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Monday, December 5, 2022

From childhood bookworm to UC Davis English alumna

Straying from tradition and paving a new path for myself 

By JELENA LAPUZ

When I first began my undergraduate career at UC Davis as an English major, I felt extremely apprehensive about the future that lay before me. As the eldest daughter in an immigrant family, I did something rather unexpected: I strayed from a more traditional career path and decided to pursue a degree in the arts. My family and friends had initially expected me to pursue something in business or medicine, but I had been an avid reader and writer since childhood and could not ignore my love for stories. I knew I wanted to pursue a career related to writing, but at the time, I did not know exactly what that would entail. 

Although my family and friends came to support my decision, I started my undergraduate career feeling a bit insecure. Being the only English major in my graduating class at high school, I became accustomed to hearing questions like “What can you do with an English degree?” and “Do you want to be a teacher?” There was this notion — whether it was directly or indirectly stated — that pursuing a degree in English guaranteed limited career outcomes and poor financial prospects.

There is a common misconception that people who major in the arts do so because they are not intelligent enough to pursue something in STEM, but my decision to pursue an English degree had less to do with my (perceived) intelligence level and more to do with my passion for writing.”

Oftentimes, I felt like others looked down on me for pursuing a degree in the humanities. There is a common misconception that people who major in the arts do so because they are not intelligent enough to pursue something in STEM, but my decision to pursue an English degree had less to do with my (perceived) intelligence level and more to do with my passion for writing. 

Although I initially struggled with getting involved in writing-related endeavors on campus, the COVID-19 pandemic allowed me more time to write. In April 2020, I became a staff writer for The California Aggie. I wrote weekly articles for the city news desk for a little over a year, during which time I was able to interview and build supportive relationships with various industry professionals and Davis and Sacramento area residents of diverse backgrounds. By making a continuous effort to understand the people I interviewed, I was able to gain a better understanding of the needs of our community and write more well-rounded articles as a result.

Throughout the pandemic, I had the opportunity to explore different types of writing. My position as staff writer for The Aggie allowed me to explore journalistic writing while I explored other genres of writing on the side. My blog post “Exploring and Expressing Creativity in Animal Crossing: New Horizons” was selected to be featured on the Mondavi Center website. In addition, some of my poems were featured in Third Iris Zine

In June 2021, I became the outreach director for The California Aggie, and I stopped writing articles in order to focus on more communications-related writing. Although I realized towards the end of college that I wanted to pursue other styles of writing instead of journalism, that same love for stories that made me pursue an English degree never changed.

Written by: Jelena Lapuz 

Jelena Lapuz joined The Aggie in spring 2020 as a staff writer on the city news desk and later became the first outreach director for The Aggie in June 2021. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English with a creative writing emphasis and a minor in professional writing.