Stories From A Historic Class

For the first time in the University of California (UC) system’s history, Chicano or Latino students made up the greatest share of Californians admitted to the freshman class, at 36%.

As part of its “California Today” column, The New York Times profiled four members of this historic freshman class — discussing being part of a major shift in UC system and about starting college during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And two of those featured students are Summer Searchers — Mariana and Dora from the Bay Area!

Screenshots of two Summer Searchers featured in The New York Times.

Mariana Benitez-Arreola

Mariana Benitez-Arreola

In part one of the two-part series, Mariana shared how eager she is to begin her college career at UC Santa Barbara, whether in person or online.

“I’m the type of person who plans heavily for the future,” she said. College, she said, has been her “aim since Day 1.”

At UCSB, Mariana plans to study Sociology, with a focus on Chicanx studies, and to prepare for a career in journalism. Despite the uncertainty of what her first year of college will bring, she’s looking at the entire situation from a broader perspective.

“I don’t know how things are going to go down in the history books,” she said. She’s ready to find out.

Finally, Mariana, who grew up in San Jose, mentioned in the article how she was tantalized by “glimpses at different worlds.”

We are grateful to share that she definitely got much more than a glimpse on her two Summer Search experiences — exploring the northern Bay Area wilderness with Environmental Traveling Companions and doing international service work in the Dominican Republic with Global Glimpse!

Dora Tobar

Dora Tobar (third from right) and her family.

In part two of this New York Times series, Dora and her older brother Erick talked about their family’s journey from Guatemala to the Bay Area following the tragic killing of their father.

Dora also shared how she was inspired by her older siblings to pursue higher education and opportunities to volunteer and travel. In fact, the article even references her two Summer Search trips!

In high school, Ms. Tobar visited Arizona for a solo backpacking trip and helped build houses in the Dominican Republic.

Dora’s Arizona backpacking trip was an 18-day program with DEVA Healing Center during the summer after her sophomore year. The following summer, she traveled to the Dominican Republic on an international service program with Global Leadership Adventures and 7 Elements.

Summer Search students on their way to the Dominican Republic in 2019. Dora is in the front row, second from the right.

Looking ahead to her future, Dora explained how she chose San Francisco State University because she wants to pursue a major in Criminal Justice.

“As a Latina, I want to show women they can also work as a police officer,” she saidShe was inspired, she said, in part by the loss of her father.

We want to extend our deepest gratitude to Mariana and Dora for sharing their stories, for graduating, and for embracing an uncertain future head-on! Leave a comment to wish them luck, as well as the rest of the Summer Search Class of 2020!

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