Challenges accessing higher education, fear of debt, English as a second language – these are just some of the challenges we heard during our Future State series in Merced. On Nov. 8, a number of California Watch staffers traveled to Merced County in the Central Valley to hear directly from the community there about the challenges and opportunities of higher education and what role it will play in the future of the Golden State.
This is just the first in our continuing Future State series (learn more about our upcoming event in Sacramento here). In Merced, we focused in on hearing from students at UC Merced and Merced College.
Here is just some of what was said from the day, directly from the students. Stay tuned for more as we follow up in Merced and the Central Valley.
Have a topic or issue we should be following? Let us know in the comments below or use #FutureCA on Twitter.
Marie McIntosh/California Watch Jessie Johnson of Merced College
"A lot of people are socially unaware of what's going on. I believe I'm only as strong as the person next to me, so if I learn something, I share it."
Marie McIntosh/California Watch Joaquin Alvarado, Blanca Soto and Damaris Rahey (right) at Merced College
Damaris Rahey: "I immigrated here with family at 13. English (is) hard for me. We don't have the documents to do so much stuff. To get scholarships, get financial aid, internships, to get experience for my career and I can't do it. It's hard to imagine that there are so many students with those opportunities that just don't do it."
Meghann Farnsworth/California Watch Gabriela Vega of UC Merced
"I am the first and oldest to go to college. I kinda like the countryside. I was looking forward to an environment like this – to achieve in the same place and not (drop) out. Build a business and make it international, that's what I want to do. I'm studying sociology and want to contribute to the community here."
Meghann Farnsworth/California Watch Celene Rodriguez (standing) of UC Merced
"I'm the only one who left home. My brother is in community college, my sister is at Cal State LA. In high school, they tell you it's better if you dorm in the school because you get the whole college experience. I didn't think I'd get in (to UC Merced), but they accepted me."