Name: Christopher Thomas Moreno
Year: Fourth Year
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Bay Area (West – San Mateo; East – Union City)
What are some memorable projects you have worked on during your time at UC Merced?
I was originally enrolled in Fall of 2010. At that time Lamar Williams was our Associated Students of UC Merced (ASUCM) president. I joined his cabinet and helped produce the campus’s first diversity event, which showcased UC Merced as a culturally aware and diverse integration of students. Food, music, ethnic themes were the focus to highlight cultures students may encounter, but not be aware of because of their own backgrounds.
The other is my state park stewardship through the Yosemite Leadership Program (YLP). The focus was service of any kind to a state park near us. We were each given gas money, gloves and trash bags and told to document our experiences and enjoy our time outdoors. We were also asked to have some self-care and reflection time after the project was completed. Lastly, were we asked to use an app to participate in a bird-identification project through a university tracking the birds across the United States. I anticipated a two-hour visit, but I stayed four or five hours, doing all the tasks and having fun with my two pups. I see the value of being outdoors as a holistic ritual and learning more about how what you encounter is not just reflective, but also scientific. Outdoors, you learn solid principles that can help lead your life and guide your educational advancements.
What did you learn personally and academically by participating in these experiences?
Personally, what I have taken from both experiences is that education is a lifelong self-work project. Being a reinstated student, during the second time around, it has been crucial for me to ask more of myself and work at the goals I had set some time ago. I have been a part of UC Merced in its infancy and building, and during its time of crisis in this pandemic. One thing that has not changed is the community support the university offers to students who want to succeed.
UC Merced has a lot of opportunities for experiential learning. What would you say to a future student who wants to be involved?
Well, I would say get involved! Use what you are good at or interested in and start there. That’s how I made my path. Also, an educational career is a lifelong road to diverse and interesting work. I have personally used the SONA program — the research-study survey program in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts — and participated in every survey I was eligible for. I joined ASUCM. I maintained my membership in YLP. I immersed myself in as much of the campus as I could to see what opportunities arose and where my accomplishments could lead me.