19 Years Old
University of California, San Diego
Davana Rosas, a "star student" from UC San Diego, succeeds not only on talent alone -- but also thanks to the inspiration of her teacher, Patrick Velazquez. Despite many obstacles, Davana has forged a path toward success.
Even though she comes from a low-income family, she seeks to study Public Health and Psychology at the University of California, San Diego. Davana is a first-generation college student. She has eight siblings. “I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was only eight when my father was deported; he was deported over a broken car tail light. My parents divorced shortly after that, so I had to continue my schooling alone.”
The challenges life have presented haven’t stopped her. On the contrary, they have helped her develop character and a strong sense of will. “I won’t deny it, it’s been very difficult for me, but I’m working arduously so that my family feels proud of me and so I can create the foundation for my future. University life isn’t easy, but I am capable of finishing my career.”
Another person who is thrilled with Davana’s academic achievements is her teacher, Dr. Patrick Velazquez, director of Academic Advising and Support (through the Summer Bridge program). “I met Davana about a year and a half ago. She is an exemplary student, committed to reaching her goals. It’s been proven that through the Summer Bridge program, schools can have a real impact in the success of its students.”
“Patrick Velazquez motivates me to work as hard as I can. I have a lot to learn and there are many obstacles to surpass. He always tells me to get up when I’m down. He reminds me to remain humble and to remember where I came from, and to help other students who were in my shoes only a few years ago. He mentors me about social injustice and racism, and how it's a myth that Latinos and people of color can’t succeed.”
Established more than 25 years ago at UCSD, the Summer Bridge program is a four-week academic and residential experience designed for first-year college students. Students like Davana, who come from educationally disadvantaged homes, are assisted in successfully assimilating to university life. Around 150 freshmen at UCSD participate in this program each summer. They learn academic, cognitive, social and leadership skills that will serve them well during their first year at UCSD, and further down the road.
Davana has focused her attention on psychology classes. She's interested in how the mind works, as well as how it pertains to public health. Initially, she would like to become a health counselor. She interned at a center for sexual violence victims, which allowed her to educate other teens on how to avoid abusive relationships. “I like to help people, I like being solidary."
Davana earned a $27,500 scholarship from the AVID foundation, $20,000 from Dell, and another $2,000 from Lamp of Learning. In all, she has received $75,000 in scholarships. As a graduate of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program in July 2015, Davana got the opportunity to attend the “Beating the Odds” summit at the White House. She met the former First Lady, Michelle Obama. “I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to represent AVID at the summit and for meeting the First Lady and President [Barrack Obama]. I was also grateful for the opportunity to interact with students who came from similar families and backgrounds. I felt humble and grandiose!”