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 2020–2021:  

JimenaCalderon_Letters and Science AmbassadorJimena Calderon

Political Science – Public Service
Los Angeles, California

Jimena first visited UC Davis during her junior year of high school and immediately fell in love with the vibrant community. Coming from the Los Angeles area, she knew it would be a big change living in a college town like Davis — but she chose the campus because of the different environment, as well as the limitless opportunities for being involved with her major and the supportive faculty and staff.

Even though Jimena expected it to be different, she still experienced culture shock when she arrived on campus — but in a good way! She enjoys being surrounded by individuals from all over California and the world, all who seek to contribute towards a better world. Her advice is to be willing to meet new people — expect that you might get homesick, but be open to new experiences.

In her free time, Jimena enjoys knitting, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. She’s also a member of the La Raza Pre-Law Association and a commissioner for the ASUCD Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission.

Simran Chahal Letters and Science AmbassadorSimran Chahal

Political Science
Elk Grove, California

Simran comes to UC Davis from just down the road in Elk Grove, and though the campus is close to home, she chose UC Davis because she loved the campus’s atmosphere and the academic enrichment provided through her major. When she arrived on campus, Simran was still surprised at how many opportunities there are to get involved.

Simran realized fairly early on that she wanted to pursue law school, so she successfully changed her major to political science, and then, like the advice she offers new students, she got involved on campus to “find her place.”

Toward her academic and career goals, Simran has served as a legislative aide for two ASUCD senators and as a member of the Pre-Law Society, the Pre-Law Association, and the Rotary Club.

Tianna Ching Letters and Science AmbassadorTianna Ching

Cognitive Science and English
Roseville, California

Tianna chose to attend UC Davis because of its proximity to her hometown of Roseville — it was close enough, but not too close. She also valued the small-town feel of Davis and really connected with the campus and community. As a cognitive science major, Tianna appreciates the research strength of UC Davis; but as an English major as well, she was surprised to find just as many ways to grow as a creative professional.   

For new students, Tianna suggests putting yourself out there and trying new things. The community is welcoming and there’s so much to discover. By taking her own advice, Tianna has really benefitted from the discussions many of her smaller classes have offered. When she participates and engages, she often leaves with an abundance of information that broadens her view of the world. “Nothing has been more fulfilling than learning and understanding the past and present of different groups of people.”

When she’s not researching, writing or reading, Tianna serves as co-director of the Whole Earth Festival. She also enjoys printmaking and creating digital art in her free time. 

Eva Clubb Letters and Science AmbassadorEvelyn "Eva" Clubb

Cognitive Science
Culver City, California

Eva decided she needed to go to college far enough away from her Southern California hometown to feel like she was independent, but close enough where she could still go home over breaks — UC Davis fit the bill! But it was the relaxed (though academically rigorous) atmosphere that sealed the deal. She loves the college-town environment, and how many events and local activities are geared toward people her age.

Eva’s advice for entering students is to try a bunch of new things to see what might stick — and that could include a new major, too! But, she warns against feeling too pressured to have everything figured out right away. Take the necessary time. In fact, one of the things Eva is most proud of is seeing her own study habits improve since her first year.

When she’s not improving her study skills, you might find her serving up coffee (she’s a barista!) or conducting speech and perception research in a linguistics lab. She’s also involved in the campus’s Greek system, enjoys the Northern California sunshine, and crocheting. 

Itzelth Gamboa Letters and Science AmbassadorItzelth Gamboa

Communication and Sociology
Moreno Valley, California
2020-2021 Leader, Ambassadors of Letters and Science

Itzelth chose to attend UC Davis for two reasons: The campus’s beauty, and its proximity to her home. But it wasn’t the closeness — it was the distance (seven hours by car) that solidified her decision. She comes from a very close-knit family, so she knew that to grow academically and personally, she would need to move away. And though she expected to be homesick, Itzelth acclimated right away to the inviting and welcoming community.

As an introvert, Itzelth recognized that sitting (studying, eating, etc.) alone in your comfort zone is easy. Her advice for all entering students is to just “join something.” There are organizations and clubs for everyone, and feeling like you’re a part of something will be the difference between having an amazing or a miserable time on campus.

When Itzelth isn’t working on either of the two degrees she is pursuing, you might find her working on a piece for the Arts and Culture section of The California Aggie, UC Davis’ student newspaper. She also has enjoyed representing the College as an Ambassador of Letters and Science. 

Quilvio Hernandez Letters and Science AmbassadorQuilvio Hernandez

Economics and Mathematical Analytics & Operations Research
Chula Vista, California

Quilvio first visited UC Davis during Aggie Senior Weekend and was surprised by the people. Ever since, he’s been inspired by the kindness and diversity of the students, staff, and faculty he encounters, who push him to become a better version of himself. As a double major, founder of two clubs on campus, an intern with the Sacramento Kings and an Ambassador of Letters and Science, we agree he’s a pretty good campus citizen.

Like other Ambassadors, his advice for new students is to get involved. With over 800 student clubs to choose from, there is most likely something for everyone. And if not, do what Quilvio did and start one (or two). “No Aggie is alone!” he adds.

When Quilvio is not studying (he once took 28 units — do NOT be like Quilvio here) for his two majors, he enjoys expanding his repertoire with Photoshop, coding and baking. He’s also an avid sports fan — playing, but also analyzing through his student club, Moneyball. 

Scott Hornbuckle Letters and Science AmbassadorScott Hornbuckle

Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Rolling Hills Estates, California

Scott was specifically looking for a school with Medieval and Early Modern Studies — and he found it at UC Davis. He also discovered a broad array of other humanities subjects, and a warm and energetic atmosphere. During his time in the residence halls, he met people he would never have crossed paths with, which was an eye-opening yet rewarding experience. The community supports inclusivity and open-mindedness, and he’s found a place where he can truly be himself.

UC Davis is a large university, so it can feel overwhelming. Scott’s advice for making the most of your time would be to seek out and try new things. The variety of classes and clubs, most one would never know existed, are vast — but there’s something for everyone. Take Scott’s extracurricular activities, for example.

When he’s not studying the distant past, he’s practicing it through longsword and saber fencing as a member of the Davis Historical Fencing Club. He also enjoys writing and drawing digital art.

Beitong Li Letters and Science AmbassadorBeitong Li

Economics and Statistics
Shenzhen, China 

Beitong comes to Davis (California’s top-rated college town) from one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. As an international applicant, she was surprised to learn that UC Davis enrolls students from over 100 countries. But if she suffered from culture shock when she arrived, none of us knew it! She chose UC Davis because of its reputation for being welcoming and supportive — and now Beitong perpetuates the idea through her roles as Orientation Leader and Ambassador of Letters and Science.

Her advice for entering students is to make the most of college life, but to always try your best! Getting involved in research and finding a rewarding part-time internship or job will also help students acclimate to campus.

When Beitong isn’t making others feel welcomed to campus or working on solution sets, she enjoys running, swimming and biking as part of the Aggieathlon (UC Davis’ triathlon) team.  

Zach Luis Letters and Science AmbassadorZach Luis

Applied Mathematics and Economics
Torrance, California

Being from Southern California, Zach admits to not knowing much about UC Davis. But when he visited for the first time at Decision UC Davis, he came to realize what we’re increasingly known for: Getting a top-notch, rigorous education in a welcoming and supportive environment. He was surprised to find out about all of the resources for students, both on campus and in the Davis community. Zach knew then that UC Davis would not only provide him with the place to grow academically, but also as a person.

As a campus tour guide, Zach interacts with prospective students all the time! The advice he routinely offers is to be open-minded when you come to college. Be open to new and different classes; explore other career options; meet new people; and step outside of your comfort zone.

When he’s not in class, studying, or walking backwards, Zach enjoys other physically challenging activities, such as tennis with the UC Davis Tennis Club or a pick-up soccer game. He also participates in activities that don’t require so much physical as mental coordination, like reading, writing fiction, hanging out with friends, and eating dessert. 

Khalil Malik Letters and Science AmbassadorKhalil Malik 

Cognitive Science and Political Science 
Santa Clara, California
2020-2021 Leader, Ambassadors of Letters and Science

Khalil made the short-ish drive up to Davis from his Bay Area hometown of Santa Clara, and was surprised to see all the bikes. He knew UC Davis was a biking campus. But still, he wasn’t prepared for the amount of cycling happening until he experienced it firsthand. The college-town feel of Davis and the overwhelming support felt by students from the community are what ultimately led Khalil to choose the campus.

Khalil’s advice for prospective and entering students is to study what you are truly passionate about — not what you think will make you “successful.” He also suggests getting involved on campus with organizations that are of interest — he was able to visit California State Treasurer Fiona Ma’s office through one of his clubs.

When Khalil isn’t visiting politicians' offices or studying political science, he’s participating in one of many clubs and organizations — including Ambassadors of Letters and Science. Currently, Khalil serves as a Gender and Sexuality Commissioner and a legislative director for an ASUCD (Associated Students of UC Davis) senator, and is a board member of the Davis College Democrats.

Audrey Mechali Letters and Science AmbassadorAudrey Mechali

Hayward, California

Audrey was looking for a university that would challenge her academically and help her achieve her career goals. But she also wanted to be supported socially — and when she visited campus and saw so many student clubs and organizations tabling at the Memorial Union, she knew she would find her place here. And when she did arrive on campus, she was surprised by how many events and activities there were for students — especially during the first few weeks. Like the rest of us, she hopes to get back to these in-person events soon!

Audrey’s advice for new students is to get involved. Joining clubs and organizations (even during the pandemic) will help students meet new people, make friends, and participate in fun activities. There’s such a wide variety of clubs (over 800!), you should be able to find one that interests you.

In her free time, Audrey likes to play volleyball and board/card games with her friends, and finding new TV shows to binge-watch. She is the Foundation Ambassador for her sorority, Chi Omega, and is also an active member of the Davis Pre-Law Society and the UC Davis Hillel. 

Metzli Montero Letters and Science AmbassadorMetzli Montero 

Applied Physics 
Upland, California
2020-2021 Leader, Ambassadors of Letters and Science

When Metzli learned that UC Davis ranked No. 1 for women in STEM, the campus made her short list. She was then made aware that the campus has more than 250,000 living alumni, so she knew her network would be huge. The strong reputation and warm welcome she received when visiting solidified her decision. Metzli has made connections with her physics classmates, building a support network that will carry them through the completion of their degrees.   

Speaking from her own experience, Metzli encourages entering students (and all students, really) to reach out for help whenever needed. The academic and social support resources on campus are plentiful, so don’t let them go to waste. Notably, professors hold weekly office hours to assist students with the curriculum, talk about research, or just to build upon that large Aggie network.

You can catch Metzli at one of the College’s outreach events as an Ambassador of Letters and Science, or on the air for the Cycle News Hour of KDVS, UC Davis’ student-run radio station.

Cielo Montoya Letters and Science AmbassadorMarial Del Cielo Montoya

Cognitive Science and Linguistics
San Leandro, California

“Cielo” is another Bay Area native who chose to attend UC Davis because of its proximity to home. But more than that, this was one of the only schools she applied to that offered the cognitive science major — one of the newest and most interdisciplinary majors offered in the College of Letters and Science.

Cielo’s advice for new students is to attend every event possible, because you’ll meet amazing people with whom you will create your own new, and fun, experiences. (PSA: That means virtual activities, too!) Davis has a reputation for being the “nice campus,” and though the academics are rigorous, Cielo is still surprised at how friendly and helpful people are here.

When she’s not studying, you might find Cielo (during “normal” time) working her shifts at The Market at the MU. She also explores her heritage culturally and academically through Danzantes del Alma, a folklorico dance club, as well as the Chicanx and Latinx Engineers and Scientists Society (CALESS).

Angie Ni Letters and Science AmbassadorAngela "Angie" Ni

Computer Science
Boise, Idaho

Angela, or Angie as she’s better known "around 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 station, 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 nonresident student and to test her knowledge of the Gem State (yes, Idaho is the Gem State — not the Potato State). 

Alex Olvera Letters and Science AmbassadorAlexandra "Alex" Olvera

Political Science
Phoenix, Arizona

Alex transferred to UC Davis because she knew that the campus’s close proximity to the state capitol, Sacramento, as well as the greater San Francisco Bay Area could offer great experiential learning opportunities for a political science student. She also knew the campus was transfer-friendly, and was still surprised at how large and strong the transfer community is at UC Davis.

Her advice for new students is to be bold, take risks, put yourself out there, make some mistakes along the way, learn from them, and grow. Everyone’s college experience is unique, but the commonality is that everyone learns and matures.

Alex has enjoyed biking around campus, including the Arboretum, as well as the town of Davis with her friends to experience nature and many of the campus’s animals. She also spends time playing the guitar and piano, watching her favorite shows on Netflix, and participating in various campus clubs. 

Stephany Reyes Letters and Science AmbassadorStephany Reyes

Communication and Psychology
Selma, California

When Stephany visited UC Davis for the first time, she realized how welcoming and friendly the campus truly is. For the first time, she could actually see herself attending a university — she didn’t get that feeling from any other campus! And as a UC Davis Orientation Leader (OL), she has been able to help new Aggies feel equally as welcomed.

As an OL, she has a lot of advice for entering students. Her No. 1 is to make sure new students know that they belong here, and for that matter, that there are many ways to find your community and to make the campus feel smaller. One way is to visit the many cultural centers, even if virtually during this time. 

During her free time, Stephany loves to go on walks through the Arboretum, swim (not in the Arboretum), cook, and spend time with her friends and family. You might also find her at the EOP office or Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success. 

Violet Ruiz Letters and Science AmbassadorVioleta "Violet" Ruiz

Political Science
Los Angeles, California

Violet made the trip up I-5 to Davis from the Los Angeles region because she was looking for a college-town feel — a place where a great number of the community members are your classmates and college peers. When she got here, she was really surprised at the number of bikes, and how, truly, people bike to class, to the store, and to their jobs.

For entering students, Violet suggests making use of all the campus resources offered. Students don’t necessarily understand that their fees pay for the Internship and Career Center, the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), academic advising, and counseling, among many others! She also encourages students to go to professors’ office hours — in fact, one of her most rewarding experiences was establishing a connection with a professor who reached out to her when he saw she was struggling after an unexpected exam grade.

Violet is an active member of the Sigma Pi Alpha sorority, so when she’s not in class or studying or seeking help from many of the campus’s resources, she’s volunteering in the community with her sorority sisters. 

Kabir Sahni Letters and Science AmbassadorKabir Sahni

Communication and International Relations
New Delhi, India

As an international student, Kabir was looking for a school in the U.S. that had resources and support for scholars like him. Growing up in a metropolitan city, he was also looking for a campus and college town with a tight-knit community. With all of those boxes checked and a strong academic reputation, UC Davis moved to the top of Kabir’s list. But when he got here, the size, both figuratively (in the number of majors and opportunities to get involved) and literally (in the acreage and things to see and do) were surprising.

For new students, he suggests “going with the flow” — which, to him, means being open to what the university has to offer, but not to overthink it. Be ready for the highs and the lows, but don’t lose out on the ever-fleetingness of a moment. As a co-coordinator of the Global Ambassador Mentorship Program, he also advises his peers to separate their work time from their personal time: Work hard, but be sure to practice self-care, too.

When Kabir is not in class or studying for his two majors, he enjoys watching new films (he tries to watch all Oscar-nominated movies before the awards show). But his free time is limited since he has also served as a research assistant in two labs, is a member of the ASUCD Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission, and has worked on the Whole Earth Festival team. 

Aman Singh Letters and Science AmbassadorAman Singh

Economics and Statistics
Fremont, California

Aman chose to attend UC Davis because he loved the campus and the culture on and around the campus. And even though he had heard only good things about Davis, he was still pleasantly surprised at “how nice everyone is to each other.” Aman joins the Ambassadors of Letters and Science this year, but has already gained lots of valuable experience that will help in his outreach efforts, particularly in his data analyst assistant position with the Brown Lab — a role that provides him with a combination of field and lab work.

Aman’s advice to entering students is to try not to be intimidated by professors or peers; to not be afraid to ask for help; and, to definitely make use of professor office hours. In fact, he saw a marked difference in his own grades after he made regular use of office hours.

When Aman isn’t using a Minirhizotron to document almond tree roots or otherwise pursuing his academics, you might find him watching “The Office” (again, and again, and again). He also enjoys working out, especially at the newly renovated Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) on campus — when it’s not closed due to a pandemic. 

Priyal Thakral Letters and Science AmbassadorPriyal Thakral

International Relations and Managerial Economics
Fremont, California

While Priyal was drawn to the small, college-town feel of Davis, it was the friendliness of the campus citizens that hooked her. UC Davis also offers a unique International Relations program, through which she could pursue the Peace and Security track. 

Priyal’s advice for new students is two-fold: Take advantage of the multitude of opportunities available to all students at UC Davis, and get involved. She also encourages students to make good use of professors’ office hours — time they set aside each week to help students with lecture content, research issues, or just general questions about the curriculum. But she suggests it’s important to live a balanced life — have fun, and don’t stress too much. Appreciate what you have and make the most of it.

In her free time, Priyal enjoys reading, being outside, and just hanging out with friends and family. But she doesn’t have much free time. She’s not only involved in Ambassadors of Letters and Science, she’s also a member of the Economic Business Student Association, Project RISHI, Club Finance Council, UCD Raasleela, and is a marketing intern for Bit Project!