Hi everyone :)! 

Welcome back to my life as a Stan State student! I am excited for this school year and I am taking it one semester at a time (because who knows where we’ll be these next few months). There is quite a lot going on and I feel blessed to have Stan State as my anchor through it all. 

While summer 2020 was eventful, Stan State’s presence in my life and in the Central Valley helped bring a refreshing sense of stability and safety. This summer it felt like everything around me was constantly changing. I tried my best to keep up with all the events that transpired this summer. I was left speechless numerous times as I read about everything as it became available, such as the elections, protests, wildfires, ongoing pandemic, and school closures. Needless to say, but my summer plans completely fell through and I didn’t do a lot of what I expected to. I didn’t expect to experience one of the biggest civil rights demonstrations ever this summer and I also wasn’t anticipating California declaring additional states of emergency. These are very intense times, but as I stated earlier, Stan State has been able to ground me through it all. I regularly looked for University emails and updates on all the latest events. This helped filter through a lot of the misleading media as Stan State was providing us with factual information and resources. This really made me rethink the role of universities in state and local communities; but that is a whole other conversation. 

My only expectations for fall 2020 are to stay on top of all my commitments (which I will be sharing soon) and academics. So far school has been going well, and once I make more sense of online/distance learning, I will elaborate :)! At this point though, it is going well and my professors are very supportive and eager to help us all and this has made me pretty optimistic.

Thank you all for checking in and joining me on this interesting ride we are calling Fall 2020!

What Comes Next

Hi everyone,

To simply state it, summer is here and I will be logging off until August and until the next semester comes back around. It seems so long from now, but I’m sure in time this will seem like “just yesterday” in three months and as exciting as that is, it’s also kind of nerve wrecking.

I have so many plans for this summer!! A lot of them will include simply making contact with a lot of professors from PhD programs of interest to me. This isn’t a requirement for all PhD programs, but many do encourage PhD applicants to reach out to professors from that program and find a research commonality. I have my heart set on one program in particular (****) but I am going to give myself the option to explore so many other programs. I don’t want to let my own feelings cloud my prospects. I would let the bear out of the bag but once process gets nearer :)! I also don’t know if my goal is to start a PhD program in fall 2021 either. I have so much figuring out to do, but I think I will be applying nonetheless. I also am going to be looking into fellowship/internships/volunteerships. I want to put my education to work but not necessarily by joining the 9-5 life just yet! I want to travel, learn, give back, and if there are any opportunities out there, please do not hesitate to let me know :)!

That said, this summer is also going to be a summer of SELF-CARE. I am going to make it my mission to change so many things about me. From my diet to my social media habits, things are going to change for the better. I want to dedicate x amount of time doing things (consistently) that will help me in the future. This not only includes physical activities, but also mental ones such as practicing or reciting a new word in German or French or Portuguese. With all the time spent at home, I want to pick up a new skill and why not try to learn a new language while getting back to running a few miles a week? I also want to better my Spanish so I will be taking advantage of Amazon Prime and setting up a Kindle account AND the online data base CSU Stan offers students to read articles, journals, book chapters, and whatever else I can access! I am going to focus so much time reading and I am so excited!! I feel that through reading for leisure, my writing will improve and that is another objective of mine for this summer. This is also something I want to improve in general and in particular for PhD applications! I want to learn how to write about myself in a way that tells a story, not in a way that is so academic and so “stiff”.

There are so many things I want to do summer 2020 I don’t even know where to begin. I am definitely eager for this summer, though, because unless I start a PhD program fall 2021, this will be my last official summer as a student for a while and I’m scared!! Every summer, the months of May-August represent time to rejuvenate my spirits and mind. I am not reading for my summer to be just another few months in the year… that is something I’m looking forward to just yet.

Well, thank you all for joining me this semester!! I can’t wait to be back and give everyone updates on things I’ve worked on :)!!

To the Class of 2020

To the Class of 2020:

Congratulations!! You all MADE IT :)!


Even if we are in the middle of a pandemic, you should still be proud of yourself and take some time to celebrate your accomplishments! If you are in high school and will soon be matriculating to CSU Stan, a city college student who just completed their Associates, or a college senior who just completed all requirements for their major, this is your moment and no pandemic can dull your success!

This, in so many ways, is just the beginning of a new and exciting chapter that awaits you all! I know when I graduated high school, I thought things would just continue as normal. When I graduated from undergrad, same thing. Each time, I was proven wrong. Nothing continued as normal. My life had taken on a whole new course of its own. I saw this in a change of daily routine, a complete change in friends, and goals no longer being so hypothetical and out of reach. With each accomplishment, everything made much more sense and my objectives much more tangible. I am confident that pandemic or not, you are much closer to reaching your goals than you were months ago. So hello!! Let’s celebrate that!

I hope these next few weeks are time of reflection and acceptance of having succeeded! Every finish line we cross is never too small to be proud of. You did it and I’m proud of you :)! I can’t wait to see future Warriors at CSU Stan! 🙂

A Note to Incoming First-Gen, CSU Stan Students

As I sit here today, now having finished my first year of grad school, I am look back at the years and months leading up to my freshman year of college, and I find that I cannot be more proud of myself for this huge accomplishment in my life.

Growing up as a first-generation (everything), I was exposed to so many struggles, including school deficiencies. As I reflect, I accept that I thought I’d never enroll in college, and while I want to be upset at myself for those thoughts, a much more youthful, less aware, and lost me refused to give in and pushed through. Therefore, I cannot be upset, as the tenacity within me jumped out and prevailed.

For those of you who are still working towards your degree, or are in high-school and dreaming about achieving a higher education, don’t relinquish that. It all starts with an idea or a dream. Education is a door, kick it open. The struggles, the one too many school deficiencies, and many other aspects of my upbringing are all experiences that should make us eager and ambitious to pursue a higher education.

All I’ve endured has taught me about resilience, humility, dedication, and discipline. This pandemic has only pronounced that. I thought there was no way I would be able to commit to my education any longer now that everything is online, but I refuse to give up. I still have the privilege to pursue my masters, and I am not going to allow that opportunity go in vain. I am going to take it and run with it.

To all the incoming CSU Stan students, welcome to a new beginning and era in your life. What you’ll find at Stan State is that unlike many other schools where your time as a student can easily be buried in silence, is a university built with the student experience anchored in every possible way. At Stan, your voice will be elevated, your needs will be met, and your goals will be accomplished. To all the incoming CSU Stan students, especially those who’ve been faced with one too many obstacles leading up to where you are now, the student experience is yours and mold it the way you see fit! These next few years will be all yours. You got this!

The Last Stretch

Hi everyone,

With only one class left to Zoom through, I am on hours away from completing my first year of graduate school!

I’m honestly kind of at lost of words. I did not think it would end like this (at all) but I’m still very excited to almost be done with the semester. It has been long, demanding, and I wouldn’t change it for anything else. While there were definitely times I did not think I would get assignments done or turned in on time, I somehow managed to pull through and submit things on a timely manner. I am grateful for this school year, honestly. It has taught me about my ability to hang in there during a global pandemic! I genuinely thought I would have succumbed to the pressures of online learning, but I preserved and thrived. I never believed I could do that. I am definitely someone who needs the physical space and environment of a university setting to keep up with deadlines and assignments. I also am someone who is able to leave the personal behind when I am in class on my university’s campus. It’s almost like I become a whole other person once I’m at school. With this shelter in place order, I had to reconfigure that ability. I had to somehow be a student at home and that was at times much more difficult than I expected it to. However tedious it was though, I did it!  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a student at Stan State, I don’t know if I would have managed so well elsewhere.

I can’t believe I am already celebrating ~almost~ being done with my first year of undergrad!! I can still remember celebrating the “last stretch” during my first year of undergrad. In the moment, that final stretch was intimidating, but today I can’t help but miss all the moments that made up that one larger moment. As a first generation student, the entire college experience has been new to me each and every term. Incoming students are always told about how good it is to go to college, but no one really tells you about the excitement of almost being DONE with your first year, arguably one of the most difficult ones too due to everything being so new to you. There I was, 19 years old, and ready to take my last final in one of the larger classrooms. I still remember the feeling of everyone walking towards class, a room that sat over 100 students. Although we did not stop to speak to one another, I felt like we were all in that together. It was a beautiful moment!

Today I am celebrating the last stretch and even though it’s a whole different setting, it is still just as meaningful. Every small win is part of the larger victory, and I am ready.

Instagram Takeover!

Hi everyone,

I’m pretty excited to share that I will be participating in an Instagram takeover for the first time this Friday! Anyone interested in checking it out and joining me should head over and follow @StanAdmissions on Instagram 😀

Some things I expected to talk about include the graduate student life, campus layout, things to do in Turlock, and maybe a few tips on how to be successful at Stan State. I’m super honored and excited to partake in this because I feel I will be providing a graduate narrative that is focused not only on highlighting the grad experience, but also the undergrad resources and spaces that exist at Stan State that did not exist at my undergrad institution.

I’m also excited to do this because on Friday because it’ll be May 1st, which is the last day to SIR if you’re an incoming first-year! I hope my words resonate with potential students who weigh their options. I still remember when I SIRd in high school. It was such a stressful moment. I was really torn between going to the university I wanted to attend and attending the one others wanted me to. I did not only SIR once after high school, I also had to SIR when I transferred from one 4 year institution to another 4 year institution. Both in high school and as a college student, the SIR deadline was something I knew would be a very definitive moment in my life.

If anyone has suggestions, please feel free to send them my way! I want to touch on a variety of topics and hope I am able to deliver quality content. My peers have been doing such a great job honestly. I’m so excited! 🙂

A Note for Current Me About Past Me

Hi Manny,

Quarantine has been in effect for over a month now and as you look forward, you can’t help but also look at your past and question yourself. Don’t worry, you and so many other first generation college students, especially students of color, will probably experience this form of questioning as you navigate unfamiliar situations and environments.

Throughout undergrad, you did everything you could with what you had at the time. As you begin long process of starting applications for future programs and fellowships you’re interested in, remember to breathe. Plus, let’s face it: you did well in undergrad. As a first generation student, and the first in your family on the road to a university degree, you accomplished so much. From Dean’s List, 4.0s (from time to time), a myriad of scholarships, the opportunity to study abroad, endless friends, and so on, you truly DID THAT!

I know this quarantine has been difficult. It would be wild if it wasn’t, right? Celebrate where you are now: in the graduate program you wanted to be in for years at the specific university too!

If you could go back in time and re-do anything, what would you actually do differently? I don’t want to be the one to burst the bubble but I have to: you most likely wouldn’t approach much differently. Ok, sure, you probably would have taken an umbrella with you that one day you didn’t think it was actually going to rain, and then it did; but other than that, throughout undergrad, you did the absolute best with what you had! Don’t forget that and don’t let the intimidation stemming from fellowship questionnaires, current PhD students’ profiles, and scholarship requirements you interested in worry you NOW. They can try to blur your perception, but you will overcome it all and with clarity.

You, Manny, the first in your family to enroll in university, and at a large institution (and your goal school), strived and thrived when you were pressed with setbacks. Not once or twice, but many times!

Shift the narrative and let this quarantine be a time to accept your outcomes, not challenge them.

First generation students will always ask themselves if they’re “enough” or “worthy,” and we (you) need to full heartedly embrace that you are.


Why I Chose Stan State

Everyone’s undergrad experience is different. Sometimes the most difficult thing to discover is your major, interests, and ambitions. For many first-gen students, not giving in to imposter syndrome is not just an on-going matter, it can be a routine hindrance. It can tedious enough to find out what we (actually) find interests in and committing to it. On top of that, undergrad can go by so quickly and deciding where to go and what to do can be extremely cloudy and stressful. The hardest thing for me to answer throughout my undergrad career has been the big question: “Once you graduate, what’s next?”

It is now April 2020. In two months it’ll be my full-year college graduation anniversary! I am so excited to celebrate turning one. Somehow through all the essays, projects, homework assignments, and endless sea of classes and major requirements, I managed to answer that once daunting question and am now a full-time student in the social work masters program at Stan State! *pats myself on the back** 

Getting here was not easy, though. I had so much to decide on. I was torn between accepting my offer of admission into some very big and extremely known schools or accepting my offer from a school that’s a part of the largest four-year public university system in the United States. After weighing all the pros and cons, I knew I had to choose the school that fit my interests best. I was looking at things like:

· Class sizes

· Graduation and retention rates

· Financial aid offers

· Professors backgrounds

· Student Demographics

· City and University Culture 

In the end, I chose the MSW program that offered the small class sizes, high graduation rates, supportive financial aid offer, made up of diverse professors, a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), and located in a city I can easily navigate. Surprisingly, I also chose a school that has shifted my entire professional and academic objectives.

Prior to enrolling in the MSW program, I was determined on completing the masters and taking a very large break (time-wise) from the academic setting. I told myself I would only ever re-enter the university for another master or to polish up on field practice and theory. I never, not once, thought I would enter this MSW program and consider pursuing a Ph.D. 

Throughout undergrad, at a very large research institution, I never cared for research. Who knows how, but very, very quickly Stan State instilled within me the excitement to pursue research as not only a career but also as an interest. 

While I say I chose Stan State, I also like to think that Stan State chose me. Had I gone elsewhere, I don’t know if I would contemplate pursuing a Ph.D. so soon. I am grateful this university has already helped me determine the next chapters of my life even while I work to experience fully this current one. 

Update on Online Classes

Hello all,

Today I visited campus to pick up a device the university is lending students and I managed to captured the image below.








I was surprised to find a campus with some activity to it. There were people exercising, construction going on, and a few vehicles in the student parking lots. However, it was extremely empty in comparison to normal days where life is going on all around the university. All in all, it was nice to be back on campus. I forgot how beautiful campus can be. Spring is definitely in the air and campus is looking greener. Campus felt so rejuvenating. Simply walking around campus for a second made me forget that this pandemic is going on.

Online classes are going (okay). Professors seem to be working with caution and doing all they can to ensure that we’re not feeling too pressured. I am grateful for that. I cannot imagine continuing completely like normal because this is not normal. I’ve realized that online classes have given me a greater interest in researching our class topics in ways that extend beyond the mandatory readings. During the normal school term, it can be difficult to do the assigned reading let alone anything extra. Now that I have more time on my hands, I am doing just that. I am not only reading my assigned texts but also googling dates, figures, and events in order to give myself more context. I wish I was doing this before! It would definitely have given me a firmer grasp on class topics.


I do miss in-person instruction but this is fine. I miss being a student inside a classroom, with a professor, but this is necessary right now so it’s fine. I hope everyone else is doing okay! This is our new normal and it’ll take some time to fully adjust to but with everything going “smoothly” so far academically, I have no room to complain.

I just know that in some time, this will seem like such a long time ago and it’ll make me appreciate the beauty that is Stan State in more profound ways.

Happy Birthday to Me :)

Hello friends,


Today is my birthday :)! I am so grateful to be celebrating another full year around the sun. I am thankful the universe has granted me health, community, and what seems like endless prospects. I am extremely privileged to be where I am in life. I know this moment–being a grad student at Stan State–will, in no time, seem like such a long time ago. That is nerve wrecking, and another reason I take in everything around me with nothing but optimism and appreciation.

I’ve never been big on birthdays, at least not my own. I’m sure many of us can attest to feeling guilty for putting ourselves in even the slightest of spotlights and instead choose to make space for others instead of taking any up for ourselves. While it is great to be humble, I am recognizing there is difference between being humble and being self-less. It’s 2020 and with everything happening around the state and country, we should be celebrating ourselves more than ever!

This birthday, I am celebrating embracing my capabilities and interests in entering academia. As a first generation student, I am one of the “lucky ones” and feel it is my duty to enter academic spaces with nothing but confidence in order to help others do the same later. Besides, it would be very un-Aries of me to do otherwise! As an Aries, I am ruled by Mars, whose astrological symbolism represents competitive, warrior-like energy.

Only a few months ago I visited my friends at my undergrad institution (who are still undergrads) and was told I am one of the ones who’s “made it,” which was something I had yet to be told so bluntly. Since then, I refuse to deny it. I am making it through a system that can be difficult to navigate when you’re the first in your immediate and extended family to enter. I am making it through a system that doesn’t always offer a short-cut but instead what seems like numerous obstacles. I am making it through a system that truly tests me and my ability to deal with bureaucratic guidelines. Amidst all of these barriers and limitations, am making it, and for all these reasons and more, I celebrate myself and any/all first generation students navigating the education pipeline.

This year I am celebrating myself during a time of immense political and economic uncertainty. These are difficult times for us all but I know that a year from now I will be be celebrating having made it through them in every way possible. I will be celebrating my growth then. I will also be celebrating my growth to come, as I am doing now.

Happy birthday to me! I may still not be permitted to rent a car without extra fees, but I am still celebrating myself and all the other Aries of the globe. Us fire signs may not be having the BEST fire season this year, but we’re still the fun sign (if I do say so myself).