Student Life & Leadership Example

December 2020

Section 1

December 2020 - Bethany Urbano

An image of Bethany Urbano, December 2020 Spotlight winner.

Name: Bethany Urbano
Year: 5th Year
Major: Political Science & Education Sciences
Hometown: Santa Ana, CA
Hobbies: Cooking, Board Games, Photography, and Hiking!
Favorite Quote:

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” - Maya Angelou

Involvements at UCI:

  • UCI Sustainability Center: Earth Representative (2016 -2017)
  • Summer Academic Enrichment Program (2018)
  • Phi Alpha Delta - Pre Law Fraternity (2018 -present)
  • UCI National Society of Leadership and Success (2018-present)
  • School of Social Sciences: Dean’s Council Member (2018-2020)
  • UCI International Center: English Conversation Partner (2018-2019)
  • Science of Learning Lab: Research Assistant (2019-2020)
  • University Studies 1 - Discussion Leader (2019-2020)
  • School of Social Sciences - UROP Fellow (2019-2020)
  • Undergraduate Researcher for School of Social Sciences Honors Program (2019-2020)
  • School of Social Sciences: Global Connect Teaching Intern (2019-2020)
  • School of Education Peer Academic Advisor ( 2019- present)
  • ED 126 Ethics & Education - Course Assistant (2020)
  • UCI SPOP Staffer: Ember Year (2020)
  • UCI Study Abroad Center: Generation Study Abroad Ambassador (2020 - present)
  • UCI Barnes & Noble Scholarship Cohort - Literacy Project (2020-present)
  • SS 193 A-C : Teaching Assistant (2020 - present)
  • Middle Earth Resident Advisor (2020 -present)

What has been the most fulfilling experience you have had in a leadership role?

One of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had at UCI is being a Middle Earth Resident Advisor. Throughout my first-year of college I heavily relied on my RA’s AntEater advice and first-generation wisdom to help me navigate my new unfamiliar environment. The genuine connection and encouragement I received from my RA lead me to study abroad in Japan, double major and get involved with on campus organizations. In a similar way, these last few months I have had the opportunity to work towards building an inclusive and supportive community for my first-year residents. By fostering authentic relationships with each one of them I have been able to share insightful advice, provide campus resources and help them navigate this new virtual/unfamiliar college environment. The most rewarding part of this experience, amongst the pandemic, has been the extra steps I’ve taken to ensure residents feel supported inside and outside of their virtual classroom and connected to others at their home away from home. I am beyond grateful to follow my RA’s steps and hope to continue to positively impact and support my residents amidst the online and socially distanced environment.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

One of my most meaningful awards has been receiving the Barnes & Noble Literacy Scholarship, where I initiated and am currently leading the creation of a community library for a rural town in Michoacan, Mexico. Ensuring that books are available and accessible to any child at any time of the year is the first step in decreasing the level of poverty found in undereducated communities. This would empower students to acquire reading, writing, and numeracy skills, which can serve as the foundation to help them address many of the other issues that keep low-income communities vulnerable. My ability to effectively communicate, create a strategic plan and problem solve has allowed for this multifaceted project to come to fruition. Without the support of my advisors and campus community, generational poverty and illiteracy would continue to be preeminent in my mother’s hometown.

Who is your role model at UCI? How have they impacted you?

My role model at UCI is my mentor, Dr. Jeanett Castellanos, who helped me cultivate an ambitious work-ethic and mindset. There are no words to describe how much she has positively impacted my academic pursuits and acted as a catalyst for my career in public policy. She has truly carved the pathway for many students, including myself, to pursue higher education. I hope to be able to follow in her footsteps and be a great role model and mentor. Additionally, all my friends, first-generation classmates and leaders on-campus who I have had the opportunity to meet continue to inspire me with their commitment to our campus community and dedication to be agents of change.

Everyone experiences some form of failure in their life, how have you dealt with it?

During my most challenging times, I have relied on my faith and familial support. First and foremost, my mother has always served as my inspiration and motivation for anything that I do. She is the embodiment of resilience and her unconditional support has guided me throughout my most difficult times. When faced with failure, I do my best to remain optimistic and remind myself that when one door closes another door opens. By learning from one’s mistakes and continuously adapting I believe we as individuals place ourselves in the state of mind that allows for an endless amount of opportunities to flow into our lives.

What advice would you give to your first year self?

The advice I would give my first-year self is to unapologetically prioritize my well-being. To do my best to remember that my habits, mindsets, and routines are building blocks for my mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. To welcome with enthusiasm the concept of moderation and actively engage in a lifestyle that allows me to pursue my academic ambitions without sacrificing the little things in life.