Class of 2020’s Rising Stars
With graduation ceremonies taking place this weekend, the Class of 2020 has much to celebrate. More than 9,000 Tritons will mark one of life’s biggest milestones by earning a degree from UC San Diego. In addition to academic pursuits, many are leaving the campus a better place than they found it. They have made connections with classmates and community members, and overcome obstacles to become the global scholars the world needs to address pressing global issues. Here are their stories:
Major: Political Science—Data Analytics; History
College: Earl Warren College
When political science student Adarsh Parthasarathy transferred to UC San Diego, he was surprised to see that there was no transfer center waiting for him, especially on a campus with an undergraduate population where one-third of the students are transfers. Last summer, he began to collaborate with Student Success Services within Student Affairs to get the Triton Transfer Hub up and running. The efforts led to the establishment of the Hub in winter 2020. It provides resources, services and programs to empower Triton transfer students to achieve their goals as they navigate UC San Diego’s academic and cultural landscape. “I fundamentally believe that a campus is made better by its transfer students, who come from diverse backgrounds and enter university life in myriad stages of their own personal and professional lives,” Parthasarathy said. Since transfers only have about two years to take full advantage of all that UC San Diego has to offer, the Hub hopes to better connect students with the campus.
Parthasarathy now works as a Transfer Peer Coach, where he and his peers support transfer students’ academic, personal and professional success through a variety of coaching programs and services. All student coaches are NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) Certified Peer Educators trained through the College of Reading and Learning Association certified program. “As a member of the inaugural class of peer coaches, we are still defining our work,” he said. “The entire team is constantly on the lookout for ways to improve, diversify and spread our image and message.” With these challenges in mind, Parthasarathy is optimistic about the future, especially now that transfer students have a place of support.
In addition to working as a peer coach, he is also involved with Associated Students as the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs. “I only interviewed for this position because I lost my run for another, but it since has become the capstone extracurricular experience of my time here,” he said. “It even gave me the position and standing to be involved with establishing the Triton Transfer Hub.”
As the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Parthasarathy has served on numerous committees and workshops. Some of the activities he has been involved with include being on the search committee for the inaugural Associate Vice Chancellor for Educational Innovation, a role he helped define. He also participated in the Eighth College Workshop, which helped set the theme and general education requirements for the new college. “Many times, I was the only undergraduate student in those meetings,” he said. “Without this critical input that our student government provides, UC San Diego would be a vastly different place.”
After graduation, Parthasarathy plans to attend University of Texas at Austin School of Law. He then hopes to clerk within the federal circuit and pursue a career either in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division or within the Solicitor’s General’s Office. “Long term, I hope to one day return to a campus—maybe even this one!—to teach,” he said.
Laura Alejandra Morejon Ramirez
Major: Aerospace Engineering; French Language Studies minor
College: Revelle College
Moving can be difficult, let alone right before your senior year of high school to a whole new country. Laura Morejon Ramirez and her family moved to the U.S. from Madrid, Spain just weeks before the first day of her senior year in high school. The idea of going to college in the U.S. was both exciting and terrifying. She didn’t know how to navigate the process, from writing her essays, to taking the SATs, and submitting her applications on time. Picking a college isn’t easy either, but once she saw the beautiful beaches, the perennially sunny weather and the proximity to culturally infused cuisine, she knew UC San Diego was the choice for her.
Once at UC San Diego, Morejon Ramirez dove headfirst into campus activities by getting involved with Muir Musical, Triton Television and more. One of her biggest passions was working with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a pre-professional aerospace engineering organization on campus. This year as the chairperson, she managed a board of 11 members and put together events that targeted the aerospace community, such as panel discussions with industry professionals and NASA broadcasts. Morejon Ramirez was also a part of the Undergraduate Cohort of Gordon Scholars at the UC San Diego Gordon Center, where she continued to learn about leadership in engineering and discovered ways she could help her community through engineering.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Morejon Ramirez felt that her most profound experience at UC San Diego focused on her struggles with anxiety and depression—and how she overcame them. “I would write about my slow, painful and silent road to recovery and self-love, a road I’m still on,” she said. “The way I was able to turn my life around over the last years, and to finally fall in love with myself and my school, and to be grateful for what I was given, is the most relevant experience I would ever want to share with the world.”
When Morejon Ramirez received an email from campus administration that spring quarter would be offered to students remotely due to the quickly developing coronavirus pandemic, these issues came to resurface again. “The prospect of a fun-filled spring break, an unforgettable spring quarter of senior year, and worst of all, a well-deserved graduation ceremony, suddenly felt like a distant dream that would never be realized,” she said.
Her mental health was affected by the reality of this situation as she came to terms with the idea that these next months would look much different than what she planned, yet she persevered and says she’s better off for it. “I might not get to spend my last quarter as an undergrad on campus as I wished, but I’m learning so much about myself and I’m grateful for it,” she said.
After graduation, Morejon Ramirez is moving to Atlanta to pursue a master’s degree in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech. She was awarded a graduate research assistantship and will be doing research at Georgia Tech’s Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL), a huge research laboratory that aims to solve some of today’s biggest design problems in aeronautics. “During these next two years, I hope to find my place in the aerospace world, and to keep improving the leadership and technical skills I developed during my time at UC San Diego,” she said.