UCMAA Board Member Jacqueline Yanez

Degree: Psychology/BA/2010

Occupation: Social work practitioner, Fresno County Department of Social Services

Current residence: Merced

Board term: October 2011 to October 2013

As a graduating senior at UC Merced, Jacqueline Yanez (Psychology/BA/2010) chose to serve on her graduating class committee because she wanted to make sure her peers knew what resources were available to them. With the same goal in mind, she applied to serve on the UC Merced Alumni Association Board.

Having completed her master's in social work from the University of Southern California (May 2012), Yanez knows that the classes she took as an undergraduate at UC Merced and the opportunities she had here --like studying abroad in Madrid -- not only served her well in her graduate studies courses, but are helping her build her career because cultural competency is such a large part of the work she does.

Why do you think the UCMAA is important?
It’s our community; without the UCMAA we all would be scattered. It facilitates networking and expanding our networks not only within your class but the entire alumni population, which is an ever-expanding community. A few weeks ago, I was able to attend a UCMAA event in Fresno where three ’11 graduates and a few other classes were there; it’s neat to be able to meet fellow alumni.

How do you hope to affect our alumni?
Being on the board is a good opportunity to become an advocate for the students, school, alumni and friends of the university. I wanted to stay involved and be an advocate.

Why did you choose to come to UC Merced?
I chose to attend UC Merced because I thought it would be a great opportunity to get a quality education in my hometown. Also, I have always liked taking chances and trying out new things. UC Merced was just a couple years old when I enrolled in fall 2007 so I figured it was a great opportunity to try out something so new and fresh.

What was the first thing you did post-graduation?
I finished my bachelor's in Fall 2010 and spent the Spring 2011 semester as a substitute teacher in local high schools. In the meantime, I was also applying to graduate school and preparing myself for that journey.

What is your proudest accomplishment since graduating?
Getting my master's from University of Southern California because it allows me to do what I absolutely love to do, helping people get a little closer to the goals they set for themselves.

Which of your courses from UC Merced has proven most valuable to your career and life?
I think I’d have to say that clinical neuropsychology and abnormal psychology with Jim McDiarmid have probably proven most valuable to my career. They definitely gave me a head start into and background knowledge for my current career, and I am extremely glad to have taken them when I did. Forensic psychology with McDiarmid was also helpful, providing some insight while I was an intern at juvenile hall. I must say also, that I also absolutely loved taking Literatura de la Revolucion Mexicana with Professor Manuel Martin-Rodriguez.

Were you involved in any clubs or organizations? If so, which ones?
I was a research assistant and lab manager for Professor Michelle Chouinard’s cognitive development lab. I was also a part of the Chicano Latino Commencement Committee for two years. I was part of the first cohort of students to participate in the Latino Leadership Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School. Also, I was on the graduation committee for the Spring 2011 commencement.

Did having experience working in a lab as an undergraduate help you with graduate school?
It helped me more than I thought. I was able to apply the experience to my research classes and have the background knowledge I needed to succeed.

How has your education from UC Merced helped you to reach your ultimate life goal?
I don’t know that I’ve reached my ultimate life goal, but I’m definitely on that path. I really do believe that things happen for a reason. I think that starting my journey at UC Merced has definitely opened many doors and provided me with multiple experiences that have led me to where I am today in my personal and professional life. Again, the various classes I took, the organizations I became involved with, studying abroad, working as a student assistant in Admissions, participating in the Latino Leadership Initiative, they are all things that I don’t know I would have done on another campus. I am extremely thankful for what opportunities UC Merced provided and how those opportunities have helped boost my education, life and career.

What advice do you have for current students?
Get involved! Join clubs and research labs, go to office hours, study abroad and get out of your comfort zone. Take classes you think you may not be interested in, you just never know… Definitely take advantage of every opportunity and resource you can; the school has many to offer. I can’t stress that enough.

What advice do you have for your fellow alumni?
Stay involved. Attend local alumni events; stay up to date on what’s going on with our alma mater. Visit the campus occasionally, if possible. Stay in touch with organizations you were a part of and mentor current students. Networking with peers is also important, and staying connected with the UCMAA can assist with that. If you’re not sure what to do next, making a self-inventory of yourself and what you’ve learned and enjoyed most about the classes you’ve taken can help. Making a pros and cons list of that while preparing a resume can be a great tool for learning about what kinds of career you do and don’t want.

Student activities: Student research assistant, lab manager for Professor Michelle Chouinard’s Cognitive Development Lab; Chicano Latino Commencement Committee; and 2011 Class Committee 

Board committees: Nominating