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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Winter 2015
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer:
Shawn Warner-Garcia
Mon: 10 a.m. to noon
Wed: 10 a.m. to noon
Fri: 10 a.m. to noon

Diversity & Outreach Peer:

Funding Peer:
Kyle Crocco
Tue: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Writing Peer:
Ryan Dippre
Mon: 1:30 to 4 p.m.
Tue: 9 to 11 a.m., 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Wed: 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Communications Peer:
Melissa Rapp
Mon: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thu: 1 to 3 p.m.

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.


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Important Message from GSA President on Graduate Student Housing Proposal

The Santa Ynez housing complex.

Dear Graduate Students,

I have a very exciting announcement regarding a proposal that would change the future of graduate student housing at UCSB. Concern has grown over the past few years regarding the prohibitively high cost of housing for graduate students and the fact that San Clemente is no longer an exclusively graduate student community.

GSA President Zach Rentz at 2014 New Graduate Student Orientation.In response, I have been working closely with administration officials, and we have come up with an exciting potential solution to this very serious problem. The proposal is that we move the graduate student community from San Clemente to Santa Ynez, which will be reserved exclusively for graduate students. To be very clear, this is only a proposal and there would not be any changes in the 2015–2016 academic year. Numerous alternatives were extensively explored, including the possibility of decreasing rent in San Clemente or having the University subsidize graduate student housing, and those alternatives unfortunately were not feasible. This proposed solution seems like it is the most realistically implementable plan, which will yield the greatest benefit to the graduate student body.

In the near future, I will be sending out a survey to all graduate students so you can personally voice your support, ask any questions, and raise your concerns. A move like this simply cannot and should not be made without your input, and we want to hear what you think.

 Making this move will yield numerous benefits:

  • While San Clemente's apartments are currently priced at approximately 20% above market rates, rooms in Santa Ynez will be approximately 20% below market. The precise numbers have not yet been worked out, but essentially, rent for the rooms in Santa Ynez will be substantially less than rent in San Clemente.
  • We are exploring the possibility of offering both single rooms and double rooms. If living in a double room, your rent would drop even farther below market.
  • Making Santa Ynez a community solely consisting of graduate students will lead to the creation of a living environment that is more conducive to scholarship, academic exchange, and social engagement.
  • As part of the current proposal, grad students would still be able to live in San Clemente if they want to. The crux of this proposal is that Santa Ynez would be reserved for graduate students at substantially lower rates than are available in San Clemente.

I will be sharing more information with you as it becomes available. I am sure you have lots of questions, and there are definitely many details that are still being worked out. Nevertheless, I thought it was time to share this very exciting news with you!

This opportunity to improve graduate student life could not have been possible without the very hard work of Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti; Assistant Dean Christian Villasenor; Willie Brown, Executive Director of Housing and Residential Services; and Martin Shumaker, CFO of Housing and Residential Services. I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the graduate student body and myself, to thank them for the considerable amount of time that each of them has spent on this matter. We are grateful to each of you.

Again, I am sure that many of you have questions about this, but please be patient and as more information becomes available, I will share it with you immediately.

In the meantime, I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Zachary I. Rentz
Graduate Students Association
University of California, Santa Barbara


Investor Christian Felipe Gives $1 Million Gift to UCSB's Technology Management Program

Christian Felipe. Credit: Spencer Bruttig, Office of Public Affairs and CommunicationsInvestor Christian Felipe has given a $1 million endowment to UCSB’s Technology Management Program in support of the new Master’s degree in Technology Management. The money will establish a new endowed professorship for the emerging program, which has been designed to catapult engineers and scientists toward becoming leaders of technology ventures. Felipe hopes the new chair will enable TMP to attract a top senior faculty recruit.

In an Office of Public Affairs and Communications (OPAC) news release, Felipe said, "Knowing that a lot of technology students don’t have all the business knowledge, I thought it was a great opportunity to create future entrepreneurs and technology leaders by supporting the Technology Management Program."

For more information on the endowment, read the OPAC release.

“Knowing that a lot of technology students don’t have all the business knowledge, I thought it was a great opportunity to create future entrepreneurs and technology leaders by supporting the Technology Management Program,” Felipe said of his endowment. - See more at:

The Doctor Is In: November 2014 Edition

Source image credit: statue-of-libertyWelcome to the inaugural edition of The Doctor Is In, a recurring column on The GradPost where UCSB faculty answer graduate students' questions about life in academia. In this installment, three members of our outstanding faculty panel answer your questions about balancing competing priorities, the hardest part about writing a dissertation, and bouncing back from setbacks and disappointments.

About Our Faculty Panel

Miroslava Chavez-GarciaDr. Miroslava Chávez-García is Professor and Vice-Chair of the Chicana & Chicano Studies Department at UCSB. She received her Ph.D. in History from UCLA and is the author of the book "States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System" as well as articles on gender, patriarchy, and the law in 19th century California. She organizes and leads professional development workshops for UCSB and the Ford Foundation and is particularly passionate about helping scholars of color navigate academia.

Merith CosdenDr. Merith Cosden is a Professor and Interim Dean of the Givertz Graduate School of Education at UCSB. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of New Mexico and conducts research on drug courts and intervention for individuals with substance abuse and mental health problems in the criminal justice system. She is a recipient of the UCSB Graduate Mentor Award and the Santa Barbara Psychological Association Legacy Award.

Aaron EttenbergDr. Aaron Ettenberg is a Professor in the Psychological & Brain Sciences Department at UCSB. He received his Ph.D. in Psychopharmacology from McGill University and conducts research on the neurobiology of reinforcement and motivation with particular interest in the neural basis of drug abuse. He is a recipient of the UCSB Distinguished Teaching Award and the UCSB Graduate Mentor Award.



Q: How can one balance professional and/or creative pursuits along with graduate coursework and research?

Dr. Ettenberg: Graduate students work hard, there’s no question about that! However, most graduate students have no sense of how much heavier the workload will be if they succeed and get a job in the private or academic sector post-graduation. So if you think you are working hard now as a graduate student, you should know that the load gets only heavier and the hill significantly steeper as you begin life in the “real” world after UCSB.

All that simply means that there’s no better time than now, when you are still in graduate school, to learn how to successfully juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities – indeed, your success in learning to presently meet this challenge will make your path far easier down the road. So what to do? How to begin? You could actually hire a career coach or consultant (for a considerable fee); this is someone who gets paid to help executives handle time management challenges. But here’s a sneak peak at their approach – and with no payment required!

First, you have to sit down with a pen and paper and calendar and identify the various tasks and responsibilities that are on your desk, including upcoming items that you know will soon arrive on that desk. Literally mark down what needs to be accomplished over the next week or month or quarter. Get organized! Then, identify realistic deadlines by which each task needs to be completed. Finally, look at your schedule and – again realistically – allocate time in your day or week or month for successfully meeting each deadline. Then stick to your plan!

In my own personal experience, you can no longer afford to simply deal with just one thing at a time; there are simply too many things that require your attention. If you are the kind of person that leaves everything to the last moment, then you will eventually begin dropping the ball and letting things pile up and inevitably fall through the cracks (pick your metaphor). Yes, it will seem strange and a bit of a pain at the start, but once you get into the habit of successfully organizing and managing your time, of looking ahead and planning for what’s to come and not just what’s directly in front of you, then you will find that you are not only accomplishing more and being more efficient, but remarkably you will also find that you have actually freed up more time for activities that you want to do and not just have to do.

Dr. Cosden: My advice is twofold. First, tell yourself that graduate school is not a normal time in your life; it is five or six years devoted to your training. Thus, you may not have as much time as you would like or that you will have in the future for other activities. Second, do spend time with friends, especially those that understand your pressures and availabilities. Make fellow students your friends and not your competitors, and you will have them now and for years to come. For the important people in your life who are not students, help them understand what it means to be on a strange quarter schedule. Enjoy time with them when it fits the quarter, and work harder when you have obligations and deadlines without feeling stressed or getting behind in your work.  

Q: What was the biggest hurdle you faced writing your dissertation and how did you overcome it?

Dr. Chávez-García: That’s an easy answer – writing. In graduate school, writing was extremely difficult for me because I came to it with weak writing skills. As an immigrant and native Spanish-speaker from a low-income, working class background, I was far removed from writing intelligently, much less academically. And, even though I attended a prestigious public undergraduate institution, I received little one-on-one instruction. I simply fell through the cracks, as many do in the 30,000+ student body populations.

When I got to graduate school, little did I know that my writing was indeed poor. Fortunately, a professor suggested I take a basic course at a community college, a suggestion that alerted me to the gravity of the situation. I was even more fortunate in my third year of graduate school when my advisor took me under his wing and taught me nearly everything I needed to know about writing. It was a painful process, but writing well enough to be understood by a general audience was (and remains) a priceless gift.

As an Assistant Professor, I improved my writing by strengthening the mechanics of the process, enabling me to publish a first book. It was not until I was an Associate Professor working on a second book that I developed a style that allowed me to engage a wider audience. And, I must admit, I actually enjoyed the process, even though it was difficult. But before I began writing, I made up my mind that I wanted “regular” people – not just academics – to read my book. To learn new writing techniques, I read many books (mostly historical fiction) by authors I sought to emulate as well as books and journals on the process of scholarly and popular writing. I even joined Writer’s Digest. Through that process, I produced a study that I know has been read by more people than the first. I hope to make my new project – a family history – even more widely accessible.

Today, I continue to polish my writing by attending writing workshops, circulating preliminary work to colleagues, and submitting articles to journals for publication. And, I would add, writing for blogs and similar online spaces also enhances the fluidity that should (but often does not) come with writing. Rejection notices – while painful (I’ve learned to contain the pain, something you’ll learn over the years) – provide a useful opportunity to expand your lexicon and style. I also recommend organizing or participating in peer-based writing groups, which I only recently attended since graduate school, and found it immensely energizing and rewarding. Writing is a lonely and difficult process and, as I often say, the main reason why people don’t finish their Ph.Ds. and why associate professors don’t advance to full professors, but you can find ways to change that without heading down an abyss.

Dr. Ettenberg: This one is simple – the biggest hurdle I faced in writing my dissertation was Time – and more specifically, my inadequate estimation of how much time would be required to complete the task. And I can honestly tell you that in my 32 years of mentoring graduate students here at UCSB, that hurdle is as relevant today as it was back in the Pleistocene Age when I was writing my own dissertation in 1980. Truly every one of the 16 doctoral students that I have mentored during my tenure here has underestimated (admittedly to varying degrees) the amount of time it took to complete the writing of their dissertation. The need for multiple drafts, incorporating the comments of one’s advisor and committee members, the time it takes to check references, footnotes and citations, of ensuring that the document is carefully edited for grammatical and spelling errors, etc. is well in excess of what you will think it will take to complete these tasks.

And of course the driving force here cannot be a campus deadline for dissertation submission – you, the student, need to make certain that you give yourself (and your committee) sufficient time to read, evaluate and edit the document before it is ready for final submission.  The argument that “the committee has to read this by next week or I won't be able to graduate at the end of fall quarter” is, quite frankly, not the committee’s problem, it is the student’s problem. So give yourself ample time to complete the component tasks required for dissertation submission, and then double that number and you will better approximate how long it will actually take. (And no, I am not kidding!)

Now of course the time required to write a dissertation does vary by discipline and by graduate student within each discipline, so the best advice I can give you is to sit down with your advisor and identify a realistic timetable for the various steps that you will need to take in order to accomplish your goal. You can start with a campus submission deadline and then work backward…. how long does the committee need to read the thesis, how long will you need to complete changes/edits required by the committee, how long will it take to complete the first draft of each chapter, etc. Then take your timeline and run it by your advisor for a reality check. And then take his/her advice about any changes (usually lengthening) to your proposed timeline. Your advisor has much more experience about such matters than you do! Do not fool yourself into thinking that if you lock yourself in a room and work through without resting that you will be able to complete this in less time than your advisor proposes – you won’t! And if by some chance you will, then it is highly likely that the quality of your product will not be up to the standards that your advisor, the committee, or even yourself would like to see.

Q: How do you recommend bouncing back from a setback or disappointment in graduate school (such as taking an incomplete in a class, failing to get published or accepted to a conference, or missing a milestone deadline)?

Dr. Cosden: Evaluation is not just part of a graduate student’s plight. As faculty members, we are often evaluated professionally – in terms of our publications, presentations, teaching, and promotions. Thus, learning to deal with negative feedback is important for one’s long-term career. When receiving a negative review of one’s research or failure to get a paper accepted, my recommendation is to be sad and angry for a while and then to see how the feedback makes sense. We tend to get so close to our work that we are not able to evaluate it effectively ourselves. It is sometimes the case that we do not express our ideas as clearly as needed. A lot of the feedback we receive is useful, and the rest you can ignore.

Taking an incomplete or missing a milestone represent a different type of setback. One of the hardest things for graduate students to learn is how to organize their time and establish realistic goals. In my experience, almost all graduate students underestimate the time required for their dissertations. You need to give yourself enough time to accomplish each task. This means devoting the time needed to your graduate student requirements as well as setting realistic timelines for your work.

Got a question for our expert panel? Submit your query to Shawn Warner-Garcia, the Graduate Division’s Professional Development Peer Advisor.


Graduate Division Seeks Diversity and Outreach Peer for 2014-15 

The UCSB Graduate Division is currently accepting applications for its Diversity and Outreach Graduate Peer Advisor position for the 2014-15 academic year. This position may be extended.

The Diversity and Outreach Peer Advisor assists in the development and implementation of various outreach and recruitment program events which are designed to cultivate a highly qualified and diverse pool of graduate school applicants. The Diversity and Outreach Peer Advisor also assists in fostering and maintaining an environment at UCSB that values and supports diversity. Specific responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Provide advice and assistance to current and prospective graduate students.
  • Manage prospective individual student and university program visits (i.e. McNair Scholars Program)
  • Give department specific presentations on UCSB resources.
  • Provide administrative support and student mentoring for The California Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education (Hosted by UCSB, Fall 2015), and Graduate Division sponsored summer undergraduate research programs: the Academic Research Consortium, CSU Sally Casanova program, and UC LEADS.
  • Facilitate graduate school preparation workshops for undergraduates interested in pursuing graduate study at UCSB.
  • Compile surveys, data, and program information.
  • Contribute articles and announcements to the Graduate Post on diversity and outreach related themes, as well as more general topics related to graduate education.
  • Develop programming for current graduate students that promotes and supports diversity.
  • Assist with campus-wide events and programming, including the Graduate Student Showcase and New Student Orientation.

The Diversity and Outreach Peer Advisor also holds drop-in office hours at the Graduate Student Resource Center (GSRC) and works collaboratively with other peer advisors on workshops and events sponsored through the GSRC. The Peer Advisor responds to student requests for information or assistance and makes referrals as needed.


PAYMENT: $16 per hour, plus fee payment equivalent to at least a 25% TA-ship

HOURS: 10 to 16 hours weekly (25%-40% appointment) during the academic year

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 14, 2014

Minimum qualifications:

  • Has completed at least one year of graduate study at UCSB, is in good academic standing, is within university time-to-degree standards, and meets all other standard student employment eligibility requirements.
  • Is energetic, demonstrates organizational abilities, knowledgeable about the UCSB campus, and has good communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Can represent graduate student interests and concerns, and is attentive to the goals of excellence and diversity in UCSB’s graduate education.
  • Knowledge of and interest in social media as a service to the graduate student population.

Previous experience in advising, Microsoft Excel software, and workshop or conference planning is preferred, although training will be provided.

Additional Benefits: With the appropriate eligibility and approval, position(s) may be combined with a GSR or TA position, as long as the combined hours do not exceed a 75% appointment. Graduate Division will pay partial fees and graduate student health insurance equivalent to those provided for TAs if other student academic appointments or awards do not provide these fees.

Application Process: Interested applicants should submit a cover letter indicating interests and highlighting related experiences, along with a formal resume via email to Walter Boggan ( in the Graduate Division.


Coming Soon to The GradPost: 'The Doctor Is In' Advice Column

Source image credit: statue-of-libertyThe GradPost has written extensively about the importance of mentoring relationships in graduate school. Indeed, over the last decade or so, it has become something of a buzzword in many other higher education venues as well. 

In an effort to support and expand mentoring at UCSB, we are launching a new recurring column on The GradPost called "The Doctor Is In." Several times each quarter, a panel of UCSB faculty members across a variety of disciplines will answer graduate students' questions about topics such as research, work-life balance, careers in academia, and much more.

We are very excited about this new column, and we invite graduate students to submit their questions via Shawn Warner-Garcia, Graduate Division’s Professional Development Peer Advisor.


Warren Buffett Business Partner Charles Munger Donates $65 Million for KITP Facility, Largest Single Gift in UCSB History

The three-story, 61-bed KITP Residence is expected to take two years to build. Credit: Courtesy of Murray Duncan Architects

Charles Munger has called physics “vitally important” with “collateral benefits” for all. The longtime business partner of Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway considers it so important that he has Charles Munger. Credit: AP Imagesdonated $65 million to fund a new visitor housing facility for the UCSB-based Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). The donation to assist the world-renowned institute is the largest single gift in UC Santa Barbara’s history.

The Towbes Group Inc. will start construction of the KITP Residence this month, and the project is expected to take two years. The three-story, 61-bed facility will provide housing for visitors to the institute, which attracts scientists from around the globe who stay for weeks at a time.

In a UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications (OPAC) news release, Chancellor Henry T. Yang said: “The Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics has been hosting thousands of the world’s top scientists since 1979. It is being emulated by numerous universities and is the envy of the physics community all over the world. We are absolutely thrilled and honored that through Charlie’s vision, unbelievable generosity, his love of physics, and his unique architectural and engineering genius and passion, we have been gifted such an unimaginable guesthouse for the visitors of KITP to enjoy and to enable them to continue their groundbreaking research at the endless frontier of physics.”

Theoretical astrophysicist Lars Bildsten, director of KITP and Gluck Professor of TheoreticalKITP Director Lars Bildsten Physics at UCSB, says the new facility will likely increase important scientific work. “KITP’s mission is to bring together the world’s leading scientists to collaborate on the most challenging and exciting questions in theoretical physics and related fields,” he said in the OPAC release. “Our visitors now spend their day in Kohn Hall, the center of interactions, but once the Residence is complete they will continue those interactions into the nights and weekends. I’m confident we will see an increased number of collaborations and scientific progress.”

Munger, 90, has frequently made large donations to schools, including Stanford University, Harvard-Westlake School in the Los Angeles area, and his alma mater, the University of Michigan. One of his grandsons is an alumnus of UCSB.

“Physics has enormously helped me in life — the logic and power of it,” Munger said in the OPAC news release. “Once you see what a combination of calculus and Newton’s laws will do and the things you can work out, you get an awesome appreciation for the power of getting things in science right. It has collateral benefits for people. And I don’t think you get a feeling for the power of science – not with the same strength – anywhere else than you do in physics.”

For more information, read the OPAC news release and a New York Times news article.


Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Eva Wheeler Follows Her 'New Plan for Happily Ever After'

Eva Wheeler is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her dissertation research centers on racial terms in the Dominican Republic. At right, she takes a break from her studies by ziplining in the Dominican Republic in February 2014.

Eva Wheeler is a woman of many passions and pursuits. In 2010, she left a career as a commercial litigation lawyer to return to graduate school and study Iberian Linguistics at UCSB. Now, as a 5th-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, she is following "a new plan for happily ever after" and hopes to complete her dissertation by Spring 2015.

Eva earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Professional Writing from Oakwood University, as well as a Juris Doctor law degree from New York University. She has lived all over the United States – including California, Texas, North Carolina, and Alabama – and has traveled all over the world to locales in Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean. She also speaks six languages with various levels of fluency.

Oh, and did we mention that she can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 1 minute and 8 seconds? Read on to find out more about the fascinating life of Eva Wheeler.

Tell us a little about your research and how you came to choose the topic.

My dissertation research focuses on the physical and social meaning of terms used to describe race and skin color in the Dominican Republic. I chose this topic because I had experience with the Dominican Republic; I wanted to understand more about the way that race was perceived and described; and the answer to my questions was missing from the academic literature on the topic.

What has graduate student life been like for you?

Life as a graduate student has been fantastic! There have certainly been stressful moments (my M.A. exam and dissertation proposal defense come to mind), but I have really enjoyed the ride. I have matured as a scholar and a person, and I have had the opportunity to travel to places like Spain and the Basque Country, India, and the Dominican Republic. The time has flown by!

Eva visited the Eiffel Tower after studying in the Basque Country in August 2012.

What do you wish you had known before you started grad school?

That’s a hard one. I would say that I wish I had known how to handle constructive criticism of my writing, research, etc. At the beginning, I couldn’t separate my writing from myself. Now, I edit my own writing with a much more critical eye, and the feedback I have received from classmates and professors has helped me to become a better writer.

What do you like most about grad school and what do you like least?

I like the feeling of accomplishment that comes from rising to a challenge. When I meet a deadline that seemed impossible or finish a big project, I feel major endorphins. I am proud of making my dissertation project a reality. It started as an idea, and it has been so rewarding to see that idea become a project, and that project become a dissertation (well, almost … June 2015!).

I also love being encouraged to explore new ideas. I am less thrilled about occasionally becoming a recluse. 

Who are your heroes and/or mentors and why?

This seems a bit cliché, but my mother is one of the most phenomenal people that I have ever met. This is true for many reasons, but I will just say that she is the one that taught me to dream big dreams. I have also had quite a few academic and professional mentors. Mentorship is a powerful thing. It is incredible to be surrounded by people who are genuinely invested in my success.

What do you do to relax? Any hobbies, collections, pastimes, favorite places to go, favorite things to do?

I love to travel and see new places. I also work out, watch interesting series on Netflix, eat things that are delicious, and work on my Rubik’s Cube technique. I’ve dabbled in photography, and I would like to be able to get out and do karaoke way more often than I do.

What do you hope to be doing 5 or 10 years out of graduate school?

I hope to be teaching, researching interesting things, seeing interesting places, and loving what I do. I also hope to finish writing the novel I started while I was in the Dominican Republic, and I hope it becomes a best seller! 

Do you have any advice for current grad students?

Work hard. Do good work. Listen to wise counsel, and don’t lose yourself in this process.

Eva flying over the Taj Mahal on a conference visit to India in September 2013.


Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Education Ph.D. Student Priscilla Pereschica

Priscilla and her grandmotherWherever she is – in class, on the soccer field, or at work in UCSB's Judicial Affairs office – you can bet that Priscilla Pereschica will be working hard at whatever she's doing, and that she'll be doing it well. Priscilla is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, with an emphasis on Educational Leadership and Organizations (ELO). A 2009 graduate of Fresno State, Priscilla currently works in Judicial Affairs, where she helps students navigate the judicial process. She is also an avid soccer fan, and has experience with both indoor and outdoor soccer. 

Where did you grow up?

I’m from the Central San Joaquin Valley, which is a predominantly agricultural region. It is sadly considered to be the 10th least educated metro area in the country. My grandparents, Ismael and Maria Bugarin and Ursulo and Esther Pereschica, left Mexico and moved to the United States to pursue better opportunities for themselves and their children. They ultimately settled in the Central Valley and worked as farmworkers. I really respect their decision to leave their country, to leave their families, and to work in a labor-intensive job in the grueling heat for an opportunity to achieve prosperity.

I come from a large and close-knit family. I’m the oldest of four children. I have one sister, Erika, and two brothers, Martin and Ysaiah. Erika works with special needs children, Martin is fixing up a 1967 Mustang, and Ysaiah will be going to the Marines Corps boot camp soon. My parents, Frank and Sandra, were quite young when they got married and when I was born. My parents made many sacrifices to support me and my siblings and worked two jobs at times. Although they did not attend college, they understood the importance of a college degree and they emphasized its importance to us at an early age. My parents have always been hard workers and had the entrepreneur spirit. They built and owned their homes, my mom owned her own business, and my dad purchased a small ranch and farmed it in addition to his full-time job. They achieved the “middle class dream” through a lot of hard work.

Is there any particular event or events that had a big impact or influence on you and helped shape who you are today?Priscilla and parents at graduation

As the oldest, a lot of family responsibilities fell upon me, and I helped care for my siblings when my parents worked. My mom would lovingly call me their “second mom.” This responsibility continued into college, and I coordinated my school and work schedules around my siblings’ schedules. Aside from my family responsibilities, I worked on average 25 hours a week and was a commuter student. With a combination of all of those factors, I was unable to fully integrate into college or participate in extracurricular activities; however, I made sure to focus on my classes because I wanted to attend grad school. I believe that my experiences helped me develop into the woman that I am today. My parents have done so much to provide for me and my siblings, so I was willing to help.

What research projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on two research projects. The first is a qualitative project that was started by my former advisor. We interviewed graduate students about their knowledge and experiences of attending an Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). The second project is my own and it is quantitative. I’m examining survey data related to the academic integration experiences of Latino undergraduates at an Emerging HSI. I didn’t intend to do research within the HSI context, but I became very intrigued by the topic after getting involved in the first project. An HSI is an institution with a minimum of 25 percent enrollment of Latino undergraduates. Federal funding is available to these institutions and it may be spent on a variety of programs and projects. An Emerging HSI is an institution with a Latino undergraduate enrollment of 15 to 24 percent. UCSB is an Emerging HSI with a 24 percent enrollment of Latino undergraduates. I’m looking forward to UCSB’s transition into an HSI because I think it will be a momentous event in regard to Latinos' access to a research-intensive university. It’s exciting to do this research at the same time that UCSB is making this transition. I hope that there is a commitment to serving the students by ensuring that they are graduating and are encouraged to pursue opportunities beyond their bachelor’s degrees.

Priscilla with her siblingsWhat has graduate student life been like for you?

I’ve enjoyed graduate school and have been involved on campus in multiple ways. I work in the Office of Judicial Affairs as a graduate student assistant and conduct officer. In my role, I help students navigate the university judicial process, investigate reports of student-involved academic and behavioral misconduct, and uphold the university’s policies and regulations. My boss, Stephan Franklin, has been very supportive of my professional development. I have received training on stalking, sexual assault, and restorative justice. I also serve as a hearing officer for Housing and Residential Life and have worked on an interdepartmental anti-couch burning campaign for the past two years. Our campaign has been successful and we have seen a decrease in the number of couch burnings in Isla Vista. I am proud to have co-coordinated a women’s self-defense training during the spring quarter and plan to coordinate a few more for this school year.

I am also one of the founding members of the UCSB Higher Education Action and Research Consortium (HEARC). HEARC was created by and is led by graduate students. Part of its purpose is to advance the dialogue and research of postsecondary issues. We meet several times during the quarter and invite faculty members, administrators, and researchers to discuss their research and work. We also provide professional development workshops for students. If you’re interested in attending one of our meetings or would like more information, please contact us at or visit our Facebook page.

I am also a board member of LUNA (Latino/a UCSB Network Association). LUNA is newly established and it was created to promote the professional development of and the retention of UCSB Latino/a faculty and staff. I’m excited to be a member of this group and look forward to creating a stronger and more visible community. Access our Facebook page for more information about upcoming events and workshops.

Finally, I am also a member of several other UCSB groups: Professional Women’s Association, SRB Governance Board, and Security Camera Policy Committee. Graduate life has been busy both academically and professionally but I enjoy it. I have a great advisor, Professor Richard Duran, who has provided me with a lot of support and opportunities.

What has been a source of motivation or drive for you in your graduate studies?Priscilla with family

I have personal and professional motivations, but my personal motivations drive me the most. I am motivated to succeed for my family. I am grateful for the sacrifices and opportunities that my grandparents and parents have given me, and I want to give back to them. My siblings, boyfriend Steven, and extended family are also very supportive and encouraging so they also add to my motivation. Additionally, my hard work and sacrifices will benefit my future family. Overall, I feel that my success and degrees are beyond me. When I achieve, they achieve. My degrees are their degrees.

Lastly, I am excited that my research will contribute to the growing research on HSIs and how they can better serve their students. I look forward to the professional opportunities that my degree and work will provide me.

Who are your heroes/mentors?

My heroes are my parents and grandparents. I value their faith, strong work ethic, perseverance, sacrifices, and love and commitment to their families. I admire how they live for others and not for themselves. They inspire me to embody these qualities and make me proud to be their daughter and granddaughter.

I consider Dr. David Schecter, who was my political science professor from Fresno State, to be my mentor. I’m very grateful for his help, wisdom, guidance, kindness, and support throughout the years. During my senior year at Fresno State, he helped me secure an internship in Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s office, which turned into a staff position. He also helped me navigate the graduate school application process and wrote me several recommendation letters. He has really helped me at critical points in my life and I’m thankful to have him as part of my support system.

Name an accomplishment you are most proud of and why.

Overall, I’m proud of myself. I think I’m doing quite well considering that I’m a first-generation college student and from a small, agricultural, and undereducated area. I feel very blessed for the opportunities that have been bestowed upon me.


Credit: OAR PhotographyWhat do you do to relax?

I’m a firm believer in work-life balance, although I struggle to maintain that balance at times. Sometimes the grad student life makes it difficult to do but I think it’s important to strive for it. Some of the things that I like to do to relax are watch movies, hike, and go to the beach. I’m surprised by the number of people I’ve met who live here and don’t go to the beach. Take advantage of its tranquility. I also enjoy a night of dancing and having a drink or two. Even though I love spending time with others, I also value my alone time. I find peace and relaxation through solitude.

What is one thing (or more than one thing) that people would be surprised to know about you?

I played soccer for 13 years consecutively, was captain of my high school varsity team, and played five seasons of indoor soccer after I graduated from college. Two of my indoor teams won the championship, and one of the championships was won in a penalty shootout! I played in an outdoor league this past summer and sprained my ankle. I plan to resume playing once it’s healed. Outdoor soccer and indoor soccer are uniquely different, but both are incredibly fun.

I’ve been taking self-defense classes this past year through the UCSB R.A.D. program (Rape Aggression Defense Program) and Santa Barbara Krav Maga. I find it empowering to learn how to defend myself and exhilarating to strike the pads. I’m proud to admit that I can deliver a good, strong kick, which I attribute to playing soccer for so many years. I highly recommend that women take a self-defense course. It’s important to train your body and mind in the event that these skills have to be used. I hope that doesn’t occur but it’s important to be prepared.

What do you hope to be doing 5 or 10 years out of graduate school?Priscilla and her boyfriend, Steve

I hope to have a job in public policy so I can continue working on higher education issues. I want to contribute to the success of underrepresented students by promoting access, retention, and opportunities to attend graduate school. As you can tell, family is very important to me so creating my own, large family will also be a focus of mine.

Do you have any advice for current grad students?

Grad school can be overwhelming and stressful because of the amount of work it requires, and it’s even more stressful if you have other commitments, so I recommend maintaining a support system of family and friends and establishing a proper work-life balance. My other takeaways are (1) don’t neglect your physical and mental health, (2) take advantage of your opportunities or create new ones, and (3) enjoy the experience. We live each day once so make the most of it. 


Peer Advisors' Office Hours for Fall 2014

The Graduate Division's Peer Advisors are here to help you! Each peer keeps office hours in the Graduate Student Resource Center, which is located in the Student Resource Building Room 1215.

Professional Development Peer Advisor, Shawn Warner-Garcia
Tuesday: 10 a.m. to noon, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. to noon, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Funding Peer, Kyle Crocco
Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Writing Peer, Ryan Dippre
Monday: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday: 9 to 11 a.m., 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Communications Peer, Melissa Rapp
Wednesday: 9:45 to 11:45 a.m.
Thursday: 1 to 5 p.m.

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.


Survey Finds Strong Career Satisfaction and High Employment Rates Among UC Ph.D. Recipients

University of California Ph.D. alums report career success and strong satisfaction with the graduate school education that contributed to that success, according to results of a comprehensive survey of alumni from throughout the 10-campus UC system. Survey results from UC Santa Barbara’s doctoral alums mirror those findings. Overall, 87 percent to 91 percent of UCSB alumni respondents felt they were “well-prepared” or “prepared” for their careers after graduation.

The first-ever systemwide survey was conducted by the UC Office of the President in collaboration with alumni associations and UC campus graduate divisions, including the UCSB Graduate Division. About 7,200 alums responded out of 26,000 Ph.D. alums who earned their degrees over the past 40 years. There were 771 respondents to the UCSB survey.

Alumni across all employment sectors and disciplines of study reported stable careers in fields for which their degrees prepared them, UC results show. The unemployment rate among the responding Ph.D. alums is extremely low, with 99 percent of the alums employed at the time of the survey. Alums who recently earned their degrees reported similarly high levels of employment to those with many years in their careers.

UCSB alumni respondents indicated that they would or probably would choose the same degree field again, ranging from 83 percent in Arts and Humanities to 89 percent in Social Sciences. UC-wide results show that 93 percent of respondents would pursue a doctoral degree again.

“The UC Alumni Survey is a very strong endorsement of the significant value of doctoral education for the individuals receiving doctorates,” said Dr. Carol Genetti, Dean of the UCSB Graduate Division. “The UCSB data closely mirrored the UC-wide results in almost all respects: The great majority of students were well employed and stated that their UCSB programs prepared them for their chosen careers, that they were highly satisfied with their doctoral programs, and that they were likely to choose the same career again.”

UC alumni identified the top three most valuable elements of their UC doctoral education as: academic writing skills; the practice of research methods; and presentation of work at conferences. These findings held true whether the alum worked in academia or not. About 75 percent of respondents said the reputation of their campus and the major had helped them to land a career job.

Dean Genetti noted that one of the most striking differences in findings between UCSB and the UC system as a whole was that “UCSB alums report significantly greater levels of employment in tenure-track positions at four-year universities (58 percent at UCSB compared with 42 percent UC-wide), a fact that underlines the academic leadership of our campus.”

UC Provost Aimée Dorr said that “even as careers in academia have become more competitive, it’s satisfying to see that our doctoral students do well in the academic job market. They become the faculty who will shape the next generation of innovators and critical thinkers. It’s also clear that many who earn a Ph.D. from UC are bringing the knowledge and abilities they honed in graduate school to other sectors.”

On the issue of student debt, Dean Genetti said, “The data show that our students report more debt than students at other UCs, which is likely to be related to UCSB having lower levels of funding than other campuses historically.” 

Among other results of the UC-wide survey, more than half of engineering and computer science graduates have gone into the private, for-profit sector. UC alums working in private industry are concentrated in highly skilled fields. More than half are in the professional, scientific, or career services sectors, which includes the legal, financial, architectural, and engineering fields. An additional 11 percent are in manufacturing, and 9 percent are in health care.

Said Dean Genetti: “While the data show that the doctorate is a productive route to a professional career, it is also important to remember that research doctorates are more than career paths: Doctoral programs give students the opportunity for deep exploration of their chosen field. All doctoral students make a lasting contribution to human knowledge through the production of an original dissertation. It is breathtaking to think of the tremendous wealth of information embodied in UC doctoral dissertations in all fields of study, and the significant impact their combined discoveries have had on our state, nation, and world.”

For more information, read the UC Office of the President news release.