Making the ‘Right Choice’
By Tatiana Sanchez
LEAD scholar Jocelyne Pulido ’21 reflects on her decision to transfer to SCU after feeling lost at a larger university.
Jocelyne “Joce” Pulido ’21 knew she made the right choice by transferring to Santa Clara before she even stepped onto the campus for her first day of class.
After feeling lost and insecure at the previous university she attended – a sprawling campus with more than 30,000 students–Pulido craved an intimate learning environment where she could connect closely to professors and peers. SCU lived up to that and more.
Pulido graduates this week with a degree in Studio Art and a minor in Innovation, Design Thinking and Entrepreneurial Mindset. A member of SCU’s LEAD Scholars program, which helps first-generation college students with academic success, community engagement and career guidance, Pulido racked up an admirable list of accomplishments in her more than two years at SCU. They include: being named Provost Research Fellow and Healthcare Innovation Fellow, participation in the winter 2020 Arizona-Mexico Border immersion program, social justice chair and tech lead for the University Honors Program and designing an inexpensive prosthetic for a community in India for the Jaipur Foot Organization, among many other accomplishments.
Pulido, the daughter of Mexican immigrants from San Jose, recently reflected on her decision to transfer and the transformative impact it had on her college experience.
When did you know that you made the right decision by transferring to Santa Clara?
Before the first day of school. I was enrolled in some upper division courses that I wasn't really sure about. So, I took it upon myself to go on Course Eval and look through classes. I found some that were interesting and emailed some professors. I was expecting them to say, ‘Oh, they're full.’ But I emailed them and introduced myself saying, ‘I'm a transfer student, is there any possible way to get into the class’ and didn't think much of it. I didn't think people were going to answer. But what I really loved about it is how many professors responded enthusiastically welcoming me into the community and saying ‘For sure, we’ll let you into the course. We can figure something out.’ And I thought, this was the right choice. I met the professors on the first day of classes and they really wanted to know me off the bat. They were like, where are you transferring from? What’s your major? How can I make you feel more comfortable? Getting to know me personally. I feel like I didn't get that from my previous university. Off the bat, I felt so welcomed here.
What has this experience meant to you as a first-generation college student?
It means so much to me. I'm very grateful that I got to obtain a college degree, especially since my parents barely finished middle school. They didn't even get to attend high school. I’m very grateful to get these experiences. I told my mom, “I do these things partially for me and partially for you guys.” It’s such a group effort. I’m eternally grateful that I got this opportunity and got to represent my people and help out other first-gen students.
I understand you were able to work on a team that helped design an affordable prosthetic for amputees in rural India. What was that like?
My senior year, I had to do a senior project. I was really interested in doing something biomedical-related, possibly in prosthetics. One of my mentors, Dr. Asuri, a bioengineering professor, told me that there was a graduate student working on a prosthetic hand for Indian amputees. The main goal was to make a prosthetic hand under $250, which was quite a feat to figure out. I was more than happy to take that on—I really wanted to get in-depth experience about how this works and learn some new skills. So, I partnered up with the bioengineering graduate student who physically had the prosthetic hand and I was doing the designing portion, doing research on what we could use to cover the hand. One of the main things I did was pick out a glove that had different color skin tones, so it at least matched the amputee so that it wouldn’t stand out.
What are your plans after graduation?
I ultimately want to attend graduate school. I decided that I'm going to take a year to get some job experience out in the real world. But I don't think school is done for me yet. I don't think that chapter has closed. I’ve been focusing on some internships right now. I am a UX/UI designer intern for a startup called Locals, which was founded by some SCU students. It was established in March and I’m helping them design an app.
After doing some soul searching a couple months before graduation, deciding what I want to do, what I want to pursue, I figured out that the kind of job I take on doesn’t really matter to me as long as it has the output of being beneficial to people and helping somebody in any possible way. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s a business job, a healthcare job, a design job, as long as it’s benefiting somebody. That’s the route that I'm going to take and I’m happy to see where it takes me.
What advice would you give to students who are thinking about transferring to SCU?
Think about what you want out of a university. Santa Clara has that Jesuit mindset about educating the whole person, which I really loved and was drawn toward when deciding where to transfer. So, figure out what is best for you, what you would want from college and where you want to go. It doesn’t matter if you’ve figured out what you want to pursue as a career yet. Figure out what you want out of college.