All three now are students at the University of California’s newest campus. They say they were drawn to UC Merced because of its size, age, academics and wide range of research and other opportunities.
Sharing the same campus was just another bonus, say the trio from Ridgecrest in northeastern Kern County.
“It’s great having my family at UC Merced,” said Erin, 26.
Their mother, Mary, helped lead the way. A coworker recommended the campus, and Mary thought the small community would be an advantage for Justin, who was first to enroll at UC Merced.
Mary said she and her husband, Keith, never dreamed that all three of their children would wind up on the same campus.
“But I think it has been great that they have each other as a support system,” she said. “And we only have one academic calendar and one place to travel to visit.”
Justin, 21, arrived on campus in Fall 2008. Dylan, 19, and Erin — who transferred after community college — arrived in Fall 2010.
Now, the two brothers are roommates and also work at the university library. Sister Erin isn’t far away — she works in the bookstore.
The siblings also are separated by their academic choices. Each is pursuing a major in a different school (Engineering, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts). All three say they’ve had great opportunities at UC Merced that might not have been available on another campus.
Dylan, who is majoring in biological sciences , said he’s enjoyed the chance to form relationships with professors and teaching assistants.
Justin made a lasting connection with David C. Noelle , an assistant professor in the School of Engineering, after expressing interest in his research. He began working for Noelle about a week after meeting with the professor during his sophomore year.
“I’m not sure that would have been as easy or as quick at another university,” said Justin, who is studying computer science and engineering.
Erin, a senior majoring in anthropology , made a similar connection. Last summer, she and several other UC Merced students traveled to Belize to take part in an archaeological project with Holley Moyes , an assistant professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts.
“There are a lot of opportunities to work closely with professors,” she said.
Commencement is next for Erin, who will finish in 2012 and plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in archaeology.
Justin hopes to finish in 2013 and may consider graduate school. Dylan could graduate in 2014; he’s considering a career in zoology.
For now, the three Ray siblings are enjoying college life and the chance to be together.