Some paths to Pacific begin at a high school just down the street, while others start at the other side of the world. Gregorio (Greg) Shin's journey as a Pacific Humanities Scholar began in Seoul, South Korea, where he discovered his passion and talent as a writer in high school. An honor's student, Greg's work was accepted by ThisIBelieve.org, an international organization that collects essays reflecting core values from writers of all walks of life.
Since that initial exposure to the power of the humanities, Greg has come to Pacific with the goal of publishing a book before graduation, while pursuing a self-designed major in creative writing and philosophy, with an eye turned toward law school after his undergraduate work is finished.
An accomplished athlete and musician, Greg's ultimate goal is to work toward bridging understanding between North and South Korea, and to improving governmental and social conditions in South Korea.
"I performed construction work as a summer time job for minimum wage in the scorching suns of the less- developed areas in Korea," Greg says. "It was an experience that gave me a new perspective on life and how fortunate I am for my family and well-being."
Sketches of Life
You may see Nicole Cherry before you hear her, but it's a guarantee that she has already seen you and is processing what she observes through her own unique artistic perspective. A Pacific Humanities Scholar with a self-designed major encompassing visual arts, English, and theatre, Nicole is rarely seen without a sketchbook in hand, capturing the world around her as her pencil darts and flies across the page.
"My goal is to become a visual and verbal storyteller, whether that's through novels, animation, or video games," says Nicole, who participated in wide-ranging activities including Track and Field and Drama in high school.
A Commitment to Community
Pacific Humanities Scholars are known for their wide-ranging interests and academic excellence, and Alea Freeman exemplifies the program's commitment to the humanities and social justice.
A Stockton native, Alea graduated with honors at the top 5% of her class and was a member of her high school's International Baccalaureate program for all four years. Alea was the recipient of a Wilhelmina Henry scholarship and was recognized as an All-County Distinguished student. In addition to her academic achievements, Alea played on the Varsity golf team her sophomore and junior year in high school, served as President of her high school's International Baccalaureate Club her senior year and as the Student Representative for the IB Middle Years Program Authorization, and was part of the Students Emerging as Pacificans (STEPs) Program.
In addition to holding down a full course load on the Pacific Humanities Scholars accelerated degree track, Alea is currently employed with the City of Stockton in the department of Parks and Recreation, having worked previously to better her hometown through her employment with Stockton Unified School District. During high school, Alea put her athletic skills and passion for civic engagement to use as a volunteer golf coach with the First Tee of San Joaquin (FTOSJ) from 2010-2012, and as an intern in 2010 with Congressman Jerry McNerney's re-election campaign.
"For two years, I was able to combine my love for teaching with my passion for golf and it was absolutely phenomenal," Alea says. "What was even better was being able to teach participants the fundamentals of golf using nine core values. Through these values, I, along with the other coaches, helped mold the participants into better human beings and, ultimately, productive members of society."
On the rare occasion that Alea has a free moment, you can find her reading, playing piano, browsing her extensive list of Pandora radio stations, and sneaking in a game of Temple Run.
Reading between the Lines
For California Arts Scholar and Pacific Humanities Scholar Sara Wheat, a passion for reading that encompasses everything from classic mythology to modern journalism has led to a major in English with an emphasis on British literature.
An accomplished musician and writer, Sara attended the prestigious California State Summer School for the Arts, a launching pad for the next generation of innovative artists.
"The work you put into a project determines the reward you receive," says Sara of her philosophy on writing and life. "I was not sure I would be accepted to CSSSA but when I was, I did cry because I had put so much work into the application. Being accepted meant my writing was recognized as good and it made me so proud."
Outside of the classroom, Sara is an advocate of depression awareness and counseling for students, and enjoys helping the community and hanging out on campus as a member of Dumbledore's Army. Before beginning her studies at Pacific, Sara was the treasurer for her high school's French Honors Society, and a devoted member of her high school's marching band and color guard.
Pride in the Past and the Present
Breaking Out of the Box
Art has the power to transcend many boundaries, including language, culture, and geographical borders. Pacific Humanities Scholar Ariel Ochoa knows this first hand. As a proud first-generation Mexican-American, Ariel is using his self-designed Studio Art major to explore his love of art, pride in his heritage, and the consciousness-broadening possibilities that art and illustration hold.
"I strive to represent the Chicano population through my works," says Ariel, who hopes to work in the field of illustration and graphic novels. "This would mean encouraging a change within the socio-economic status currently weighing down the unrepresented. I want (Chicano youth) to be educated, and have the opportunities that I have had throughout my life, if not more."
Working in media that ranges from oil pastels and watercolors to permanent markers, Ariel has offered free art classes to students in his hometown; his talents were honored with the Caroline Coldicut Foundation's Scholarship for Aspiring Artists. While versed in many artistic formats, Ariel says that he frequently explores several sources of inspiration, including his close-knit family, his deep faith, and his experiences, in the words of poet Gloria Anzaldua, "living in the Borderlands."
"I have personally sweat and bled in the agricultural fields of Southern California. This, I believe gives me a unique insight towards the worlds of our cultures," Ariel says.
For some of our students, all the world truly is a stage. A highly accomplished theatre artist, Pacific Humanities Scholar and Las Vegas native Ashley Degner has been recognized by the Musical Theatre Competitions of America for her costume designs, was head sound designer for her high school's performing arts program, and is a member of the International Thespian Society.
Ashley graduated as the 2012 Artist of the Year for Faith Lutheran High School, and served as president of her school's chapter of the National Art Society. No academic slouch, Ashley graduated as an AP Scholar of Distinction and is currently a Regent's Scholar.
"We so often become entrenched in what we have created rather than what we can create," Ashley says. "My goal is to create, and hopefully be able to share my work in such a way that everyone will understand why I love each of my creations."
An activist against bullying, Ashley is dedicated to breaking through barriers of discrimination and prejudice. Through her self-designed major in graphic design and technical theatre, Ashley hopes to pursue a career in the animation industry.
Finland Bound, with a Stockton Stop
Many students have come to college with an idea of their post-college pursuits in mind; Pacific Humanities Scholar Kimberly Leppelmeier has a very specific goal in her sights.
"I have traveled to Finland three times and each more I find more to love. The nature and the history of the country interest me. I enjoy the culture of the people and the cuisine," says Kimberly, a self-designed major in English and Classics with an emphasis on British Literature.
An animal rights advocate who participated in Color Guard and Marching Band in high school, Kimberly hopes to teach flex her creativity and academic skills by teaching English in Finland after her graduation.
"My family lives there and are some of the most well-rounded happiest people I know," Kimberly says.