Life Beyond the Redwoods: Seeyade Gizachew shares insights one year after UCSC graduation

Seeyade Gizachew (Stevenson ’22, community studies and psychology)

Seeyade Gizachew wants to prepare young people for the future. In her current role as a health justice coordinator for RYSE Youth Center in Richmond, California, and a graduate student at UC Berkeley, Gizachew is passionate about mentoring, education, and cultivating safe spaces. 

The daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, Gizachew is a first-generation college graduate whose goal is to support underserved communities, especially BIPOC and first-gen youth. 

“Coming from an Ethiopian immigrant family and being first-generation myself, there's a lot of disconnects in understanding the higher education system and social experiences that our families haven’t navigated before,” Gizachew says. “It felt like it was on me to figure out everything, so that’s why I wanted to get into all these people-helping roles and support others who might go through the same experiences as myself.” 

Gizachew graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in community studies and psychology. As a part of her major requirement, she did field study hours at RYSE Youth Center. Once she graduated, she was offered a full-time job at RYSE as a health justice coordinator. In her position, Gizachew works on health education programming for young people. This includes a Tasty Tuesday program, where Gizachew cooks meals with youth while they learn about food justice; LGBTQ+ comprehensive sex education; and internship programs she runs on physical health promotion in BIPOC communities.

In addition to her work at RYSE Youth Center, Gizachew is working toward her M.A. in social welfare from UC Berkeley. 

“I was debating between getting a master’s in public health and a master’s in social work, but social work is a lot more broad and diverse within the work that you can do. So it made more sense for me to follow this route, because I can still do the health education work. But another interest of mine is mental health and therapy. So that’s also why I wanted to go the social work route.”

Gizachew says that the experiences she had at UCSC greatly contributed to her career goals. 

During her time as an undergraduate at UCSC, Gizachew was part of a handful of organizations that contributed to her education. She was a Chancellor’s Undergraduate Internship Program intern with the Student Health Outreach and Promotion center, a Facilitators for Racial and Ethnic Diversity intern, and a program coordinator with the African American Resource Center. In addition, Gizachew worked as a lending library intern and first-generation mentor for the Equal Opportunity Program, a Black Academy mentor, a Destination Higher Education mentor, and an RA for College Ten. 

She still managed to graduate a year early. 

“I was a juggler for sure,” Gizachew says. “In all of those roles I was supporting people, I was connecting folks to resources, and I really enjoyed the mentorship role. Guiding other folks relates to the work I'm doing now.” 

“UCSC really helped me on my career path,” she added. “I learned so many things within each of the roles [I had at UCSC], and I think that has really prepared me for a career in working with diverse communities and seeing myself as a social worker and a health educator. I am grateful to UC Santa Cruz for that. I feel like there were a lot of opportunities for me there and I took advantage of them.”