I look around, all eyes and pressure on me. It’s not every day that an undergraduate gets to ask a question to a candidate interviewing for the vice chancellor of equity, inclusion and diversity position. But as a student in the UC Davis Leadership Job Shadow Program, I had a seat at the table for this high-level interview.
“As students, a lot of us rarely engage with campus leaders creating a gap between students and administration. How do you plan to successfully engage with students making us, as students, feel like you’re really there for us?” I ask, noting several impressed looks of approval from the interview panel.
To ensure a well-rounded college experience, administrators and students need to be in communication. That’s why I’m glad I was accepted into the UC Davis Leadership Job Shadow Program, which provides students the opportunity to follow a campus leader for the day and learn about their job. An unexpected plus of this program is the opportunity for campus leaders to learn about the student experience at UC Davis, too.
Paired with College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey, I started my day in that high-level interview. Being the only student present was intimidating but nonetheless an opportunity to engage with people I would normally rarely or never talk to.
Afterwards, over a cup of coffee, I told Dean Winey a little more about myself and my experiences at UC Davis. I’d spent most of last year working as a student intern studying population dynamics in an entomology lab. Participating in undergraduate research allowed me to share insights into not only my classroom experiences but also my hands-on learning inside the lab. It was fun brainstorming with the dean about how to increase undergraduate participation in research.
A personal connection
The day I shadowed also happened to be the premiere date of the Curiosity Project at the KVIE public television studio in Sacramento. For those of you who haven’t heard about the UC Davis Curiosity Project, I strongly encourage you to check it out. The project focuses on six professors at Davis and their work, but on a deeper level, it explores what inspires them to drive their research and share their passions with the world.
Dean Winey chose to pursue biology due to his curiosity about his sister’s childhood illness. Interestingly enough, I chose to study biology for a similar reason. My grandmother started showing early signs of dementia as she got older. Watching her made me realize I wanted to pursue research, with the ultimate goal of helping people. Dean Winey’s story and the UC Davis Curiosity Project reminded me of why I chose UC Davis for my college experience in the first place.
The breadth of ideas and fascinating research across campus is astounding. Every day, I am inspired by my fellow students and faculty, feeling pushed to expand my horizons, dig deeper and ask questions. This is something I found Dean Winey and I shared—we both love learning beyond the classroom.
Overall, the job shadow program helped me feel connected to our campus in a new way. I encourage any student to apply to the job shadow program to gain new insight about our university and I further encourage campus leaders to open their doors to a student job shadow. You never know what you might learn from one another.
Follow Fiona's Day with the Dean in the Vlog Below