would go to college. Being the first in my family to go to college was a major milestone for my family and me.

The biggest challenge to get where I am today was not having any connections or networks. Since no one in my family has ever gone to college I went through the transition by myself as I did not have many people to ask for help or advice. I am currently content with the position I am in today as I have felt like I am accomplishing what I have always wished for, not only for me but my family as well.

A major life experience that has had an impact on who I am today was when my cousin from Mexico was diagnosed with cancer. Since her family was not able to find the right cure in Mexico my mom took on the role of taking care of her and ensuring she got the proper treatment in LA. This experience shaped me into a mature, resilient person because through all the challenging experiences we went through it taught me to value my life and my health. I learned to push through the most difficult times in my life while still putting my education ahead of me.

Why did you choose UCI and your major in sociology?

I decided to come to UCI because it honestly had the best financial aid my family would be able to afford. On top of that, the distance from home was perfect as it is not too far nor too close to home.

I am a very social person, so I wanted to work in a field where I can socialize with people and still be able to help them out in life. For this reason, I hope to become a medical social worker to be able to help patients in the hospital.

What activities have you been involved with?

Currently, I am involved in two volunteer organizations. The first is called Step Up Tutoring, where I am tutoring students from under-resourced communities in math and English subjects. The second organization is AMP Mentorship program where I provide Alliance college freshmen with the transition support necessary to be academically and socially successful in college.

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

My mom and dad have played an important role in my family thus far because they have been my support system. Whenever I need something or someone they are always there to provide the support I need. I am very grateful for them and the role they have played in my life.

What’s your best UCI memory thus far?

My best memory thus far from my undergraduate experience was when all of my friends and I went bowling. We rented a zipcar on campus and since we did not bring the car back in time we got charged $50. It’s funny looking back to it now, but it was not nice in the moment.

When will you graduate and what are your plans after?

I plan to finish my degree in 2023, and afterward, I will apply to graduate school to get my master’s of social work.

 

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