Francia Orduno: High Achieving Freshmen in a New Environment

Photo Credits: Mariana Huben

As seniors leave high school, they are confident that the same work effort they put in high school will work for them in the university they are attending. However, while it works for some students, the rest of us are trying to find ways to balance our new lives and the academic work that comes with it. I decided to interview Francia Orduno, a freshman here at UC Davis, to learn about how she made her first quarter in the university a successful one.

Hello Francia! Before we start, would you like to say a little about yourself; your life before UC Davis?

For sure! My name is Francia Orduno, I am currently 18 years old. I was born and raised in LA, but went to school in the valley, Van Nuys. I applied to several UC’s and I picked UC Davis because I thought it was the best fit for me because of the small-campus feel, since I felt it wouldn’t be too overwhelming.

Alright, so last quarter you managed to get a 3.9, make the dean’s list, and got invited to join the Honors Program here at UC Davis. Very impressive. What did you do to accomplish this high GPA which got you these recognitions?

I just made sure I was focused on my academics, so I didn’t do a lot of extra-curriculars. I think I did one club and a few volunteer opportunities. But, I made sure to keep a planner and write down all of my assignments and make sure to work my schedule around those assignments. I try not to procrastinate, so whenever I had a paper due, I would try to start right away. And flashcards really help me--I had Art History last quarter and we had to do a lot of memorization of dates...I would do flashcards [and practiced them] when I was walking to class.

Do you feel that you are learning a lot here at UC Davis?

Definitely! I really like that I’m studying the subjects that I like. Back in high school, I knew that science and math weren’t my strong point, and here I’ve been focusing on the things I like--so history, sociology, and some classes that are dealing with law, which is what I want to go into. Before I came to UC Davis, I felt that society was much better than it really is, but since I’ve been here, I’ve been exposed to what’s wrong with the system and I’m learning the things I could do to make [our society] better. I [feel like] I can make a difference in the world.

How difficult was it transitioning from high school to university, academic-wise?

Academic-wise was way easier than socially. Socially, you have to adjust in your new environment--living away from home, away from your parents, friends and family. But academically, I feel like it was just the small part of the big picture. I feel like being here, you have more time to focus on yourself and study, so it didn’t really feel too hard for me. As long as I balance out my schedule and prioritize my social life and academics, [the transition] was pretty easy.

You recently got the position to become an RA next year, congratulations. How are you going to balance your academics with this new role?

Thank you! I feel like it’s definitely going to be more difficult. Honestly, I don’t really know yet, because I don’t know how demanded the job will be. But, no matter, I’m going to make sure, as I’ve said, to prioritize, keep everything organized, have planners, make lists, and not try to procrastinate. I guess what I’m going to do is, obviously, put work first, since it is my job now. But besides that, every free time I have I will make sure to make every moment as productive as possible.

What tips would you give to current and incoming freshmen?

I would say that sometimes you might feel like you’re not suppose to be here because it might be pretty hard, I have some of those moments. And I think it's ok to feel that way; it’s definitely not going to be easy, but the thing you should keep in mind is, there is some other reason you might not be seeing at the current moment, but you just have to keep pushing through. It might be a bad moment, a bad day, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad life. Keep a positive outlook, be optimistic. It’s easier said than done, but just know that if you’re sad that nothing is going right and that you’re not suppose to be here, it’s completely normal to feel that way. What really matters is how you get yourself back up from that situation and how you improve it.