Lizbeth Tinajero

Lizbeth Tinajero hopes to work with a population similar to the one in Knights Landing.

Lizbeth Tinajero hopes to work with a population similar to the one in Knights Landing.

Having decided to take a gap year between high school and college to study French abroad, I came into UC Davis a year and several months older than everyone on my Tercero dorm floor. I was 19 when I moved in, with my major undeclared.

I knew starting college was going to be difficult, but I felt that my year abroad had given me the confidence that I needed to succeed in college. I was prepared for a difficult transitioning period, but what I was not expecting was feeling both lost and older than everyone else. That first quarter, I was a foreigner in my own country, the country of Campbell Hall. Because of this, I began searching for my niche at UC Davis. 

With so many opportunities here, I began defining what kind of student I wanted to be. I tried sport clubs, social organizations, and anything that sounded remotely interesting to me. I finally found my niche at the beginning of my spring quarter freshman year when I was accepted as a volunteer for the Knights Landing One Health Clinic.

When I first joined, I had no idea that being a part of this clinic would give me the sense of community that I yearned for at that moment, and a direction for the future. Because this was the youngest clinic in the student-run clinic network, I was able to help define the goals and the structure of the clinic. It was no longer about me, the foreigner, it was about doing something that made me feel happy. It was about providing the community of Knights Landing with a local source of culturally sensitive health care.

In doing this, I also found my community at UC Davis. The other undergraduate volunteers grew to be my family and support system. Being a part of this clinic also gave me the opportunity to interact with medical students and physicians. No longer did I see them as unapproachable, walking gods and goddesses because now they are my mentors and my friends. We are just another team working toward a common goal and learning valuable life skills along the way.

From intake, I was elected to community outreach chair, and now executive administrator of the clinic. During this process, I learned the importance of communicating efficiently, meeting timelines, working as a team, building leadership skills and running a clinic, but there is one skill that I am the most grateful to have received from my experience here: the direction and confidence in knowing that I can reach my future career goals.

Now I am no longer undeclared but two quarters away from earning my B.S. in biological sciences with an emphasis in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior. (Thank you, UC Davis, for making the title really long and fancy sounding.)

In the near future, I hope to be working with a population similar to the one in Knights Landing, but this time as a medical student and then as a physician. I started off dislocated and confused, but I was able to find my path.

You can never find out what you are passionate about without exploring your options, and UC Davis was the perfect outlet for that process. So take that chance, apply to that one thing.  That one thing could be the next thing in the advancement of not only your career but also your identity and place in this big, wide world we call home.  

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