Each student has their own educational path in life. Here is how this year's recipients of the Dean's Award for Community Engagement decided to study in the School of Social Ecology.
When I started applying to colleges, I did not know who or what I wanted to be but I knew I wanted to try and make a difference in the world. I struggled to find a college which seemed like it would help me to focus and cultivate my interests and goals. It wasn’t until I stumbled across the Psychology and Social Behavior major on the UCI website that I knew I had found something along the lines of what I was looking for. Upon applying, I did not know much about Social Ecology as a whole, but it seemed to be innovative and non-traditional which is exactly what I was looking for. I made the decision to come to UCI specifically because we have the only School of Social Ecology in the UC system. I wanted to have value as a student, and make a contribution to society now, not after I had finished school. I wanted my knowledge to make a difference and practically apply the things I was being taught. While I didn’t know immediately, I came to find that Social Ecology was founded on these exact principles; fostering students who want to use knowledge ad research to achieve relevant social action and to stimulate change.
My enrollment in Social Ecology came by happenstance; however I am very grateful it did. As a full time student at Los Angeles City College (LACC) and working full time, it was difficult for me to find guidance in the transfer process. I initially was not sure what I wanted to major in and little information was available for me to learn more about opportunities out there. The counselor at LACC told me about UC Irvine’s Social Ecology program, admitting she knew very little about it but that I should check it out. After reading about Social Ecology I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me to be involved in a program that applies to the multitude of social and environmental issues and would provide a strong educational foundation for what I was passionate about.
My numerous involvements during high school allowed me to become really close with my counselors and teachers. As a result, they knew my goals and understood my passion for working in the criminal justice system. My personal counselor directed me towards UCI since it was the only UC campus
that had Criminology, Law, and Society as a major. I researched it a little bit and decided to apply. Personally, I learn a lot better if I am involved in the middle of an activity or project. For example, I only
learned more about the school of Social Ecology once I joined the Social Ecology Student Association. Because of that, I learned about the prestigious professors on campus and began working for them as their research assistants. Coming to UCI was the best decision that I had ever made my senior year of high school. I did not begin to appreciate the school of Social Ecology nor UCI until my many involvements on the campus.