Daniel Castenada talks with UC Davis Chancellor May at Envision UC Davis event

Five Years of Envisioning What's Possible

Campus visit program helps underrepresented students see themselves in grad school

UC Davis wasn’t even on Daniel Castaneda’s radar when he was an undergraduate at UC Riverside; but it is where he ended up. And, because of the Envision UC Davis program, he discovered it was exactly where he was meant to be.

“The Envision program was the first time that I thought, I’m actually qualified to be in a program like this and people want me to come to their university,” Castaneda said. “It was nice to feel like I have a future opportunity here and there are people at UC Davis who want to help me do it.”

Campus visits help students visualize future as graduate student at UC Davis

Envision UC Davis is a campus-visit program that enables California's most promising graduate school hopefuls to visualize a future as a UC Davis graduate student. Envision seeks to eliminate the barriers that prevent underrepresented students from successfully entering and completing graduate school, and encourages applications from individuals who have perspectives or experiences of groups who are historically underrepresented in higher education.

Envision celebrates five years

Celebrating its fifth year in 2022, the program hosts an action-packed weekend on the UC Davis campus for California students. Events typically include tours of graduate program departments, lessons on financing options and an evening with the Chancellor.

Castaneda was part of the inaugural cohort of the program. He remembers how helpful it was to visit campus resources including the Student Community Center, meet the head of the department, and meet with his prospective advisor. 

“It forced me to look at the department and who I might work with,” he said. “It was nice to have a face and a name to put to the department.”

Program helps first-generation students

Castaneda, who is a first-generation college student, said Envision also opened his eyes to the litany of support resources that are available to graduate students, which Castaneda said “was a game changer” because it made him feel welcomed and the campus feel more inviting, he said.

“It’s really good for first-gen and students of color to know that, yes there are a lot of things to consider, but there are a lot of resources at Davis and people whose entire jobs are to increase diversity and equity,” he said. “That is what really sold it for me—that Davis isn’t just thinking about diversity and equity, but is actually putting resources behind it.”

Program helps promote diversity and inclusion in higher education

Programs like Envision UC Davis are needed if academia is to move in the direction of diversifying research and teaching in higher education because Envision helps demystify graduate school for students from historically underrepresented groups.

“A big reason why I’m here at UC Davis is because I came to the Envision Program,” he said. “So, now that I’m here, I want to help other undergrads who think about these things. And show them it’s possible.” 


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