… got the T-shirt

Glenda Flores
“The classroom dynamic changes when I wear the FirstGen t-shirt,” she said. “Students feel more comfortable participating in lectures and sharing their experiences. They are more likely to attend office hours, which has a significant impact on academic outcomes.”
Steve Zylius / UCI

UCI’s Glenda Flores wants her first-generation students to know that she’s been there and done that

A simple cotton T-shirt can make a major statement. Just ask Glenda Flores, associate professor of Chicano/Latino studies and sociology at UCI. On the first day of class – as she did last year – she’ll wear a shirt that identifies her as a first-generation college graduate. It’s a gesture that resonates with UCI’s student body, more than half of whom are the first in their families to attend college. Read more.

Mentorship matters

Jeanett Castellanos
“It’s not simply a diploma that will guarantee extra money and social mobility … but a degree that leads to a meaningful career path that will … enable valuable contributions to society,” says UCI social sciences lecturer Jeanett Castellanos of her approach to teaching, which emphasizes the role of giving back. UCI

A UCI professor changed Jeanett Castellanos’ life 25 years ago, and she’s been paying it forward ever since

Her list of “kids” – more than 150 Anteaters – reads like a Who’s Who at the nation’s top graduate schools, from Harvard University to The Ohio State University to UC Berkeley, while others hold high-level posts at esteemed institutions throughout the U.S. as professors, psychologists and administrators.

For Jeanett Castellanos, or “Dr. C,” as she’s known around campus, these former students aren’t just individuals who passed through her classes. They and her current charges are her mentees, her academic family, her kids – and a majority are first-generation, underrepresented college students. From the time they enter UCI until they leave, she commits years of her time to developing them as young professionals vested in their communities. And when they graduate, they take with them an edict from the social sciences lecturer: Pay it forward.

It’s a lesson Castellanos learned more than 25 years ago from her own mentor, Joseph White, UCI professor emeritus of psychology, and she’s been putting it into practice ever since. Read more.