Editor’s note: In Who’s That Aggie?, The California Aggie finds a student on campus and investigates their background and experiences at UC Davis.
A photograph of a student spreading her arms in an attempt to protect her peers during the Nov. 18, 2011 protests can be found on the Facebook pages of dozens of UC Davis students. Many said they posted the photograph as their profile picture to honor the solidarity and courage exemplified by the photo.
The student in the photo is Tatiana Bush, a fifth-year political science and sociology double major. While some may recognize her from the photograph, few know that the former ASUCD senator and current student director for African Diaspora Cultivating Education (ACE) is graduating this year to pursue a career in education in Southern California.
After transferring to UC Davis from San Francisco State University three years ago, Bush said it was a struggle to fit in and find a community.
“I’ve never had a big problem with academics. But making friends was kind of hard. I spent my entire first year here sitting in my room playing video games. I might as well have still been in high school. But once I did find a community of people, I found tutoring connections, internships and job opportunities,” Bush said.
Bush subsequently became a member of the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee, a student outreach assistant for the Early Academic Education Outreach program, the Gender and Sexuality coordinator and ultimately the student director of ACE. While the mission statement for ACE emphasizes recruitment and retention of students of African descent, Bush says that her work with ACE serves to recruit, retain and show students the social benefits of attending UC Davis.
“ACE is pretty much the heart and soul of the African Diaspora at UC Davis. Our job is to intertwine the academics with the social aspect of college and give students a resource with which they can use to make friends, network and advance their education. We show them how their personal intersectionalities can be extremely beneficial,” Bush said.
In addition to her work with the Chancellor and student resource programs, Bush was elected to be an ASUCD senator from 2010 to 2011. While she originally thought the work would be easy, Bush said that attempting to pass a bill for alternative graduation celebrations proved how difficult her role as a senator was.
“It was so hard. In every job there comes the one day that solidifies how hard your job really is. I thought I could easily woo everyone into voting my way. If I could do it all over, I would change some things. But it made me realize what politics are really like,” Bush said.
Despite all of the roles she has played on campus, she said that her most memorable moment can be encompassed with two words: pepper spray. After the pepper spray incident during the Occupy protest, she was nominated to be on the Reynoso Task Force, a board created to evaluate some of the university policies in regard to the incident.
The soon-to-be graduate said her extra time at UC Davis was necessary to solidify her future plans.
“I could have graduated last year, but I had no clue what I was doing. My roommates graduated and left because they had found jobs. I didn’t have anything. It took that extra year for me to realize that I wanted to be in education. I got a position with Teach for America, and soon I will be moving to L.A. to teach social studies at the junior high or high school level,” Bush said.
Osahon Ekhator, senior political science major and close friend of Bush, said her likable personality attracts people.
“She inspires people. Her personality is infectious. People want to follow her and see what she’s doing. It’s easy for people to believe in the stuff that she does,” Ekhator said.
Bush’s ASUCD and ACE intern, junior economics major Jerome Wren, said that he’s learned the art of persuasion from Bush.
“She has an uncanny ability to make people do whatever she
wants,” Wren said.
Bush said that if she could give one piece of advice to an incoming first-year, it would be to make older friends and take initiative.
“Mistakes are beneficial. But you can’t make all the mistakes in the world. So make older friends, and learn from their mistakes. And, do what you talk about. I’m so tired of the lethargic and apathetic state of mind for this generation. If not now, when?” Bush said.
KELSEY SMOOT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.