In Their Words: Eric Medina

May 18, 2017

Name: Eric Medina

College: Kresge

Department: Latin American Latino Studies and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (double major)

What award/scholarship did you receive? Walsh Family Scholarship

What year do you expect to graduate (e.g. 2017)? Spring 2018

Where do you call home? I would call Fort Bragg, California home. It is in Mendocino county roughly 5 hours north of Santa Cruz. It is a beautiful little town along the coast, and where I spent my whole life before moving away for college. I think it’s safe to say that Santa Cruz is also a home for me. I don’t have family near by, but in my time here I have cultivated a wonderful community.

With all of the choices for college, what made UC Santa Cruz stand out? I think that I knew I wanted to come to UCSC before even coming up to campus. I remember being with my family and parking along Westcliff after a long drive. We stood and watched the ocean as smiley people zoomed by on their bikes. It felt similar to my hometown, but with much more potential. Once coming up to UCSC I felt inspired by all of the wildlife that weaves in-between buildings. It felt like this school was one that would foster a healthy environment to learn and grow in.

What is your field of focus? I am double majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology and latin american and latino studies. I am most interested in where these two fields intersect. For me this intersection happens when trying to understand access to health for Latinx communities in all its facets such as diet, recreation, and mental health.

What do you hope to do once you graduate from UC Santa Cruz? After graduating from UCSC I hope to spend a little bit of time working as an outdoor educator. I am currently beginning to look into graduate programs that I hope to apply to after a few years out of undergrad. I still do not know any specific programs that interest me.

What is one memorable moment that stands out for you as a student here? A memorable moment for me was my first year at UCSC when I rushed in late to an introductory ecology course gasping and sweating. I sat down and quickly recounted my morning. I had, had a surfing lesson at the break of dawn, my internship digging away at the Kresge Garden, and just 10 minutes after I was sitting in a lecture hall. It was when I realized that UCSC was fostering the funnest education I had ever had.

What is your one piece of advice for incoming students about life at UC Santa Cruz? I recently read a piece by Audre Lorde called “Poetry is not a luxury.” This quote is taken out of context, and to fully understand it I encourage anyone to read the entire passage, but I think this quote sums up a lot of what she is trying to say: “For within structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive. Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes, feelings were meant to kneel to thought as women were meant to kneel to men. But women have survived. As poets. And there are no new pains. We have felt them all already. We have hidden that fact in the same place where we have hidden our power. They lie in our dreams, and it is our dreams that point the way to freedom. They are made realizable through our poems that give us the strength and courage to see, to feel, to speak, and to dare.” The reason I mention this quote is because I think in academia it is all too common for thought and explanation to discount very real and legitimate feelings that students experience, and haven't had the space to formalize into words. So my advice is to pay attention to gut feelings good or bad, and follow through with them because they are important also.

How will this scholarship impact your academic life/research? This scholarship will of course help me financially cover educational opportunities for the next year when I will be doing things like working in a lab abroad, and taking a field ecology course in Costa Rica. However, I think that this scholarship really means more than that. It as an affirmation of the work I am doing, and it is this support that pushes me a lot further than simply financial support.