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Sitting with Cici: A Conversation Around Graduation and Mental Health

Good morning graduation! For Claudia Castro, aka Cici, graduation is literally around the corner. I had the privilege of getting to know the strong advocate and beautiful soul that is she before she takes off on the rest of her life journey. Here’s a little snippet of sittin with Cici: A Conversation Around Graduation and Mental Health.

Q: When did you know that your major was right for you? Was it always your major or did you change it at one point?

Cici: It was quite a rollercoaster to find out what major was right for me. It was never about sticking to one major, I suppose, but finding out what felt right for me. I came into UCR as a cell-molecular biology major, changed to neuroscience and then got kicked out of CNAS because of a dismissal from school. I took a year off and focused on my mental health and my own image of what I wanted. Soon, I realized that Political Science was something I enjoyed and when I came back to UCR, I switched to CHASS. Within Political Science, I quickly realized that my passion was actually in Ethnic Studies. It was like I finally found my calling, and I plan to pursue that route in the future. My journey was definitely broad but beautiful, and I was able to find my identity and my passions at UCR. 

Q: What is one way (or more ways) that you feel like you have grown since your freshman year? Are you more confident, more outgoing, more well-put together, etc? What is one thing you would like to tell your freshman year self?

Cici: During this time at UCR, I really have grown into loving who I am: my strength, confidence, fearlessness, and drive. Not only am I more free with my confidence, but I learned to respect myself and speak up as well as love myself physically. I definitely grew up with struggles as a Hispanic woman to accept my differences from the “beauty norm”, but I believe we should be able to live in our bodies without hating it. I have always known I was strong, but to look back and see myself not only overcoming but thriving after so many obstacles is astounding. If I could tell my freshman year self something, it would be to always be your biggest advocate and take a break. Everyone’s timeline is different and just because you aren’t getting what you want doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get it. There’s a lot of weight on student’s shoulders and we are constantly pushing without realizing where we are going until we are at rock bottom. Breathe, and take care of your mental health. It’s the foundation for everything. 

Q: What was your favorite experience or event at UCR? Do you have any experiences that you were involved in during UCR that catered towards any skills that have proven to be beneficial?

Cici: I can’t choose a favorite because each place has its own specialties. The first job I ever had was at the Student Recreation Center for 3 and ½ years and it helped the most with my soft skills and my networking. Additionally, this past fall, I was an intern for the women’s resource center and I loved how my morals were attached and advocated for there; it gave me so much perspective towards my career and they were my biggest support system when I was ill with COVID. As for Her Campus, I had such a rewarding time in the events committee, creating bonding experiences. Finally, I was in the Mujeres Unidas on Campus which really helped as a community that could understand my struggles as a Hispanic/Latina woman.There’s so much good that can come from being involved in UCR, especially when places like these promote your wellbeing and strength.

Q: Any finishing words? 

Cici: College is never easy. You will come across obstacles, but don’t ever deter. Fight for things that you want and always stay true to yourself. To everyone at Her Campus, it’s been such a wonderful journey to have a sisterhood in this community that advocates for issues and unites as a safe space College is such a great experience in finding yourself and being your best advocate, and I am extremely grateful for such a ride.

Olivia Garcia

UC Riverside '24

creative writing major - lover of books, Netflix, and being your truest self
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