This reflection is part of an ongoing series highlighting notable Class of 2012 University of San Diego graduates. Jose Rosales Chavez took full advantage of the many opportunities USD has to offer. He founded the Minority Association for Pre-health Students (MAPS) club, participated in University Ministry’s Tijuana Spring Breakthrough immersion trip, was a part of several multicultural clubs and committees on campus, and was a recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship. He majored in anthropology and will be pursuing his PhD in Global Health at Arizona State University next fall.
I was born and raised in Mexico. I came to the United States at the age of 14 knowing that a good education was fundamental if I wanted to succeed in life. Although the transition to the new culture and the language was not easy, I quickly adapted and made my way to college. I was granted the opportunity to attend our beautiful University of San Diego thanks to the Gates Millennium Scholarship and the financial assistance USD provided me with.
As a first-generation student, the transition to college was not going to be easy. However, USD places a great emphasis in helping and retaining students like me. I was so grateful when I was contacted by the Student Support Services program on campus. They helped me with the transition and empowered me to do my best.
At USD, I had the opportunity to grow as a leader. During my time, I was part of several multicultural clubs and committees, and I also served leadership positions. If that was not enough, a group of friends and I also created another club on campus: the Minority Association for Pre-health Students (MAPS). Likewise, I was part of the University Ministry’s Tijuana Spring Breakthrough immersion trip to Tijuana. As part of this trip I was constantly challenged by the problems happening to our neighbors on the other side of the border. My participation in this program reminded me of how easy we take for granted the opportunities and privileges we have while others can only dream about them.
The best thing that could have ever happened to me at USD was being confused about what I wanted to become. Yeah, it is true. I came to USD believing I wanted to be a medical doctor and I wanted to study biology. I did not want to be the student who ended up switching halfway through college, but that was me and I am glad I did. My junior year was pivotal for the rest of my time at this university. That year, I decided a medical career was not for me. Hence I switched from biology to anthropology.
That same year, USD’s McNair Scholars Program found me. Thanks to this program’s mission and staff, I was not only able to find my passion in research, but they funded me to do research. Similarly, with the experience I gained from the program, I had the privilege to become a Leadership Alliance Scholar and do research at Brown University for a whole summer. Together, these two programs prepared me to become a better candidate for graduate school. Now, I am so fortunate to start pursuing my PhD in Global Health at Arizona State University next fall.
Most importantly, at USD I found people who I admired, and I made friends with people who I hold dear to my heart. I also found the love of my life and I am happy to have married her at our very own Founders Chapel. This group of people motivated me to keep going when things got complicated, they advised me, mentored me, and entertained me once in a while. Without them and without the support of the university, I do not think I would be the individual I am today.
For those students looking into attending USD, I would like to say that you will find people who care for you every step of the way. Yeah, the transition to the college might be frightening, but you are not alone. Get exposed to the many opportunities this university has to offer. You will find your passion just like I did; it does not matter if you find it right away or halfway through college. What matters is that you are here.
– Jose B. Rosales Chavez