Students in Job Shadow Program Share Their Stories

Two people sit at an office table
Student Hansinee Mayani sits in a meeting with Chancellor Gary May. (Courtesy photo)

Students in Job Shadow Program Share Their Stories

Fall Quarter 2021 experiences, in their own words

Chancellor May's Leadership Job Shadow Program had a successful fall quarter with 30 students participating. Here are some of their stories in their own words.

Two people stand in front of a sign that says UC Davis Office of Research
Ellaine Arroyo and Vice Chancellor for Research Prasant Mohapatra pose at his office. (Courtesy photo)

Ellaine Arroyo

Undergraduate, biological sciences major

"I am grateful to have shadowed Vice Chancellor for Research Prasant Mohapatra as part of the UC Davis Leadership Job Shadow Program this quarter! I gained a lot of insight about VC Mohapatra’s career path, the impact research provides in campus leadership, and what is done to shape our community everyday. I also had the great opportunity to learn about VC Mohapatra’s typical work day and shadow in a work group meeting.

"If you or anyone you know want to spend a day with a campus executive in this amazing program, feel free to reach out and I will do my best to help you out from there!"

Tyler Fleming

Undergrad, communications major

"During this fall quarter I had the incredible opportunity of shadowing the Dean of the Graduate School of Management of the University of California, Davis. I was honored to have gotten the chance to shadow Dean Unnava as part of the Leadership Job Shadow program at my university, UC Davis.

"The life lessons and advice I received from him are ones that I will take with me forever. I learned specifically, that no matter how big your role, collaboration is a key part of an individual’s success, especially at an institution like UC Davis. Even a top role of a dean collaborates with many individuals in order to perform the work they do and make their agendas and hopes for the future advancement of the university a reality.

I learned that no matter how big your role, collaboration is a key part of an individual's success.

I hope to take this advice and experience and apply it to my everyday life and continue to gather feedback inspiration, and everyday information as part of my overarching journey as a student and working individual in pursuit of my college degree.

"Thank you again to Dean Rao Unnava and his Chief of Staff Stephanie Young-Birkle for none of this would have been possible without her coordination of a wonderful schedule and experience I will take with me for quite some time to come."

Jason Kwan

Undergraduate, psychology and pharmaceutical chemistry major

A screen shot of a Discord post
Jason Kwan shared his Job Shadow experience — he shadowed Vice Chancellor Pablo Reguerin — to ASUCD Pantry staff and volunteers via Discord.

Two people sit at a table with lunch food in front of them
Student Stephanie Wan and Cory Vu, associate vice chancellor for health, wellness, and divisional resources, took a break from meetings to have lunch together. (Courtesy photo)

Stephanie Wan

Undergraduate, cognitive science and psychology major

"Recently, I had the privilege to shadow Cory Vu, Associate Vice Chancellor for Health, Wellness, and Divisional Resources at UC Davis.

"Going into the Vice Chancellor’s Council (VCC) meeting, we started off the conversation by playing a card game which sparked lighthearted and interesting discussions with the other Vice Chancellors; this was something I did not expect at all. Cory is also spearheading a mental health peer program on campus, where I got to pitch in during the meeting from a student’s perspective. During various meetings, I realized the intricate considerations that goes into making important decisions such as COVID policies, lean processing a system, and hiring new campus leadership.

"Throughout the day, I have grown to be appreciative of Cory’s approach to work. From taking on an optometry project to ensure quality optometry services on campus, to introducing me to Dr. Paul Kim, Director of Counseling Services, Cory emphasized the value of long-lasting relationships with those around you.

"Huge thank you to Cory and many others that I have had the chance to meet through Chancellor Gary May’s UC Davis Job Shadow program!"

Samantha Martin

Undergraduate, sustainable agriculture and food systems major
Two people pose and smile at camera

Melisa Gulseren

Undergraduate, electrical and computer engineering major
Two people with masks pose at an office table
Student Melisa Gulseren and Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Renetta Tull met in Tull's office during their busy day together. (Courtesy photo)

"Last week I had the exciting opportunity to shadow Vice Chancellor Dr. Renetta Garrison Tull as a part of the #UCDavisJobShadow program! During our day together, I attended various meetings such as a weekly update meeting on happenings on campus, the Chancellor’s Leadership Council with many other campus administrators, and a Diversity Leadership Council.

"I got to hear from VC Tull about how she keeps up with her busy schedule, stays organized with all the different meetings she attends, and creates a friendly and professional work environment. Throughout the day I had the chance to talk to VC Tull about her career journey from being a professor in electrical engineering to the Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, projects from the Office of DEI to look out for (make sure to check out the Campus Community Book Project if you have not already done so!), and ways to incorporate DEI values in my own career journey.

"It was very interesting and inspiring to see the behind the scenes of a leadership position and meet all the amazing people that make everything happen! Thank you, VC Tull, and everyone at the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the chance to see a day in your office in action!"

Elise Palombella 

Graduate student, chemistry
Screenshot thank you to VC Prasant Mohapatra
Graduate student Elise Palombella shot a short movie about her shadow experience — (Courtesy graphic)

Kathleen Harges

Undergraduate, communications major
A line drawing of Mrak Hall and a sign that says Strategic Communications
Kathleen Harges designed this graphic of Mrak Hall using Photoshop.

"Shadowing Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Dana Topousis, is an experience that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. As I sat beside her during an issues management meeting, their daily strategic communications check-in, and the long list of tasks she completes each day, I felt inspired.

"I was inspired by Ms. Topousis’ leadership and approach to her work. Furthermore, I loved being in the midst of a supportive work environment and seeing the palpable passion and creativity of everyone in the department. I hope to follow in Ms. Topousis’ steps one day. Though, those are big shoes to fill!

"I want to thank John Mounier, Tristan Perry, and Sallie Poggi for showing me their work in the strategic communications department with such detail and  kindness." 

Angelica Martin 

Medical student
A zoom split screen of two people in a meeting
UC Davis Medical Student Angelica Martin was doing her rounds in Los Angeles when she met with Chief Administrator of UC Davis Medical Center, Brad Simmons. (Courtesy graphic)

Joshua Hernandez

Undergraduate, managerial economics and computer science majors

"While I was training to become an Orientation Leader, Chancellor Gary May came and gave a speech to all of us - at the end, he implored us to apply to this “Job Shadow” thing. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but as I thought about this program over the next few days, I realized that it would be the perfect opportunity to answer some questions about business management, a career path I thought I wanted to pursue, and see if it was right for me. I am extremely grateful that I took my shot at applying to the Job Shadow Program, because getting to meet and shadow Vice Chancellor Kelly Ratliff for a day gave me crucial insights on a career in managing finance.

Two people stand in front of a sign in the Finance, Office and Administration office.
Student Joshua Hernandez stands with Vice Chancellor of Finance, Operations and Administration Kelly Ratliff. (Courtesy photo)

"As I walked into Mrak 376 and met Vice Chancellor Ratliff for the first time, she quickly made me feel at home. She briefed me on what we were going to do for our day, (Meetings, meetings, more meetings… and lunch!) and we quickly were whisked away into our first meeting. Seeing all of the other Chancellors there in one room and being the only student was incredibly nerve-wracking, but being in that room really showed me that our administrators are human and want to help and serve our community. I felt inspired, and wanted to be like them one day too.

"Our next meetings were just as amazing, as I got to see some of the planning behind the new UC Davis Aggie Square, learn about financing COVID safety precautions, and so much more about how UC Davis is run from a financial standpoint. I got to ask many questions about our meetings that we attended, and she was happy to answer all of them - she seemed just as interested in a day in my life as I was interested in hers! At the end of the day, I had learned everything I wanted to know about managing an institution, and gained advice and motivation that ultimately pushed me to apply for and get accepted into an internship.

"I could not have asked for my experience to go any better, and I encourage anyone who is reading this - if you have any doubts about applying, take the leap. I did, and this experience truly may have made a huge influence on my career path forever."

Serena Broome

Undergraduate, undeclared

"As the only freshman selected for the Leadership Job Shadow program, I was excited to meet my mentor, Dr. Joanna Regulska, who is the Vice Provost and Dean of Global Affairs and a Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at UC Davis.

"On the first day, I biked from my dorm to a building at the edge of campus, Mrak Hall - UC Davis’s main administration building. I had never been to this part of campus before. I was filled with trepidation as I walked through the concrete lane bowered with trees, approaching the picturesque, white building ahead. The egghead sculptures greeted my arrival with their exaggerated facial expressions. I entered the lobby, a couple minutes early, waiting to meet my mentor. 

"When Dr. Regulska appeared, my anxieties were instantly eased by her warmth and exuberance. We walked up the spiral staircase to a conference room discussing women’s issues in Afghanistan and Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"Dr. Regulska was about to begin a Zoom meeting on the Article 26 Backpack Initiative. The Initiative provides support to college students whose education has been disrupted by war, natural disasters, and other humanitarian crises. Refugees and other vulnerable students can use the service to securely store academic documents in a cloud-based ecosystem (“backpack”) which may otherwise be lost or destroyed in the midst of conflict.

Four people standing, looking at the camera, wearing COVID masks
Student Serena Broome attended a meeting with Chancellor Gary May, Professor Michael Lazzara of Global Affairs, and Joanna Regulska, vice provost and dean for Global Affairs. (Courtesy photo)

"Dr. Regulska asked Dr. Jolynn Shoemaker, Director of Global Engagements in the Global Affairs department, if I could participate because of my burgeoning interest in foreign affairs. She encouraged me to apply to their UN internship.

"Dr. Regulska discussed the logistics of placing visiting scholars from Afghanistan into different academic units at UC Davis with the Global Community Emergency Fund. I took notes diligently, feeling in awe that the stars aligned for me with this mentorship, because I had just written an article about Afghan women and access to education for the Davis Political Review. 

"I was then invited to attend a meeting about UC Davis’ Global Strategic Plan with the Provost’s Leadership Council at Mrak Hall, led by Dr. Mary Croughan, the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor extraordinaire. I realized that I was, to quote the musical Hamilton, “in the room where it happens”. It was a bit intimidating to be the only 18 year old sitting in this room brimming with distinguished faculty and senior administration officials. One by one, all of the faculty and administration at the round table began to introduce themselves. All of them had very long, formal titles. As I was nervously waiting for my turn, I chuckled how mine was just “Serena Broome, Freshman”, not feeling any sense of impostor syndrome at all. 

"During the meeting, I learned about UC Davis’ commitment to global engagement. UC Davis is one of the first universities in the world to publish the Voluntary University Review (VUR), which assesses the university’s impact on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In fact, UC Davis was the first UC school ever to launch a VUR, which was spearheaded by the UC Davis offices of Global Affairs, Sustainability, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

"In my second shadow experience, I biked in a similar fashion to Mrak Hall, however everything was shrouded by dense fog! Unable to see clearly, I accidentally biked past the building. Running past the See No Evil/Hear No Evil egghead sculptures in the back entrance of Mrak Hall, I fled up the stairs, nervous I would be late. Sweating, I ran into the lobby room, where I met my mentor, Dr. Regulska, and two men dressed in suits. I shook the hands of President Celso Moretti and Alexandre Varella, the US and Canada representative from Embrapa, a Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation which advises the Ministry of Agriculture in Brazil. I also had the privilege of meeting Dr. Michael Lazzara, Associate Vice Provost of Academic Programs in Global Affairs and Professor of Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies

"Together, we went upstairs to the Chancellor’s office. Dr. Regulska led me in with her hand on my shoulder, excitedly whispering “the Chancellor, the Chancellor!” I felt a flicker of excitement as I shook the hand of Chancellor Gary May. He was very charismatic and affable at the same time, dressed in a silver grey suit. 

"We sat in a circle (I was seated next to the Chancellor!). Dr. Regulska, Chancellor May, Dr. Lazzara, and the representatives from Embrapa discussed forming partnerships to promote agricultural innovation and sustainability. At the end of the meeting, we took a picture, which is shown here!

"I still remember how kind Dr. Regulska was to offer to drive me to the International Center for the next event, since the weather was very cold (unfortunately my bike would not fit in the trunk of her car). I biked to the International Center to attend a presentation about Embrapa’s efforts in transforming Brazilian agribusiness. At the conclusion of the event, I said goodbye to my wonderful mentor. 

"I’m grateful for this experience. It’s still not over because Dr. Regulska invited me to continue participating in the meetings and events!"

Rivka Keith

Undergraduate, psychology major
Two people smile at the camera
Student Rivka Keith shadowed Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. (Courtesy graphic)

Natalia Peña
Undergraduate, philosophy major

two people stand in front of UC Davis School of Law sign
Student Natalia Peña poses with Dean Kevin Johnson at the UC Davis School of Law. (Courtesy photo)

"Last week I was given the opportunity to participate in the UC Davis Leadership Job Shadow Program where students are selected to shadow a campus executive for a day and learn about the behind the scenes of UC Davis. I was assigned to shadow UC Davis School of Law, Dean Kevin R Johnson.

"During my time shadowing I engaged in a meaningful conversation with Dean Johnson about the struggles and successes of immigration law, which is something I'm currently interested in pursuing. He explained to me aspects of what it takes to be in the field and how it is so rewarding to be able to help people, but also very important to maintain strong mental health so that people seeking help are advocated for as best as possible.

"I was then given a tour of King Hall and was able to see the beautiful institution that houses the education of students who are pursuing law degrees in various areas of focus. Then Dean Johnson had a couple meetings that I was able to sit in for where I was able to listen to different areas of business and decisions that are made to ensure that students attend a school that is inclusive to all.

"Overall, I was able to learn a lot in the couple hours that I shadowed Dean Johnson and I am grateful to have spent time with someone as prestigious as the dean. I am even more ambitious to apply and attend law school one day, and I will carry the advice Dean Johnson gave me as I continue my educational career."

Michelle Lester

Undergraduate, communications major
Screenshot of New Leaf newsletter header with two photos of Michelle Lester, one with Dana Topousis, one with Gary May
Student Michelle Lester shadowed Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Dana Topousis and also met Chancellor Gary May. She shared her story in "A New Leaf," the Arboretum's Learning by Leading student newsletter. (Courtesy graphic)

"Check out this amazing opportunity to shadow leadership staff at UC Davis! Michelle was able to participate in this a few weeks ago, and shadowed Dana Topousis, UC Davis's chief marketing and communications officer. This is a great learning experience to see what goes on day-to-day in a professional career you may be interested in. If you have any questions about the experience, you can Slack or email me!

"To apply for the job shadow program, go to the UC Davis Leadership website's Job Shadow application page the first week of winter quarter and fill out the application. Or if you'd rather apply in spring, check the site the first week of spring quarter."

Harjeet Mann

Undergraduate, biological sciences major

"I had the privilege of shadowing Mr. Bradley Simmons, Chief Administrator of the UC Davis Medical Center. In our conversation, I learned about the great amount of effort and involvement our medical center staff has to provide the top medical care to patients.

"As he described it, the hospital is like a mini city of its own where we have administration, doctors, public health officials, finance officers, and so many more individuals working together.

"On my visit to his office, I truly felt like I was amidst dozens of folks from different professions all on their way to contribute to a greater cause of providing care. I am impressed to hear about his dedication and devotion to ensure that the medical center is providing care to every patient in need. Learning about his story and his current career inspires me that there are so many ways for us to positively impact our communities."


Grace Tueros
Undergraduate, psychology major

Student Grace Tueros shares her experience shadowing University Librarian and Vice Provost of Digital Scholarship MacKenzie Smith in a short video.

Héctor Sánchez Castañeda

Law student

"I recently had a behind-the-scenes peek at how higher-education leaders work to help students succeed. I shadowed UC Davis Dean and Vice Provost of Graduate Studies Jean-Pierre Delplanque for an entire day, zooming (physically, not virtually) from meeting to meeting that included student leaders, faculty, and UCD Chancellor Gary May. 

Two people walk through a study area
Law student Héctor Sánchez Castañeda walks through a study area with Dean Jean-Pierre Delplanque. (Courtesy of UC Davis Graduate Studies)

"It's easy to lose the big picture and live inside your own bubble when you’re focused on your academics—your world might feel closed off and only include professors and other students. But there might be someone managing community outreach in your department. Or another person working to make commencement as memorable as can be. There’s probably someone securing the funds for your financial aid next. It’s no surprise why universities are usually the largest employer of its city.

"Many of the conversations I accompanied Dean Delplanque on revolved around graduate student well-being and success—a new graduate center dedicated to providing a space unique for graduate students opened this year.
"Probably the most fascinating meeting I attended was between the university’s different school deans. It was a diverse room, with voices and perspectives from around the world. And the topic was on how to export UC Davis’s research to the rest of the world while also fulfilling its local mission to enliven Northern California. The talk ranged from a discussion on how to welcome more international scholars to discussions on how to combat behaviors of colonization within this institution.
"All this in one day. I’m grateful for the opportunity to shadow Dean Delplanque, and I hope to use this perspective of collaboration to benefit my future workplaces." 

Leanny Munoz

Musicology, Ph.D student

"I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to best lay the right path for my future. I try to take every opportunity presented to me, and this quarter I am happy to have been a part of the UC Davis Leadership Job Shadow program. Those who know me well will not be surprised to learn that I excitedly and hurriedly applied to the program on a ten minute bus ride home. Not too long after, I was accepted and then matched with Dr. Don Roth, executive director of the Mondavi Center.

Two people stand against a Mondavi Center blue background
Graduate student Leanny Munoz poses with Mondavi Executive Director Don Roth. (Courtesy photo)

"My pairing could not have been more appropriate! My career goal is to work in arts administration and eventually gain the experience necessary to become a director of an arts organization. I've had the opportunity to intern with the Washington Performing Arts and the American Musicological Society, as well being active in leading and collaborating with my peers within the music department, but I had not had the time to sit down and speak to a working professional. In our one-on-one conversations, Dr. Roth had excellent advice for my professional trajectory and individualized feedback to offer me.

In the first portion of my job shadow experience, I was able to meet many of the staff members who were all very knowledgeable and passionate about their work at the Mondavi Center. In fact, I was impressed by the forward thinking and progressive mindset of all the staff members who had their patrons' best interest at the heart of all their professional decisions. In the second portion of my job shadow experience, I joined Dr. Roth at the Mondavi Center during a Sunday afternoon performance where I was able to meet members of Pamyua and members of UC Davis’ Vice Chancellor's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. While observing Dr. Roth’s interactions with patrons, I was moved by the tangible impact the Mondavi Center has on the happiness of its patrons. During Pamyua’s performance, I felt the joy of watching live music myself.

A group of people with COVID masks sit at a meeting table together
Graduate student Leanny Munoz met with many members of the Mondavi Center team. (Courtesy photo)
A group of people on a darkened stage at the Mondavi Center
Munoz also attended a Mondavi Center event as part of her shadow experience with Roth. (Courtesy photo)

My time with Dr. Don Roth was short, but I believe it has reaffirmed my passion for art administration. At the finale of Pamyua’s performance they invited UC Davis students who they had worked with previously onto the stage to perform a song and dance, and it is moments like the one occurring on the Mondavi Center stage that Sunday afternoon that motivate me to continue on my path no matter how much time it may take. I am thankful for all the kindness offered to me by Don Roth, including his generous offer to continue offering me guidance, and all the staff at the Mondavi Center. In retrospect, applying to the UC Davis Leadership Job Shadow program was ten minutes well spent.


Tri Dev Archaya 

Post doc, civil engineering
A screenshot of three people in a Zoom meeting
Post doctoral fellow Tri Dev Archaya shadowed vice provost and dean of Global Affairs Joanna Regulska. Among other meetings, the two met with Keisha Liggett-Nichols, assistant vice provost of Global Affairs. (Courtesy graphic)

Hansinee Mayani 

Undergraduate, communications major
An instagram post with Chancellor Gary May and student Hansinee Mayani
Student Hansinee Mayani shared her day with Chancellor May. (Courtesy graphic)
Two people sit at an office table
Student Hansinee Mayani sits in a meeting with Chancellor Gary May. (Courtesy photo)


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