Thriving with support

Donors help students learn and grow

Behind every student at UC Davis is an untold story of personal growth—and for many, struggle. This is where donors make the difference by funding scholarships and other student success programs offered through the Division of Student Affairs.

The Division of Student Affairs assists all students and members of the campus community in their academic, social, cultural, personal and civic development. More than 20 programs, services and facilities bolster community and belonging, health and wellness, career preparation and more.

In fiscal year 2021-22, more than 1,800 donors gave $4.05 million to the division to help Aggies on their journeys to success—an immense impact, especially for the 67 percent who qualify for financial aid and 38 percent who are first-generation college students.

Here's the story of one mechanical and aerospace engineering student who found relief with donor support: 

From manual harvesting to engineering

Growing up in the Salinas Valley and working in the fields since the age of 14, Jesus Trujillo ’23 knows manual field labor. At UC Davis, he is taking a new approach to it by studying mechanical engineering and precision agriculture.

Jesus Trujillo wearing a cowboy had and standing on his family's crop field
Jesus Trujillo at the UC Davis Student Farm.

“In my experience, money makes decisions for you,” said Trujillo, who is planning a career in automated harvesting. “UC Davis was a clear choice because of the financial aid and scholarship I received, and it’s one of the best ag schools.”

As a first-generation college student, Trujillo found navigating higher education a challenge. Although he always had his parents’ support, he said he could not seek academic advice from his father, a tractor driver, or his mother, who works on a field weeding crew. Instead, he was able to rely on connections he made at UC Davis for support.

Trujillo began working as a lead student farmer in fall 2021 at the donor-supported UC Davis Student Farm. Trujillo gained leadership skills by guiding groups of students to complete tasks on the 23-acre farm.

“The farm allows students to grow and donate produce to centers on campus while learning about food security and food justice,” Trujillo said. “To continue this great work, we’re always in need for more support. Donors can help improve our equipment and supplies.”

Trujillo said the Student Farm’s welcoming environment gave him a feeling of community. He ended the academic year on a high note, making the College of Engineering’s Dean's Honors List in the spring.

“Working with great people on the Student Farm gave me the confidence to continue working on my degree and career,” Trujillo said. “I want to make the most of my time here and I’m looking forward to next year.”

This article was originally featured in the fall 2022 issue of In Greater Focus, the magazine of the Expect Greater campaign published by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at UC Davis. 

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