I first began my foray into higher education in 2011. However, I was forced to discontinue when my father decided to leave our household, and I lost my job. At the time, I was only able to acquire a position working long days and nights at a warehouse, which discouraged me from returning to school the following semester. Additionally, when my father left, he left me with the responsibilities that he used to bear within our household, which consisted of my two older siblings and myself. Unfortunately, my brothers spent much of their time in jail and did not contribute to our living arrangements. Thus, at 19 years old, I oversaw the living expenses for my household. These overbearing responsibilities led me to make some unwholesome decisions that affected my well-being. In particular, I received my first DUI at that time, and I had developed a substance abuse disorder. Finally, I grew tired of my living situation and asked my sister if I could move into her living room. I explained to her that I planned to quit my job and return to school so that I can better myself. One week later, I did just that and discontinued the lease on the apartment. Within a month, I had found a better job and had begun the process of enrolling into Orange Coast Community College. Currently, I have a strained relationship with both of my brothers because of the decision that I made. However, the opportunity that I have in front of me is much more important, as I will be the first to graduate with anything higher than a high school diploma.
“Currently, I have a strained relationship with both of my brothers because of the decision that I made. However, the opportunity that I have in front of me is much more important, as I will be the first to graduate with anything higher than a high school diploma.”
– Jesus Adan
The transition has not been an easy one, however. As I awaited my decision from UCI’s admissions office in 2018, I received my second DUI and was jailed multiple times for fighting, public intoxication, and disturbing the peace. As a result, I began part of my first quarter at UCI on house arrest and spent some nights in jail. This made me feel as though I did not belong on campus. Fortunately, I met Hector from the Underground Scholars Initiative (USI) in the first weeks of the 2018 fall quarter before I began my house arrest, and he made me understand that the struggles that I had overcame up to that point made be deserving of the opportunity to study at UCI, for I had prevailed over barriers that other students would have faltered over. His sentiments struck me, and I gained comfort in knowing that there were people with a similar background on campus—I was not alone. More importantly, after completing my house arrest, I began to attend USI meetings regularly, and it has changed my trajectory in a positive manner. Prior to making contact with the student-led organization, I did not ponder about graduate school, but now I plan to apply to graduate programs and continue my pursuit of knowledge. USI has facilitated my growth at UCI and motivated me to fulfill my true potential. In the summer of 2018, I was scared of the prospect of failing at UCI and succumbing to the negative perceptions that others had of my being; contrastingly, I am now going into the summer of 2020, and I am excited of the prospect of attending graduate school and confirming the perception of myself that the USI members have instilled in me—one of perseverance, success, strength, and triumph.