In Their Words: Vanessa Orozco

vanessa-orozco-keeley.jpgName: Vanessa Orozco

College: Oakes College

Department: Marine Biology and Environmental Studies

What Award/Scholarship did you receive? 2019 Keeley Coastal Scholarship

What year do you expect to graduate? 2020

Where do you call home? Santa Cruz is now my home but my hometown is La Puente, California.

With all of the choices for college, what made UC Santa Cruz stand out? The summer after 7th grade I attended a summer camp here at UCSC for Marine Biology-Camp SEA Lab. The camp taught us about the importance of protecting and preserving the ocean. The program also allowed me to explore marine biology, environmentalism, and the campus. I instantly fell in love with all three and knew this is where I wanted to be. There are so many opportunities in this area for oceanic studies, making UCSC the perfect place for me; and whenever I need a break from being underwater the forest is the best place to take a break and clear my head. In both research and environment, no other campus can compare to UCSC’s for me.

What is your field of focus? Ocean Conservation and Management

What do you hope to do once you graduate from UC Santa Cruz? I want to work in in water conservation and restoration. My main goal is to find a way to connect this with my AAUS Scientific Diving certification, in an effort to advocate for more and stronger protection of ocean ecosystems.

What is one memorable moment that stands out for you as a student here? Coming back to Santa Cruz after a field quarter in Corsica, France. I knew that I considered Santa Cruz my home but I didn’t realize how much I loved it until I had to be away for two months. The field quarter changed my life and helped reinforce my love for the ocean and oceanic studies while reminding me how grateful I am for UCSC and all the wonderful opportunities it has for students.

What is your one piece of advice for incoming students about life at UC Santa Cruz? It’s okay to fail. Don’t be discouraged by letter grades, they don’t define you or your understanding of material. As long as you take everything as a lesson and work towards bettering yourself, you’ll always end up where you need to be. Especially if you’re a first generation student, if and when you hit a roadblock, you’re going to feel like all odds are against you. Don’t give up because you can do it and you might be paving the way for others.

How will this scholarship impact your academic life/research? Without this scholarship I would not have been able to conduct research at all this summer due to financial constraints. The scholarship will allow me to be able to work on a project, giving me valuable research experience on an important fishery conservation topic. As well as gaining skills in field work, writing, and statistical analysis that will prepare me for my graduate and career goals.

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