PCC is a school filled with unique students, many of whom come from varying backgrounds, adding to the rich diversity of the campus’ student body. However, many ethnicities are underrepresented on PCC’s campus, as well as on campuses of universities all over California.

Linda Pineda is a PCC alum who was awarded the Inaugural Fred Keeley Coastal Scholarship, awarded to select research students of underrepresented ethnicities at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC).

The scholarship awards students $3,000 to use towards furthering their research at the university.

Pineda, an undergraduate science major, studies paleoceaongraphy and paleoclimatology after transferring from PCC to UCSC in 2014.

The scholarship Pineda received was to award her for her research in “Climate Impacts on Upwelling, Biological Productivity, and Rainfall in Coastal Mexico Over the Last 2000 Years.” The scholarship money will allow Pineda to continue her research in the lab.

“In very basic terms we used a marine sedimentary core from an oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) in the Guaymas Basin located in the Gulf of California and did several analyses on it to investigate OMZ variability and denitrification in the area,” Pineda wrote. “It’s definitely a work in progress, and [the research] is being carried on by a grad student once I graduate.”

Pineda was wholeheartedly grateful and a little surprised when she found she had been selected for the scholarship last June.

“I didn’t think I was going to get this scholarship at all, I just applied because I figured I had nothing to lose and I was incredibly surprised when I got it,” Pineda wrote.

Many students feel that they are not likely to be awarded scholarships, but Pineda would encourage all students to apply for awards, even if the odds seem unlikely.

“I would advise students to just send out applications to as many scholarships as possible and not get discouraged by some of the long application processes,” Pineda wrote. “I also find lab research, or hands on projects as the best learning tools so I always urge students to take advantage of field classes.”

Pineda credits her time at PCC as helping her find her zest for geology; her professors played an influential role in encouraging her to pursue geology as a component of her undergraduate studies.

“I was actually encouraged to join the Dana Geology Club by a close friend and I went on my first trip with them to Death Valley for a weekend and absolutely fell in love with it all,” Pineda wrote in an interview. “We made quick stops along the way just to look at rocks and rented jeeps and went off-roading to the Racetracks, it was so much fun and a really great introduction to geology for me.”

“I don’t think I had a deep interest for geology before [joining the club],” Pineda wrote. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in earth science but wasn’t sure what direction to take with it and took an oceanography class at PCC to see if I liked it. It wasn’t until I got to UCSC and found work in an ocean sciences lab that I became certain that I was truly interested in that.”

Pineda also shared that she wrote for The Courier during her time at PCC.

It is clear that Pineda is a success story for many students to aspire to, and is proof that scholarships that many seem unattainable are actually within reach for many students of all ethnic groups.

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