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Brenda Ortiz

Virtual Commencement Promises Surprises for Grads, Families

While the COVID-19 pandemic has altered many things this spring on the UC Merced campus — from classes and research to events — UC Merced is making sure the Class of 2020 has a forum to commemorate students’ achievements and successes.

UC Merced will host the University of California’s first-ever virtual commencement ceremony Saturday, May 16, to recognize the more than 1,500 candidates who have registered to participate.

First-Generation Student Pursues Anti-Racism Research, Joins Cal-Poly Pomona this Fall

Kathryn “Katie” Daniels was a teen when she attended the celebration of the opening of UC Merced. As a child growing up in Merced, Daniels had heard her parents stress the importance of education.

“My mom always talked about the University of California coming to Merced and how that was going to help us,” she said.

Daniels is the first member of her family to have earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Soon, she’ll add her doctorate in Sociology.

CalTeach Program Helps Fill Teacher Shortage Gap

When you add UC Merced students majoring in math and science with a mentor teacher it equals real-life experience teaching in local schools.

That’s one of the many goals of UC Merced’s CalTeach program, which aims to address the shortage of math and science teachers throughout the Central Valley and beyond. This innovative program provides undergraduate students with specific coursework and field experiences in K-12 schools along with the option to earn their teaching credential.

Ph.D. Student Gets to the Root of Health Disparities Facing Hmong Farmers

Chia Thao was a teenager when she arrived in Fresno with her family to begin a new life. She was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, where her Laotian parents had fled after the Vietnam War.

“Our parents brought a skillset to the U.S., found a home in the Central Valley and began farming,” Thao said. “This connected them back to their homeland.”

Over the years, she witnessed the challenges small-scale farmers faced and it prompted her research interests. Now, she is using her cultural knowledge of her community to help improve health outcomes.

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