Student Story
7 minutes reading

Here are your Transfer Preparation Program Peer Mentors. These are all UC Santa Cruz students who transferred to the university, and are eager to help you as you embark on your transfer journey. To reach a Peer Mentor, just email


alexandra_peer mentorName: Alexandra
Major: Cognitive Science, specializing in Artificial Intelligence and Human Computer Interaction.
My Why: I am excited to be helping each of you with your journey to transferring to one of the UCs, hopefully, UC Santa Cruz! I am very familiar with the whole transfer process as, I too, am a transfer student from a Northern LA region community college. In my free time, I love playing the piano, exploring new cuisines and eating lots of food, wandering through different gardens, and traveling to different countries.



anmol_peer mentorName: Anmol Jaura
Pronouns: She/Her
Major: Psychology major, Biology Minor
My Why: Hello! I’m Anmol, and I’m a second year Psychology major, Biology minor. I love art, painting, and bullet journaling specifically. I enjoy watching sitcoms, my favorite would be New Girl, and I am 5’9”. As a first generation student, I too, had a bunch of questions about the whole college application process, and wish I had someone to guide me, so I hope I can be a guide to those that need it. I enjoy helping others, and want to provide a welcoming community here at UCSC. Overall, I am looking forward to guiding new transfer students into a journey of their lives. 


Bug F.


Name: Bug F.
Pronouns: they/she
Major: Theater Arts with a focus in production and dramaturgy

My Why: Bug (they/she) is a third year transfer student at UC Santa Cruz, majoring in Theater Arts with a focus in production and dramaturgy. They are from Placer County and grew up visiting Santa Cruz often as they have a great deal of family local to the area. Bug is a gamer, musician, author, and content creator, who loves science fiction, anime, and Sanrio. Her personal mission is to make space in our community for disabled and queer students like themself.



alexandra_peer mentorName: Elaine
Major: Mathematics and minoring in Computer Science
My Why:  I am a first generation transfer student from Los Angeles. I'm a TPP mentor because I want to help those who were in the same position as me when I was transferring. I love cats and thrifting and just exploring new things!




ella_peer mentorName: Ella
Major: Human Biology
My Why: Hi everyone my name is Ella! I am from Ventura, CA and I am a second year Human Biology major. I enjoy going to the beach and listening to Taylor Swift! I am affiliated with Cowell College and I have loved my time here at UCSC so far!




iliana_peer mentorName: Illiana
My Why: Hello students! I am here to help you through your transfer journey. I have been through this road before and I understand that things can get a little muddy and confusing, so I am here to help you along the way, and share some tips that I wish others have told me! Please email to begin your journey! Go Slugs!




ismael_peer mentorName: Ismael
My Why: I am a Chicano who is a first-generation transfer student and I come from a working class family. I understand the transferring process and how difficult it can be to not only find resources but also find the necessary help. The resources I found made the transition from community college to the University a lot more smoother and easier. It really takes a team to help propel students to succeed. Mentoring would help me give back all the valuable and important information I have learned as a transfer student. These tools can be passed to help those that are thinking about transferring and those who are in the process of transferring. 



brendaName: Jack
Major: Cognitive Science major with an emphasis in Artificial Intelligence and Human Computer Interactions
College Affiliation: Cowell
My Why: Hey, I'm Jack! I'm a senior Cognitive Science major with an emphasis in Artificial Intelligence and Human Computer Interactions. My favorite things to do are ride any type of board around, play trading card games, and try new restaurants. I transferred to UCSC from Irvine Valley College in the fall of 2022. I wanted to become a transfer peer mentor to provide helpful, first-hand insight to prospective transfers as they prepare to continue their education into a four year university.



julian_peer mentorName: Julian
Major: Computer Science
My Why: My name is Julian, and I am a Computer Science major here at UCSC. I am excited to be your peer mentor! I transferred from College of San Mateo in the Bay Area, so I know that transferring is a steep hill to climb. I enjoy biking around town, reading, and gaming in my free time.



Ron (Jiongluan)

ron_peer mentorName: Ron (Jiongluan)
Pronouns: he/him/his
Major: Computer Science
College Affiliation: College Nine
My Why: My transfer achievements are built up from many resources and guidance from our community. I am excited to share what I learned and my own self-taught transfer knowledge with those who need it. As a TPP Peer Mentor, I could have an amazing opportunity to help more people be more prepared for transfer and transfer successfully. As a first-generation student, I have a lot of experience to share with transfer students in need.



sam_peer mentorName: Sam Elliott
My Why: Hi there! My name is Sam Elliott, I’m a third-year transfer student here at UCSC. I am originally from a rural town in the midwest but moved to the Bay Area years back where I attended College of Marin. From there, I transferred to UCSC where I am now pursuing a degree in intensive Psychology and getting involved in research! I hope to attend graduate school for developmental psychology after my time here in Santa Cruz. Having transferred this past summer, I recall all too well the mix of emotions and challenges that come with this big transition. I'm stepping into this role as a TPP peer mentor because I believe having a co-pilot during this journey is something everyone can benefit from. I look forward to sharing what I've learned, lending a listening ear, and cheering on prospective and incoming transfers as they find their way here at UCSC! 


Savannah S.


Name: Savannah S. 
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Major: Sociology and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies
College Affiliation: Oakes

My Why: I am a first generation transfer student and student parent, coming from a continuation high school. When searching for a school to transfer to, I was looking for something that met my needs as a 21-year-old college student, but also my needs as a low-income parent, AND the needs of my four-year-old son. I navigated community college mostly alone, rarely meeting with any counselors, and created my own academic plans based on information I found on the internet. While I made it through and was accepted to UCSC, I remember how nerve wracking it was to do it on my own. I had no one to answer the questions that couldn't be found through a Google search, and no one to give me peace of mind. I am lucky that my transfer to UC Santa Cruz met my needs really well, but I chose the school blindly and with much more anxiety than necessary. My goal is to offer comfort during the transfer process and help people from diverse life circumstances find what they need through UCSC!


skylyn_peer mentorName: Skylyn
My Why: It took me some time to figure out what I wanted to do with my future and community college was a wonderful place to foster that. I was able to find a passion through not only academia, but also outside experiences. If there is one thing that the transfer process has afforded me, it’s the perspective that academics are a stepping stone to what you may want to do with your life. Your life outside of school is just as important and many transfer students, like myself, have many outside responsibilities they have to consider. I am so grateful to serve the wonderful transfer community and hope to maintain a high level of compassion, understanding, and enthusiasm for all transfer students, current and future. All people deserve the chance to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities the UC Transfer system can afford, especially as a stepping stone to making your dreams a reality. 


taima_peer mentorName: Taima T.
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Major: Computer Science & Legal Studies
College Affiliation: John R. Lewis
My Why: I am excited to be a Transfer Peer Mentor at UCSC because I understand that the application journey is filled with uncertainties, and I was fortunate to have someone who guided me through it and would answer my questions. I believe having support is something really valuable and I want to pay it forward by helping other students in the same way. 



Lizette’s Story

Meet the Author: 
Hi, everyone! I’m Lizette and I am a senior earning a BA in Economics. As the 2021 Admissions Umoja Ambassador Intern, I shape and conduct outreach to Umoja programs at community colleges around the state. A part of my internship is to create this blog to help support Black transfer students. 

My acceptance process: 

When I applied to UC Santa Cruz I did not think I was ever going to attend. I don't even remember why I chose to apply to UCSC. I actually TAG’d to UC Santa Barbara because they offer transfer students their own apartments. To me that was the best it could get. However I failed to look at the Economics Department at UCSB. I didn't realize that the Economics Department at UCSB focused more on finance -- something I had negative interest in. As in, I kinda hated it. I was forced to look at the only other school that accepted me -- UCSC. 

The first thing I did was check out their Economics Department and I fell in love. There was regular economics and another major called “Global Economics.” I knew Global Economics was for me because it included classes about policy, economics, health, and the environment. It was everything I was interested in. I checked out their resources for Transfer students. I learned UCSC offers STARS, a summer academy, and guaranteed housing for two years which was super helpful because I planned to graduate in two years [please note that housing guarantees are currently revised due to COVID]. The only thing left for me to do was to actually check out the campus. 

Thankfully for me, a good friend of mine attended UCSC. I called her up to ask her if I could visit and check out the campus. Just the drive up to Santa Cruz convinced me of attending. I’m from Los Angeles and never in my life have I seen so much greenery and forest.

Students walking on a bridge through campus on a rainy day, redwood trees in background
Students walking on a bridge through campus on a rainy day.


Footpath through the redwood forest on campus


The campus was breathtaking and beautiful! I loved everything about it. In my first hour on campus I saw wild flowers in bloom, bunnies, and deer. LA could never. My second day on campus I decided to just submit my SIR, my statement of intent to register. I applied to the Summer Academy for transfer [now Transfer Edge] in September and got accepted. Around late September during the Summer Academy, I received my financial aid package for the school year and enrolled in my classes for fall quarter. The peer mentors at the Summer Academy hosted workshops to help understand both processes and answer any questions. I don’t think I would have adjusted well on campus without the Summer Academy because I was able to explore the school and surrounding city without the usual student population. When fall quarter did start, I knew my way around, which busses to take, and all the paths around campus.

Alumnus Greg Neri, an Author and Artist Who Loves to Give Back

Alumnus Greg Neri
Alumnus Greg Neri

Filmmaker and writer, Greg Neri graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1987. In his interview with the Theater Arts Department at UCSC, he expressed his love for UCSC for its community. As a film and theater arts major he took advantage of the lush meadows and never ending forest.  He spent a lot of his free time painting the meadows near the campus barn. Moreover, Greg recalls that his professors at UCSC took a chance on him which gave him the courage to take risks in his life. 

However, Greg did not stay a filmmaker forever, he actually started writing after being stuck on the film project Yummy. While working with kids in South Central, Los Angeles, he realized he found it easier to talk and relate to younger kids. He appreciated writing for its lower budget costs and greater control over his projects. Eventually the film project became the graphic novel that it is today. 

Diversity in writing is really important for Greg Neri. In his interview with ConnectingYA, Greg Neri explained that there needs to be writing that allows other cultures to walk in the same footsteps of the main character without disconnecting. It needs to be written in a way that the reader can understand the main character’s actions and if in the same circumstances, might make the same decisions too. He says Yummy is ‘not a ghetto story, but a human one.” He explains that there isn't any writing for kids who are at risk to become gangbangers and that it’s those kids who need stories the most. Finally he explains that, “the evolution of my books was not planned but they just came along, inspired by real places and people I encountered in life, I haven't looked back.” If you are trying to decide what to do with your life, Greg advises you to “find your voice and use it. Only you can see the world the way you do.”

 Jones, P. (2015, June 15). RAWing with Greg Neri. Retrieved April 04, 2021, from

Student Perspectives: College Affiliation


Discover the Colleges YouTube Thumbnail
Access this playlist for info on all 10 of our residential colleges


The colleges at UC Santa Cruz are instrumental in creating the learning communities and supportive environment that characterize the UC Santa Cruz experience.

All undergraduate students, whether they live in university housing or not, are affiliated with one of 10 colleges. In addition to housing students in small-scale residential communities, each college provides academic support, organizes student activities, and sponsors events that enhance the intellectual and social life of the campus.

Every college community includes students with diverse backgrounds and academic goals. Your college affiliation is independent of your choice of major, and students rank their preference of college affiliation when they formally accept their admission to UCSC through the Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) process

We asked current UCSC students to share why they chose their college and any tips, advice, or experiences they would like to share related to their college affiliation. Read more below:

"I did not know anything about the college system at UCSC when I received my acceptance and was confused as to why I was being asked to choose a college affiliation if I had already received my acceptance. The easiest way to explain the college affiliation system is that each of the colleges have unique themes. You rank your affiliation choices based on which college theme you like the best. I am lucky enough to have been affiliated with my top choice, Oakes. Oakes' theme is 'Communicating Diversity for a Just Society.' This was important to me because I am an advocate for diversifying colleges and STEM. One of the unique things that Oakes has to offer is the Scientist In Residence Program. Adriana Lopez is the current adviser and hosts many events relating to STEM diversity, research opportunities, and advising to become a professional scientist or work in healthcare. When choosing a college, students should definitely take the time to look into every college’s theme. Location should also be considered when looking at colleges. For instance, if you enjoy working out you may want to choose either Cowell College or Stevenson College since they are the closest to the gym. It is also important to not stress over choosing a college. Each college is wonderful and unique in its own way. Everyone ends up loving their college affiliation and it truly makes for a more personable college experience."

      -Damiana Young, TPP Peer Mentor


Students walking outside College Nine


Tony Estrella
Tony Estrella, TPP Peer Mentor

"When I first applied to UCSC, I didn’t know anything about the college system, so I didn’t know what to expect. After I was accepted, I was able to look at all of the colleges...and their affiliated core beliefs. I chose Rachel Carson College because their theme relates to environmental activism and conservation. Even though I’m not an Environmental Science major, I believe these core beliefs are globally pertinent issues affecting each and everyone of us and will take our collective effort to solve. I would recommend students choose a college that best holistically represents them, their beliefs, and their aspirations. College affiliation is also a great way to diversify your social bubble to include different perspectives that perhaps challenge your preconceived notions."

A peaceful scene of Rachel Carson College at night


Malika Alichi
Malika Alichi, TPP Peer Mentor

"After my friend took me on a tour all over campus, what stuck with me the most was Stevenson College, College 9, and College 10. Once admitted, I became affiliated with College 9. I loved living there. It is located on the upper-part of campus, near the Baskin School of Engineering. Because of the location, I never had to climb a hill to class. It’s also really close to a coffee shop, a restaurant above the dining hall, and a cafe with pool tables and $0.25 snacks. My advice for students deciding which college to choose is to consider where they would feel most comfortable in terms of surroundings. Each college has its own strengths, so it just depends on what the individual prefers. For example, if you like to be immersed in the forest, Porter College or Kresge College would be a great fit. If you want to be close to a gym, Cowell College or Stevenson College would be best. STEM classes are usually held in Classroom Unit 2, so if you’re an Engineering, Biology, Chemistry, or Computer Science major I would strongly consider either Colleges 9 or 10. If you take a look at the layout of the campus and your favorite type of scenery, I guarantee you will find the college that you’ll love to be affiliated with!"

Jack Baskin School of Engineering is well known for its research and teaching in areas such as computer science and biotechnology.


"Ranking my possible college affiliation was exciting. Before applying I knew that each college focused on specific values and qualities. I chose Cowell College because it is near the foot of the campus, meaning it's faster to get to and from downtown Santa Cruz. It is also close to a great field, the gym, and swimming pool. Cowell's theme is 'The Pursuit of Truth in the Company of Friends.' This resonates for me because networking and getting out of my shell has been essential to my success in college. Learning about different perspectives is crucial to growing. Cowell College hosts various events for students that involve networking and expanding your circle. It hosts Zoom conferences that focus on the importance of mental health which I've found helpful."   

      -Louis Beltran, TPP Peer Mentor

Oakes Bridge is one of the most scenic spots on campus.


Enrique Garcia
Enrique Garcia, TPP Peer Mentor

"To my friends, I explain UCSC’s college system as a series of smaller student communities that are spread out throughout the campus. This makes it much easier for students to make friends and build community - two things that make the college experience more enjoyable. I chose to be affiliated with Oakes College for two reasons. First, my uncle was affiliated with it when he was a student long ago and he absolutely loved it. He said that it was inviting, fun, and eye-opening. Second, I was drawn to Oakes’ mission statement which is: 'Communicating Diversity for a Just Society.' I felt that I would feel right at home given that I am a social justice advocate. Importantly, Oakes also provides many resources to their community members. In addition to housing, it offers dining hall services, volunteer and paid work opportunities, student government, and more! When choosing a college affiliation, I recommend that students choose a college that has a mission statement that aligns with their interests and/or values. This will ultimately make your time in college more enjoyable and wholesome."


Students relaxing outdoors at Kresge College.


Ana Escalante
Ana Escalante, TPP Peer Mentor

"Before applying to UCSC, I had no idea that there were college affiliations. Once I submitted my SIR, I was asked to rank my College affiliation of choice. I was amazed that UCSC had a total of 10 Colleges, all with different themes and mission statements. I decided on Kresge College because it was the first college I visited when I came on a campus tour and just fell in love with the vibe. Kresge reminded me of a small community in the forest. Kresge also houses Services for Transfer and Re-Entry Students (STARS Program). I felt as if I found a home away from home. I have met with the Kresge Advising team and they were extremely helpful in answering my questions/concerns about my graduation progress. I would encourage students to take a virtual tour of all 10 colleges and get to know the mission statement/themes of each. Certain majors gravitate to certain colleges. For example, Rachel Carson College's theme is 'Environment and Society,' so many Environmental Studies and Environmental Science students are drawn to that college. Because of the Transfer Community, Porter College houses the majority of transfer students."

Student Perspectives: FAFSA & Financial Aid

Students who submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the priority deadline are considered for and have the best chance for receiving financial aid. We asked current UCSC students to share their experiences and offer advice on the FAFSA process, financial aid, and paying for college. Read their perspectives below:

From admission through graduation, our advisors are here to help you!


“My initial financial aid offer wasn't enough aid to cover all my school expenses, as my initial financial situation had changed since I had applied to UCSC, nearly a year before. Unfortunately, shortly after the COVID pandemic began, my family and I found ourselves unemployed. We couldn't afford to pay the initial amount my family was expected to pay, according to the FAFSA's Expected Family Contribution (EFC). I found out that UCSC had systems in place to help people like me, who had been financially impacted since they had last filled out the FAFSA. By submitting UCSC's Financial Contribution Appeal aka a Family Contribution Appeal, I was able to get my initial EFC amount dropped to zero. This meant that I would be eligible to receive more aid, and that I would still be able to attend university, despite the setbacks the pandemic introduced. There's really no need to be afraid to ask for help when you need it, because these programs are designed to help you succeed in your educational goals, and are free of any judgments.”

-Tony Estrella, TPP Peer Mentor

The Global Village Café is located in the lobby of McHenry Library.


“At 17-years-old a private university told me to take out a $100,000 loan in order to pursue higher education. Needless to say, I decided to attend my local community college instead. As a transfer student who spent my college years in both community college and now at UCSC, I was worried about the financial aid disappearing just as I managed to transfer into a University because I did not spend the expected two years at a community college. Luckily there are a few ways to ensure that your Cal Grants continue to help you after you transfer. You may apply for a single year extension if you were still classified as a 'freshman' after your first year or when you transfer by using the Cal Grant Transfer Entitlement Award, which will ensure that financial aid will continue when you transfer to a 4-year institution. Applying for and receiving financial help can be more flexible than people might think!”

-Lane Albrecht, TPP Peer Mentor

“UCSC gave me the best financial aid package out of the two other schools that I applied to: UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara. Financial aid has made me focus less on the stressors associated with being buried with student debt and focus more on learning as much as I can as a student. I have developed meaningful relationships with my professors, excelled in their classes, and have had the time to get involved with extracurricular activities."

-Enrique Garcia, TPP Peer Mentor

Students relaxing outside the Humanities and Social Sciences complex.


"As a transfer student, my number one concern was how I was going to afford tuition. Before ever learning about the UC system, I assumed that it was going to be astronomically expensive. To my surprise, it’s more affordable than I thought. Originally, my Cal Grant paid for the majority of my tuition. It offered me a little over $13,000 but due to some unforeseen issues it was taken away. Even though this happened I was able to get a UCSC university grant that matched my original Cal Grant award. UCSC (and all UC’s) offer outstanding programs that are meant to help you when unforeseen dilemmas come about. Here at UCSC, no matter what situation you may find yourself in, there is always help."

-Thomas Lopez, TPP Mentor

Students studying together outside


“One of the reasons I am able to afford to attend UCSC is because of the UC Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan. UC's Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan ensures that you will not have to pay tuition and fees out of your own pocket if you are a California resident whose total family income is less than $80,000 a year and you qualify for financial aid. If you have a sufficient financial need UCSC will give you more grants to help you pay for other things as well. I have gotten a grant that helps pay for my housing as well as health insurance. These grants have allowed me to take out minimal loans and attend UCSC for an extremely affordable price-more affordable than most people think it is.”

-Damiana, TPP Peer Mentor