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The Campaign for UC Davis

Stories of inspired gifts … stories that inspire giving

Office of University Development

UC Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616-5270

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Portrait of Psychology

Rosalva Ponce’s career goal is “just to make people happy.”

Ponce was volunteering at UC Davis Medical Center during her junior year of high school when she found her life’s calling.

One night while she was on duty, a man entered the hospital emergency room that appeared to be very sad and alone. Ponce volunteered to sit with him while he was admitted to the medical center and the two engaged in a conversation that deeply affected Ponce.

“When people ask me why I want to be a psychologist I think of him,” said Ponce, a first-generation college student. “I want to be there for people who don’t have anyone. I want to be there to listen when a person needs someone to talk to.”

Ponce earned admission to UC Davis with her 3.7 grade point average and very active volunteer record, but it was going to be very difficult for her family to financially support her dream of attending college. 

Fortunately, in addition to grant aid, Ponce was awarded several scholarships to help her pay for college, including a Dell Scholars Program award from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and the merit-based UC Davis Chancellor’s Achievement Award, which is supported by gifts to the UC Davis Annual Fund.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given because a lot of people aren’t given this chance and I want to take advantage of it,” said Ponce, who is interested in being a social worker or counselor. “It’s nice to know that there are people out there who want to help — that’s another motivation for me to do well. I take their support very seriously and always try to do my best.”