By Laura Pizzo
hen students, faculty, alumni and friends speak about what they love about UC Davis, the first quality they often cite is “the community.” By this, they may mean the university’s well-known collaborative spirit, laid-back atmosphere, rigorous yet uplifting academics and empowering diversity. And while this community developed naturally at UC Davis, it is still something that Aggies—together—continue to actively build upon and refine. In 2014, UC Davis launched the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, making concentrated efforts to launch more programs to help provide additional support to Aggie students, including the Cross Cultural Center, the Center for African Diaspora Student Success, LGBTQIA Resource Center, FirstYear Aggie Connections and many more. One program that has been leading the way for the past four decades is STEP, or the Special Transitional Enrichment Program. Founded under Affirmative Action, the STEP program begins with a three-week summer residential program and continues for students’ first two years at UC Davis. “STEP most often serves first-generation and low-income students who may not have a sense of community when they first step onto campus,” said Donelle Davis, assistant director of advising and retention services and lead for STEP. “So STEP is incredibly influential, helping our students become more successful in college by introducing them to a community that will support them on their educational journey, instilling confidence and teaching them to use their strengths to pursue academic success.” STEP provides transitional classes and skills development activities, along with intensive counseling and academic advising. Its students not only do well in class and make lifelong friends, they also go on to be successful alumni. In honor of STEP’s 40th anniversary, here are stories from some prominent STEP Aggie alumni.
Transfer STEP The Koret Foundation recently granted $1 million to create Transfer STEP, a new program designed to facilitate community college students’ transition to UC Davis and other UC campuses. The program will provide critical academic support to the students, which will increase their likelihood of completing an engineering degree in a timely manner. This program, which is part of a larger university initiative to increase student diversity in engineering, is a collaborative effort by the Office of Student Affairs, the College of Engineering and the Provost’s Office.