onward and upward
Four from the class of 2022 reflect on the end of college and moving on to new adventures.
The final year of college in a student’s life is full of new opportunities — from applying to competitive internships and interviewing for jobs to adjusting to life without school or attending graduate school. Here, student intern Abril Cuarenta speaks with four UC Davis students from the class of 2022 who share their experiences navigating these exciting and uncertain changes while also making post-graduation plans.
Fall quarter of her senior year tested Lauren Andrews in her ability to balance her studies and her personal life. “Prioritizing my mental health was really important since I found that I needed to be in a healthy mindset in order for me to accomplish my goals,” she said. “This is the first year that I’ve fully understood what it means to handle college and adulthood.”
Andrews said that she had gotten accustomed to remote learning during the pandemic, so upon returning to in-person classes, she had to focus on finding a good balance between her academics and her extracurricular activities.
She added that this past winter quarter solidified her decision to major in biochemistry. “I think it’s so fascinating being able to understand how certain elements work together to make up the rest of the world.”
At the peak of the pandemic she worked as an intern alongside Healthy Davis Together, where her responsibilities were to come up with activities for the community to partake in during the quarantine period and strategies to limit the spread of the virus. She was also a part of the student-run R.I.V.E.R. Pediatric Clinic at UC Davis, a program that has given her clinical experience that will help her build the skills that she needs in order to fulfill her dream of becoming a pediatrician.
“I’ve been working alongside kids since I was 14 and I just love being around them. I believe that it’s important to ensure their mental, physical and emotional well-being, since children’s experiences have an impact on the rest of their lives,” said Andrews.
She still works with R.I.V.E.R. and has recently started working in Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine Thomas Jue’s research lab on campus. The lab has been researching how to improve kidney disease through exercise implementation and if there is a link between autism and diabetes.
“One of the things I’m the most proud of would be working for the mobile pediatric clinic that is now actively running. I’m very pleased with our progress and now we’re planning on implementing an ophthalmology program for students that offers them free glasses,” said Andrews.
Having taken her MCAT her junior year, she has decided to take a gap year after graduation and will work full time as a behavioral therapist with children with autism. She will be applying to as many medical schools as she can, in and out of state. One of her other goals after graduation is to become a medical scribe for an emergency room.
When she isn’t busy studying or working, Andrews enjoys doing anything that involves water.
“I’m just a water person — I like to surf, swim, and scuba dive. Last year I hit 100 meters scuba diving and this year I want to hit another 100 meters. I got to see a hydrogen sulfur cloud; that was the coolest thing. It’s an experience that’s so rare; being able to see depths of the ocean no one else has seen before is truly mesmerizing.”
Major: Political science and Chicano studies with a minor in Portuguese
Laney Martinez has been studying for the LSAT, has participated in one successful internship, and started her own business — all within the span of her senior year.
“I’ve already registered for my LSAT and I’ve been studying for it. It’s scary but really exciting.”
This spring quarter she has been busy applying to local government jobs in hopes of getting more experience in the field of public service. Already she has heard back from one job and was offered a full time position.
In fall quarter she interned for Sacramento City Councilmember Rick Jennings. This opportunity allowed her to attend council meetings and provide the Sacramento community with resources for COVID-19. The experience gave Martinez insight into the career that she’ll pursue in the future. Her goal is to attend law school to represent California as governor, and eventually join the Supreme Court down the line.
After graduation, she said she plans to take a gap year and get a full-time job working in local government. She will also apply to law schools in California and Washington.
Originally, Martinez said she wanted to be a veterinarian, but she found her true passion was law and advocating for people. She decided to pursue a political science major with an emphasis in public service as well as a Chicano studies major.
“I’ve witnessed the power of advocacy through my family. Growing up, I attended community events with my mother who worked in the education system advocating for people of color. Seeing the injustices my community faced and others faced sparked an interest in me to pursue law so that I could make a difference as well.”
After participating in an internship her junior year where she assisted Portuguese speakers learning English, she was inspired to travel to Portugal this summer by herself. “I want to get hands-on experience with the language and culture,” said Martinez.
Martinez has been working toward her goals since her freshman year and has had many successes as well as challenges. This past year she faced financial hardships due to COVID-19. However, instead of filing for unemployment, Martinez decided to start her own food business with one of her sorority sisters. “My grandma always told me that I was a great cook. So I decided to sell food and share with my community the love and authenticity that goes into cooking.” Her business, “Las Chicalis,” will continue selling homemade dishes until the end of the year, offering a variety of meals.
Major: Electrical engineering
Entering his senior year, Gauruv Virk knew he would have his work cut out for him. He would be busy with his fourth Intel internship — working up to 40 hours a week, while still attending school as a full-time student and working on his rigorous senior project.
As an electrical engineering student, he worked on a senior project. His group designed a rover with solar panels. The project was presented to professors. “This project allowed me to see the conceptual material learned from my courses actually be translated into a working machine,” said Virk.
Before he graduated in the winter, he obtained a full-time position as a technical marketing engineer with Intel. “There’s still stress for me now that I’m in the workforce, but it’s been easier knowing that work stays at work, whereas school feels like it’s 24/7,” he said.
Throughout his last months at Davis, he also managed a successful YouTube channel, which focused on UC Davis content and his own personal interests.
“I actually got to sit down with Chancellor May and interview him at the Mondavi Center and upload it to my channel. That was really a highlight of my year,” he said.
Now, he is taking a much-needed break to readjust and prepare before he starts his new job. He plans to go camping with his close friend and will continue making YouTube videos about his life experiences.
“I think one of the hardest things about being a senior is that there’s this finality to everything,” he said. “But I’ve been told that with every ending, there is a new beginning.”
Major: Clinical nutrition
In her fifth and final year at UC Davis, Elisha Aispuro is ready to move onto the next phase in her life. Working three different jobs, she was still able to set aside time to apply for a dietetic internship, which is required to obtain her dietitian license. Having been accepted into the program, she is getting ready to move to Nevada this summer.
As a nutrition counselor at the ARC, Aispuro has used the skills she learned from her mentors to continue her education in the field of nutrition. “This job has helped me gain the knowledge that is needed to understand each person’s unique relationship to their diet and how I can offer them proper consultation,” said Aispuro.
She said her long-term goal is to get her dietitian license and work in a hospital in her hometown of Los Angeles, adding that she’d like to work with Spanish-speaking individuals who are affected by diabetes.
Upon coming to UC Davis, she knew that a clinical nutrition major would be a good fit. Aispuro recalled that her passion for nutrition started when she decided to become a vegetarian when she was younger. The positive effects that came with changing her diet motivated her to pursue a life of healthiness and encourage others to do the same.
“I faced plenty of challenges this final year. One major one was getting into my internship. There were times I had to put sleep off, decline invitations from friends to go out. It was a lot, but being able to find the strength to push through is something that I am extremely proud of,” she said.
In her free time, Aispuro enjoys physical activity such as hiking and exercising, as well as going to Trader Joe’s to see the newest items. “I’m still busy planning the rest of my senior year and making arrangements for post-graduation. I got so used to living in a fast-paced environment throughout my college years, and now things feel like they’re slow but also fast. It’s a daunting change,” said Aispuro.
“I hope that upon leaving Davis, people will remember me as someone who always tried making the most out of situations. I love being a cheery person and I always try to bring positivity to anyone around me,” said Aispuro.