Student Affairs Fellow Heads to Africa with Fond Memories of UC Merced
This summer, Student Affairs Fellow Tiffany Williams will begin a new chapter in her life. And although she will be a world away from home, UC Merced will stay in her heart.
"This place becomes a part of you. After investing so much, it kind of becomes your baby," she said.
Williams will spend the next two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa educating people about HIV and AIDS. The 23-year-old said she is excited about the experience but not to count her out of the campus loop just yet.
"I told all my residents that I will come back for their graduation. You see them come in as freshman and you get attached so easily," she said.
Williams said she has grown close to all the students she has counseled as a fellow and resident advisor, helping them get acquainted with campus and university life. She has helped produce workshops for undeclared students who are having trouble picking a major and just recently an academic jeopardy workshop for those who have struggled with the demands of higher education.
One of her biggest contributions to UC Merced, she said, is her knowledge of the city. A Merced native, Williams left town to study psychology and drama at UC Irvine. After graduating last summer she decided to come back to work in her hometown. Her local background has made Williams into an automatic mentor for Central Valley students that attend UC Merced.
"They automatically brighten up when they hear that I'm from here," she said. "They're surrounded by people from the Bay Area and Southern California, so I think they can relate to me a lot easier."
Staff and club members are always eager to pick her brain about who the best local disc jockey is or which business would be willing to contribute to fundraising. She has even done some fundraising of her own. She held a penny drive for the local animal shelter and helped spearhead a pen-pal program with the juvenile detention center.
"I thought this would be a unique opportunity to help the UC and give back to my town by using education," she said.