UC Merced’s inaugural class arrived last fall with tremendous éclat surrounding the university’s Grand Opening Celebration. But what’s it like for a student who lands on campus now? Ask Sherri McCoy, an ebullient transfer student from Ceres, Calif., who started classes at UC Merced in January.
“Everything’s so new and shiny,” she said with a smile. “Other schools I looked at are falling apart in comparison. People here are really conscious of how the campus looks - picking up their trash and keeping it nice.”
Like about 275 of her classmates, McCoy lives off campus. Next year, even more UC Merced students will be living in the surrounding communities, since the 600 beds in on-campus housing will be mostly filled by freshmen. McCoy says she’s found Merced a pleasant place to live and has made her apartment into a laid-back hangout for friends watching movies and relaxing together. In her downtime, she enjoys karaoke in some of downtown Merced’s night spots.
“I wear my UC Merced shirt, and that always gets me some positive feedback,” she said.
McCoy also participated in the recent “Kat Walk” fashion show organized by a group of fellow students. As someone with previous modeling and acting experience, she jumped right in to show support for fashion and personal expression for people of all shapes and sizes.
On the academic side, McCoy says she’s noticed an emphasis on group projects and teamwork in her classes. She’s majoring in World Cultures and History with plans to go into writing or law.
“All your teachers know you,” she explained. “They’re helpful; you know where to find them if you need to ask a question.”
She has also appreciated the chance to influence UC Merced’s future plans. On a survey of student interest in foreign languages, she got to express her passion for American Sign Language (ASL). “It’s good to be able to give your input,” she said.
All in all, McCoy says, there’s plenty of room for students to have their say at UC Merced for the next several years at least. All they need to do is speak up and express themselves.