Fall quarter kicks off with new students, programs

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UC Santa Cruz emerged as an obvious choice for Aresima Moges when she decided to pursue a degree in computer science.

After being accepted to UC Santa Cruz, Aresima Moges couldn't wait to post on social media about her new status as a Banana Slug.

The problem? The UCSC shirt she ordered off Amazon never arrived.

"I was really bummed, and I wanted to show people how proud I was that I got into UC Santa Cruz," Moges said.

Moges leaned into her artistic side, buying a white sweater and painting her own UC Santa Cruz shirt with a redwood tree and sunset over Monterey Bay.

UC Santa Cruz students, like Moges, are excited to start their college journey, despite the challenges created by a global pandemic that has reshaped society. Faculty and staff are ready to provide students with the best experience possible and the support to help them succeed.

Moges grew up in San Jose, and UC Santa Cruz emerged as an obvious choice when she decided to pursue a degree in computer science.

"I've always loved UC Santa Cruz. The first time I visited was right after I came to America. My dad was living in San Jose and took us to the beach," said Moges, who left Ethiopia when she was 8 years old. "I want to take what I learn at UC Santa Cruz and use it to help countries, like Ethiopia."

Leading up to college, Moges immersed herself in the world of technology with summer internships at Google and Intel. She's started her UCSC journey through the Baskin Engineering Excellence Scholars program, one of many programs the campus offers to give new students the tools and resources necessary to achieve academic excellence throughout their college journey.

New class underscores excellence, opportunity

Despite the pandemic, UC Santa Cruz continued its renewed tradition of holding a convocation to recognize the achievement of incoming students and welcome them into the campus community. In a video published Tuesday, Chancellor Cynthia Larive, interim Vice Chancellor Jennifer Baszile, SUA President Shivika Sivakumar, college provosts, resource center directors and the president of the UC Santa Cruz alumni council welcomed new Banana Slugs to their college journey.

“UC Santa Cruz is truly an extraordinary university, offering you myriad opportunities to pursue your passions, whether they be academic or personal,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive said today in a welcome message to students. “The chance to explore new interests and to discover what brings you joy is a huge benefit of a UCSC education.”

Moges is one of the 4,100 new first-year Banana Slugs who are starting their college journey this fall. The campus is welcoming an additional 1,700 transfer students who are continuing their higher education with UCSC.

Thirty one percent of new students (frosh and transfers) are first-generation college students, and 31% of undergrads (new and returning) are from low-income backgrounds. Many have traveled a long way to get here with first-year students hailing from 44 states and 31 different countries.

The racial and ethnic diversity of incoming students continues to be strong. Five percent of incoming first-year students identify as African American, 1% as American Indian, 36% as Asian, 27% as Hispanic/Latino, and 29% as white. Five percent of incoming transfer students identify as African American, 1.4% as American Indian, 26% as Asian, 30% as Hispanic/Latino, and 33% as white, according to preliminary campus figures.

New faculty and programs build on campus strengths

UC Santa Cruz is welcoming 43 faculty members to campus this academic year. Areas of expertise include biology, computer science and engineering, psychology, feminist studies, and much more. UC Santa Cruz now has 620 Senate faculty members spread across its five academic divisions.

“Faculty are really the backbone of the university, and we are strong throughout all five of our academic divisions,” said Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer, who is the university’s top academic officer. “This year’s hires, which includes our first Nobel Laureate, are fantastic additions, expanding opportunities for our students and boosting our research profile.”

UC Santa Cruz launched several new programs this fall that build on the campus’s strengths and offer students new opportunities.

A bachelor of arts in biotechnology is designed for students who plan to be involved in the biotechnology industry as writers, artists, ethicists, executives, sales force, regulators, lawyers, and other roles. It will give them an understanding of the technology without the intensive training needed for technicians, research scientists, engineers, and bioinformaticians.

A new Black Studies minor offers students grounding in the intellectual histories, political movements, cultural expressions, and critical theories of the black diaspora. With faculty expertise in Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas, Europe, and the Pacific, students can explore the globally multi-sited nature of black freedom struggles, both past and present, and examine blackness through a comparative lens.

The Environmental Studies Department launched a BA in agroecology that will provide students with an understanding of the social, political, and economic aspects of agriculture.

Other new programs include a B.A. in mathematics education and a B.S. in mathematics, and a B.A. in Education, Democracy and Justice.

The Natural Language Processing masters degree at the Silicon Valley Campus is welcoming its first cohort of students.

Living, learning in a pandemic

sammy-mask-300px.jpgThe health and wellbeing of the campus community continues to be one of the highest priorities for UC Santa Cruz. The campus planned fall activities to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

In addition to continuing with remote instruction, the campus dramatically reduced the number of students living on campus and encouraged students to live at their permanent residence, if possible. About 1,000 students will be living on campus for fall quarter, down from about 9,000 in previous years.

A Slug Strong public awareness campaign, launched last week, encourages everyone in the campus community to do their part by wearing a face covering, avoiding group gatherings, and more. All students living on campus will also receive regular tests for COVID-19 as part of the campus’s asymptomatic testing effort to help prevent the virus's spread.