Spring is upon us when we witness bright, fresh growth following the frigid months; and its recurrence each year reminds us that it’s possible for life to continue after enduring environments that seem designed to freeze progress in its place. Although this year’s graduates are not embarking on their next adventures in a world that is post-pandemic, they arrive at this moment as embodiments of spring’s relentless spirit and in spite of the onslaught of challenges they’ve faced thus far. We are proud to present this collection of 2021 graduates and invite you to join us in celebration of the knowledge that they are on their way to weathering life’s winter months together only to return stronger, sturdier, and ever more glorious.
Nguyen Ngoc Kim Dung she/her
Bachelor of Science, Kinesiology
As the 2020-2021 president of the Vietnamese American Student Association (VASA), Nguyen Ngoc Kim Dung — or “Kim” — was heavily involved with the wellbeing, success, and camaraderie of her student community. Over the past year, Kim and her VASA, Asian American Student Association, and South West Union of Vietnamese Student Association conspirators led efforts to celebrate Asian and Asian American culture while combatting and dismantling local Asian Hate.
Kim is currently applying to the Coordinated Master’s Degree Program in Nutrition and Integrated Physiology at the University of Utah’s College of Health and plans on applying her education towards becoming an exercise physiologist and dietitian. Once finished with her academic career, Kim hopes to contribute to her community and communities of color by advancing cultural competence in nutrition and dietetics information, care, practice, and disparities.
“Have a good balance of fun and work/school. Don’t overwhelm yourself and definitely try not to procrastinate. Talk to your counselors and plan things out because they help you from feeling too stressed.”
Olghen Ocean Saintelus he/him
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science
Olghen Ocean Saintelus is currently taking on the Law School Admission Council requirements to finalize his law school applications and hopes to be working towards a Juris Doctorate this fall. With a J.D., he has a “bucket list” of ways he’d like to serve his community including judicial system reformation and criminal defense. Olghen participated in CESA and TRIO programming and “Greek life” while at the U and advises students to:
“Stay focused, be proactively involved, and believe in yourself.”
Anahy Salcedo she/her
Bachelor of Science, Kinesiology
As a first-generation student and daughter of immigrants, Anahy Salcedo cares deeply about access to education. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Anahy focused on community engagement and outreach projects by founding Science in the Parks, developing community projects at the Bennion Center, supporting underrepresented students as a Second Year Experience peer mentor, and working as a grassroots fellow at United Way Salt Lake. In addition to her new degree, Anahy is looking forward to applying her COVID-forged organizational and time management skills towards a career in education or non-profit sectors to increase education accessibility…and a graduate degree after a couple of years!
“Get involved! There are so many places to get involved, so try it out, and if you do not like it try something else! Do what you love — I changed my career plan in my third year, but I have had experiences outside of my major that allowed me to do that. Ask for help; I think this is so hard to do but finding people who you can trust to talk to is important, like [the Second Year Experience] Program.”
Leslie Salamanca she/her
Bachelor of Science; Health, Society & Policy
Bachelor of Science, Sociology
Leslie Salamanca is a first-generation Latina who used her identities to create safe spaces for those with similar identities and provided mentorship and guidance to others taking on the university experience. Coming from a single-parent household, Leslie’s mother has been her biggest motivator and supporter in continuing higher education and taking on new opportunities. In her undergraduate studies, Leslie was highly involved in internships and educational endeavors with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Early Childhood Development, Center for Student Wellness, and the Keith Sherin Global Leaders Program. With two new degrees under her belt, Leslie will be entering the workforce with plans to complete a Master’s in Public Health with an emphasis in Social Epidemiology in the near future. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. and work with the state or federal government in Public Health.
“Find mentors who can advocate for you and share opportunities that may be of interest to you! I found some of my closest mentors through the TRIO program, CESA Second Year Scholars, and the Famtorship for Social Justice Program. With that, I would also advise you to ask questions. Whether it be in class, in meetings, in workshops – once I got myself comfortable enough to ask questions, I felt unstoppable. It has also allowed me to refine my public speaking skills throughout my undergraduate career. My mom would always tell me, the worst thing they can say is ‘no!’”
Daniela Zamora she/her
Bachelor of Social Work
Daniela Zamora credits community support and engagement to her success at the University of Utah. Joining as a first-generation student, Daniela felt unprepared for the complex difficulties of navigating a Predominantly White Institution and learned to rely on organizations such as the First-Gen Scholars Program, Second Year Experience Program, and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A.) for guidance. In return, she dedicated the remainder of her undergraduate career to providing mentorship through the First-Gen Scholars, Second Year Experience, Center for Student Wellness programs and serving on the Student Health Advisory Committee.
Daniela will be continuing her educational career at the University of Utah through the Master of Social Work Program and is one step closer to her goal of becoming a licensed clinical social worker. She will continue to serve her fellow students during her graduate studies as a Feminist Multicultural Counseling intern.
“Some advice would be to not compare your success or what you’re doing to other people. Everyone is on their own path and just because another person is doing all this stuff and you aren’t, does not mean you aren’t enough, just keep doing you and learn from your mistakes. So with that, I leave this Maya Angelou quote that I have always lived by, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’”