Jeralyn Oliveira ‘13, ‘14: Homegrown Tiger

When asked to choose one word that describes Pacific, Oliveira chose perserverance.

Feb 5, 2014
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Born and raised in Stockton, California, Jeralyn Oliveira '13, '14 is proud to call it her hometown. Actually it was one of the reasons she chose to attend Pacific. Oliveira doesn't hesitate when asked about her background. She is a first generation student and comes from a low-income background, something Oliveira also takes pride in. Oliveira was awarded Pacific's Community Involvement Program Scholarship and said "Without the program, I wouldn't be here today." The program recognizes students from low-income backgrounds and who have demonstrated potential for sustainable leadership, community awareness, and involvement.

Growing up Oliveira said she always wanted to be a physician assistant. When asked why not the physician, she said she didn't know why. Through the encouragement and motivation of her fourth grade teacher, Mr. Strawn, she slowly started to realize her potential. "Mr. Strawn taught me to never settle for anything that was lower than my potential. He gave me the courage to become the physician and not the physician assistant," said Oliveira.

Oliveira is a graduate student in the 15 month master of science in speech-language pathology (SLP) program. She recalled the haze that came with graduating from high school and not even knowing where to begin with choosing a career. "I was so excited when I learned that I was accepted to Pacific, but I had no idea what to major in." Luck was on her side when she was roomed with a graduate student in the SLP program. "I loved listening to her talk about her classes and clinical experience. It seemed so challenging yet fun." Encouraged by her roommate, she enrolled in an introductory course and never looked back.

In spring 2013, she received the Tolley Endowed Scholarship. "I felt relieved because it recognized and validated my hard work and gave me confidence going into the graduate program." Oliveira acknowledges that access to higher education isn't available to everyone and it's one of the most important factors that pushes her to work hard. "I'm so grateful for the opportunity to go to college. I want to live up to my full potential and be a good role model to my nieces and nephews," she said. She is an aunt to three nieces and one nephew.

Role models that have made an impact in Oliveria's life are Dr. Michael Susca, Professor Department of Speech-Language Pathology, and Alison Dumas, Director for the Community Involvement Program. She admires Dr. Susca's work and his passion for the profession and appreciates how he challenges his students to become the best clinicians. "Alison is so supportive and compassionate and it's great to be mentored by someone who understands and shares a similar background," said Oliveira.

If she could offer some advice to prospective students, Oliveira said she would encourage them to take an introductory class or make time to observe some courses and schedule a meeting with Professor Simalee Smith-Stubblefield '83. She also added that it is important for them to learn how to be organized and keep busy but also find "me" time.

Outside of the classroom, Oliveira enjoys painting and spending time cheering for her nieces and nephew at their sporting events. One of her nieces plays softball, a sport she loved and grew up playing. Some interesting facts about Oliveira are she has a fear of pregnant bellies because they look so delicate, loves to shop, is learning how to coupon, and loves trees. "I don't know much about trees, but when I imagine where I'll live someday, it's a home surrounded by trees."

Support students like Oliveira by contributing to the SLP Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship by contacting Susan Webster at swebster@pacific.edu or 209.946.3116.

about the author

Dua Moua   Dua Moua '09 is the Marketing Communications Assistant at the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Pacific.