In Their Words: Alyssa Tamboura

alyssa-tamboura-zimmerman.jpgName: Alyssa Tamboura

College: 10

Department: Legal Studies

What Award/Scholarship did you receive? The 2019 Gabriel Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship.

What year do you expect to graduate? Spring 2021.

Where do you call home? San Jose, California.

With all of the choices for college, what made UC Santa Cruz stand out? UC Santa Cruz is a special place. I’m a transfer and re-entry student. I am also a student parent; my son Christopher is 8-years-old. Although it is not the most diverse, Santa Cruz truly has a welcoming and supportive community. Family Student Housing and Early Education Services have been instrumental in helping Christopher and I feel at home. Bonding with other student parents and having access to resources such as subsidized child care and family friendly events have made my educational experience here so fulfilling. The university does have plans to shift child care from a government-funded program to a private company, but I hope they reconsider because the implications for low-income, student parents of color such as myself in our community are huge. UC Santa Cruz prides itself on being a world-class research university with a commitment to society and success of students. I’m proud to be a banana slug and I’m positive my university will commit to actions that reflect its values when it comes to this issue. That’s what makes it stand out from other institutions.

What is your field of focus? I am a Legal Studies major. My interests are focused on the impact of familial incarceration on children of incarcerated parents as well as building programs to mitigate the trauma inflicted by the criminal justice system. I’m currently launching Walls to Bridges – the project is focused on fostering family communication during and after incarceration through confidential dialogues using restorative justice principles and practices.

What do you hope to do once you graduate from UC Santa Cruz? I plan on attending law school directly after I complete my undergraduate education. I plan on pursuing a career in criminal justice reform, specifically advocating for the rights of families affected by mass incarceration. Parents who are in prison and jail have a human right to have contact with their families especially their children, and there is a lot of work to do in making sure that those rights are recognized, honored and supported. This work is near and dear to my heart as I am an adult child of a formerly incarcerated individual.

What is one memorable moment that stands out for you as a student here? I am a sophomore-transfer student. And as part of my transition to UC Santa Cruz I attended Black Academy, a week long summer program aimed at orienting ABC identified students to campus life. It was a powerful experience that helped me foster a sense of belonging here. UC Santa Cruz has black student population of only 3%, and it was incredibly meaningful to build positive relationships with black students, staff and faculty. I am now a mentor for the 2019 Black Academy program, and I’m looking forward to welcoming the new cohort of black students to campus this upcoming summer.

What is your one piece of advice for incoming students about life at UC Santa Cruz? Get. Comfortable. Walking. Shoes. This campus is gorgeous. However, it is also 2,000 acres. Take advantage of the environment and enjoy it as much as possible. Walk to class! Go for hikes on the weekends. Balancing academic, work and social obligations can be challenging, so it’s important to get fresh air and take some time for yourself. Being in college is an exciting time. Figure out who you are, what you like, and what is important to you. Live your best life and do it unapologetically.

How will this scholarship impact your academic life/research? This scholarship will help fund another year here at UC Santa Cruz! I will use it for the cost of attendance for the next school year as well as to register to take the Law School Admissions Test a couple more times. I am the first in my family to attend college and I would not be on this amazing journey of self-discovery, growth and commitment to public service if I did not have people helping me and cheering me on along the way. I’m incredibly honored and grateful to have received this award in honor of Gabe Zimmerman.

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