Little Lightbulbs Along the Way
By Tatiana Sanchez
ASG Vice President Ann Codiga ’21 said she felt “like an ant” at her first college. Transferring to Santa Clara changed that, and prepared her for law school.
Ann Codiga ’21 says her first year at the University of Wisconsin was adventurous and fulfilling by all accounts.
She had excellent friends, thought-provoking courses, and even landed a role as a grassroots campaign intern for the university’s student government.
Yet something was missing.
“Walking around campus, I felt like an ant,” said Codiga, student body vice president for Santa Clara’s Associated Student Government. “I would go all day without seeing anyone I recognized. I was in class with like 300 kids for most of my classes. I really wanted to be part of a smaller community. I was doing everything I wanted to do but I didn’t feel quite right.”
Codiga, a Santa Cruz native, knew she wanted to return to the Golden State for her sophomore year and applied only to three Bay Area schools. Her brother was a senior at Santa Clara at the time and she felt it was a natural fit for her, too.
Now just weeks away from graduating, Codiga is reflecting on her fateful decision to transfer to a much smaller, more intimate campus—a decision that allowed her to find an authentic, close knit community where she thrived.
“You really can create your own community here as well as be a part of community. That was something that I really wanted,” said Codiga, a communication major and urban education minor. “I loved the idea of being in a class with 30 people. It was so different to sit down my first day of class sophomore year and know that the professor was going to know everyone’s name and that I was going to get to know these people in my class.”
The aha! moment—that moment where Codiga realized she’d made the right choice by transferring to SCU—didn’t come right away, she said. In fact, she struggled to adjust at first. It was a gradual process punctured by many small “lightbulb” moments along the way, including the friends she met in her classes and ASGSCU and her study abroad experience in San Sebastian, Spain.
A big part of Codiga’s life at SCU has centered around ASGSCU. She started as traditions chair of the community development branch as a sophomore, helping bolster school spirit by organizing interactive events. Her team once brought a pony to a men’s basketball game against Gonzaga, led a speed dating event in Benson and often played music outside of Benson on Fridays.
As vice president, Codiga oversaw ASG elections and largely focused on the inner-workings of the 55 member organization. “I also get to work on community building,” she said. “It's been difficult with Zoom but trying to get everyone excited and working together on projects—I also get to push some of my own projects forward as well—it's been really cool because that was something I knew I wanted to do in ASG. And now it's kind of all come full circle.”
Though someone as gregarious and outgoing as Codiga may appear to fit in best in a big crowd, she appreciates and thrives in smaller settings, said Tedd Vanadilok, director of the Center for Student Involvement.
“Research shows that sense of belonging is the number one factor for college satisfaction for students,” said Vanadilok. “Ann really does cherish the smaller tight knit community we have at Santa Clara. I think that really helped her get to the next level of what she could really contribute to campus community. It wasn’t like she had a bad experience at Wisconsin. But there was that one thing that was missing and that was that sense of belonging.”
Codiga is headed to law school at George Washington University in the fall. Her advice to potential transfer students? Don’t be afraid to drown out others’ opinions on college and think on your own terms.
“If you’re thinking about a different school or thinking about Santa Clara, try your best to center yourself in this process,” Codiga said. “I think that will help silence the what ifs, just trusting that you did what felt right.”