Meet the Ambassadors of Letters and Science (ALAS)

The members of the Ambassadors of Letters and Science (ALAS) are exceptional students who represent the UC Davis College of Letters and Science to prospective students and families, peers, and the campus and community at large. Meet our Ambassadors for 2018-19:  

Ellen_Chu_Letters and Science AmbassadorEllen Chu

Pharmaceutical Chemistry
San Francisco

Ellen chose to attend UC Davis because of its welcoming community and great reputation. It is also close to her hometown, another factor in her choice; but she has found Davis to be a welcome respite from the busy and noisy streets of her native San Francisco. Once here, Ellen has been rewarded with several opportunities to get involved on campus, especially through the Ambassador program. 

Her advice to entering students is to treat the experience as a new beginning and to challenge oneself. Make the most out of it. Make new friends. Make a difference.

Ellen is a member of a fraternity on campus, and also conducts research. When she’s not in class, studying, or participating in the variety of extracurricular activities that keep her busy, she enjoys working out, hiking, and running, especially during the winter months.

Philip Esguerra Letters and Science AmbassadorPhilip Esguerra

Daly City, CA

Philip is a Bay Area native and chose to attend UC Davis because of its proximity to home, but also because the culture of the campus was one in which students could thrive and challenge themselves, even push themselves to their own limits without unnecessary competitiveness. He found the campus to be smaller geographically and socially than expected, in that meeting people and learning their unique stories was easy—especially through his participation in clubs, organizations like Ambassadors, and volunteering at different campus events. 

Philip’s advice for entering students is two-fold: Attend office hours as much as possible and don’t skip lectures. He also encourages students to be present. “Take time each day to relax, talk with a friend, do something you enjoy,” he adds. 

When Philip isn’t pursuing his academic endeavors, he likes to play and listen to music, read, play board and video games, and engage in his faith community at Davis Newman Catholic Center. 

Zaprin Ignatiev Letters and Science AmbassadorZaprin Ignatiev

Computer Science
Rohnert Park, CA

Zaprin, a transfer student to UC Davis, chose this campus for its strong reputation, but even more so for its abundance of support and opportunities for students. Even so, the number of activities and clubs in which students can participate was still a surprise to him upon his arrival. What wasn’t a surprise was the rigor of the coursework Zaprin faced as a computer science student. In fact, completing the Data Structures and Programming course was one of his biggest challenges, but also one of the most rewarding. 

Drawing from his own experience, he encourages entering students (and all students, really) to not let themselves fall behind. The support and resources are there, you just need to make use of them.

When he’s not working on a problem set or writing code—or preparing himself for these activities—he is likely to be found working out at the ARC (Activities and Recreation Center) or snowboarding in the Sierras. 

Ginny Johnson Letters and Science AmbassadorVirginia L. Johnson

Chemistry (ACS focus)
Truckee, CA

Virginia, or Ginny as she’s more widely known, is a transfer student from the mountain town of Truckee, CA. What set UC Davis apart from the other schools she was considering was the abundance of undergraduate research opportunities, as well as the abundance of trees. And though the population of the campus is larger than that of her hometown—which was somewhat surprising to her—the trees and overall culture of the campus were welcoming. In her short time at UC Davis, she’s found her niche by performing her own undergraduate research, serving as an Ambassador, and participating in the wildly popular chemistry activities at Picnic Day.  

Ginny’s advice for new students would be to follow their own path. “Listen to those that came before you, but their definition of success may not be yours,” she adds. Finding your way can be overwhelming and stressful, but there are many roads to success at UC Davis.

When Ginny isn’t studying or working on one of her research projects, she enjoys crafting, talking with friends, mountain unicycling, and spending time with her Great Dane, Grimm.

Allyson Ling Letters and Science AmbassadorAllyson Ling

Markham, Ontario 

Allyson, originally from Canada, grew up in Rhode Island before moving to California in high school. Although she wanted to move back to the east coast for university, the quality of the statistics major at UC Davis was the deciding factor—which Allyson would come to experience at an even deeper level through her participation in the RTG (Statistics Research Training Group – a National Science Foundation funded program). 

She has several pieces of advice for entering students. First and foremost, don’t skip meals. Visit the program advisor regularly—they’re not just there for academic assistance, but are often the conduit for news about scholarships, awards, and enrichment opportunities. And don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to professors, either in class or during office hours.

When she’s not volunteering as an Ambassador, in class, studying, or doing research, she enjoys painting portraits and abstractions.  

Brody Lowry Letters and Science AmbassadorBroderick (Brody) Lowry

Statistics major, Education minor
Woodland, CA

Brody’s family has lived in Davis and the surrounding area for almost a century, so UC Davis has naturally been a part of his upbringing. As a community member, Brody knows the campus well; as a student, he has come to realize just how welcoming the environment truly is. His participation in MAST (Mathematics and Science Teaching Program) has been one of his most rewarding experiences, allowing him to see how different groups are affected by the educational system. 

For new students, Brody suggests finding a major they enjoy. “Pursue your passion, not the money,” he says. He adds that sleep is just as important as those last-minute cramming sessions. 

When he’s not in the classroom (as a student or teacher), he enjoys playing competitive Magic: The Gathering and other board games. He’s also a huge Toronto Raptors fan and relishes in a good bake for his friends. 

Briana Martinez Letters and Science AmbassadorBriana Martinez 

Pharmaceutical Chemistry 
Visalia, CA 

When Briana first visited UC Davis, she immediately fell in love. The campus was welcoming and the people were genuine and caring. She found this to be especially true when she realized that she needed to change her major. Briana wasn’t in love with the discipline she was admitted to, so when she began exploring other options and landed upon pharmaceutical chemistry, she found the support she needed to make the switch.  

Her advice to a new student is to remember some self-care. “When you take care of yourself, your mind is so much more capable of doing well!” Briana adds.  

Briana is the president of her pre-health sorority, volunteers at a student-run clinic called Knights Landing One Health Center, and is a research assistant in a psychology lab. In her free time, she loves hanging out with friends watching Netflix, getting food (Schrute Farms beets, especially), or hunting for the best boba in town.

Angie Ni Letters and Science AmbassadorAngela Ni

Computer Science major, Tech Management minor
Boise, ID

Angela, or Angie as she’s better known "round these parts," came to UC Davis to challenge herself socially and professionally, and to make strong connections. Little did the Boise, Idaho, native know that UC Davis is often thought of as an ag school. “The perception that there’s a ‘cow culture’ surprised me immensely when I got here,” says Angie. She’s found it to be anything but, especially through her role as an Ambassador and as the U.S. and Politics head for the campus’s news radio, KDVS. 

Angie’s advice for entering students is to never be afraid to ask for help. Ever. 

When she’s not on the air or doing other scholarly things, which is rare, Angie enjoys music, art, and literature. She wants people to ask her anything about being a non-resident student and to test her knowledge of the Gem State (yes, Idaho is the Gem State—not the Potato State). 

Leeann Taylor Letters and Science AmbassadorLeeann Taylor

Linguistics major, Professional Writing minor
Riverside, CA

It was love at first sight for Leeann and UC Davis, especially with regards to all the trees and the environment. The Riverside native also found there to be plenty of opportunities for students to get involved academically and through extracurriculars, a deciding factor for her. In fact, the variety of her own activities became a surprise (more on that later). The multitude of academics has also played a key role in Leeann’s trajectory, as she has navigated the process of changing her major to a discipline she finds more rewarding and interesting.  

Learning from her own experience, Leeann’s advice for entering students is to try something new and get involved. She suggests trying out classes that sound fun: “You may be surprised at what you find out about yourself!” 

Leeann is a driver for Unitrans, the campus’s bus system, she plays on the women’s rugby team, has been a math tutor in the community, and is an Ambassador for the College as well. She says “the Ambassador program is a great way to meet new people, make connections in the College, and get involved on campus.”