A GLOBAL MINDSET
In October, newly minted President Michael Drake visited UC Merced to kick off his tour of the system’s ten campuses and commended the university’s progressive identity.
“(UC Merced) is a national leader in the number of first-generation students, students of color and those from underrepresented backgrounds, the percentage of Pell-eligible students, and the success and graduation rates of those students,” Drake said. “UC Merced stands alone as the national leader in combining these aspects that we want to continue to elevate.”
Many are also the children of immigrants or are immigrants themselves.
Immigration is set to significantly shift the nation’s demographics in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts 2030 will be a pivotal year because, for the first time, immigration is projected to overtake natural increase as the primary driver of population growth. Non-Hispanic Whites are expected to lose their majority while Hispanics and Asians will double their presence and the black population will remain stable, according to Pew Research Center.
UC Merced’s newest chancellor and diverse student body composition reflects this changing tide. More than half of the students who attend UC Merced are Hispanic, followed by nearly 20% Asian, 10% White and 5% black. The multicultural aspect of the university is a hallmark of the newest UC, which also enrolls the highest percentage of undocumented students in the UC system.
“As my own family history demonstrates so clearly, education is perhaps the most powerful mechanism in America for social mobility — and that is a crying need for young people in the Central Valley,” Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz said. “UC Merced has carried out this mission of building both education and social capital for the men and women who are the future of this county.”
As my own family history demonstrates so clearly,
education is perhaps the most powerful mechanism in America
for social mobility — and that is a crying need for young people in the
Central Valley. UC Merced has carried out this mission of building
both educatioN anD social capital for the men and women who are
the future of this county.
-CHANCELLOR Juan SAnchez MuNoz
Rochelle Mulondo graduated this past spring with a major in public health and minor in management and business economics. She was born in the United States but grew up in Uganda, her parents’ home country.
“My only real memories were in Uganda,” Mulondo said. “So, when I moved back to the United States in high school, I did feel like an immigrant, regardless of my passport or nationality.”
Deeply connected and passionate about her family’s heritage, Mulondo participated in the UCDC program, which allows UC students to intern in the nation’s capital for a semester. While there, she worked for Congresswoman Karen Bass of Los Angeles, who served on the Committee of Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights.
Inspired by the exposure she received in Washington, D.C., Mulondo returned to UC Merced in search of a course specifically on immigration. She settled on economics Professor Greg Wright’s course on the “Economics of Immigration.”
Economists tend to focus on the economic impact of immigration, rather than the immigrants themselves. But Wright, understanding the personal nature of this topic to the UC Merced student population, asks students to personalize the issue.
i chose to look at the issue of ‘brain drain’ in Africa. The economic ideas
and theories I learned in class basically described what I had been
seeing in my own personal life as a first-generation American with
close ties to Uganda.
“The class allowed us to look into our own experience, because Professor Wright let us look at issues that we found interesting,” Mulondo said. “I chose to look at the issue of ‘brain drain’ in Africa. The economic ideas and theories I learned in class basically described what I had been seeing in my own personal life as a first-generation American with close ties to Uganda.”
Brain drain is the phenomenon in which skilled natives leave their countries or regions for educational and professional opportunities elsewhere. This, in turn, leaves their home depleted of qualified people to transfer their knowledge and bolster the economy.
Mulondo recently started working for a public relations firm in Sacramento focused on social innovation and philanthropy. She is also studying for the LSAT. She intends to go to law school and hopes to use her law degree to impact the health sector in Uganda.
“I am interested in health law because of the disparities I’ve seen back home, growing up,” Mulondo said. “I want to basically have an internationally focused career where I am working with people back home to empower Ugandans, specifically with the focus of women’s health.”
Mulondo’s interest in paying her experience forward is indicative of the civic-minded students UC Merced draws. Often, their struggles give them a more compassionate, holistic view of the world.