As a first-generation college student, Jenny Solis ’21, ’23 remembers feeling the pressure of being expected to succeed. At the University of Redlands, she has found that success and met people who have supported her every step of the way.
Originally from Yucaipa, California, Solis became familiar with the University because “everyone I knew went there,” she recalls. When it came time for her to transfer from Crafton Hills Community College, she followed in her friends’ footsteps while changing the course of her life and career.
“Transferring to a private university seemed impossible,” says Solis, who is a recipient of the Wiens Family Endowed Scholarship. “I didn’t feel like I could afford it or that I would be smart enough to fit in. But Kylie [Mulder] helped me through the whole process.”
A successful transfer experience led Solis to study psychology and apply to the School of Education’s graduate school counseling program. “I want to help students seize every opportunity at their chosen university, just like I did,” she says. “The transfer program at Redlands helped me grow as a person, as well as acclimate to a new educational environment. After graduation, I hope to work at community colleges and universities to help create programs specifically for transfer students.”
Solis is well on her way. As a member of the Transfer Student Success Team, she regularly meets with other transfer students to talk about their experiences and how they can help each other. In September 2020, she was nominated by Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Ken Grcich as a candidate for the National Transfer Student Ambassador Program. The program honors those who advocate for the transfer student population.
At the U of R, Solis has also been able to further explore her interests. After participating in professional mountain biking in high school, she was familiar with trail maintenance and clean up. When she was granted a Federal Work-Study Program award, Solis looked to the Office of Community Service Learning (CSL) to find a job that would allow her to spend time outside.
“Being outside has always been very relaxing for me, and CSL pushed me more toward gardening,” she says. “As a student ambassador for the Redlands Conservancy, I completed a summer internship working at the Asistencia Mission, where I created a program that helps visitors identify California plants by scanning QR codes with their phones.”
Her most recent accomplishment, she says, was joining the California Climate Action Corps as a fellow. The program is a key part of California’s comprehensive climate strategy and deploys trained volunteers to support climate action projects in communities across California. For the next eight months, Solis and two other fellows will work to plan and develop a tree farm on the Sustainable University of Redlands Farm, which will provide saplings for a tree canopy in the city.
A native Spanish speaker, Solis joined the team to help provide information to the program’s participants. “During my time at Redlands, my communication skills have absolutely grown,” she says. “I used to be so shy—I didn’t speak up in class or join any clubs. But now I want to be a part of everything; I feel so confident.”