2012-05-25 / Schools

CSUCI grad earns chemistry fellowship

T.O. man headed to UCLA for Ph.D.
By Christy Fenner


MILESTONE—Thousand Oaks resident Jose Medina, center, was one of the more than 1,300 students to receive a diploma during California State University Channel Islands’ graduation ceremony May 19 at the Camarillo university. Medina is joined by his father, Marco, and mother, Sara. MILESTONE—Thousand Oaks resident Jose Medina, center, was one of the more than 1,300 students to receive a diploma during California State University Channel Islands’ graduation ceremony May 19 at the Camarillo university. Medina is joined by his father, Marco, and mother, Sara. Jose Medina is not the first college graduate in his family, but he is the first of his family to graduate from an American university.

Surrounded by his parents, Marco and Sara, and two younger brothers—both of whom look up to the 23-year-old as a role model—Medina was one of more than 1,300 students who received diplomas at California State University Channel Islands on May 19.

Medina received his Bachelor of Arts in chemistry with a minor in math and has been awarded a fellowship to a graduate chemistry program at UCLA that begins in July, at the end of which Medina will have earned his master’s and a Ph.D.

“To me, graduation means being able to move towards my goal of becoming a chemist,” Medina said. “CSUCI has provided a very solid foundation, but becoming an independent-thinking scientist requires more specialized training, which is why graduate school is perfect for me,” Medina said.

The Thousand Oaks resident came to the United States from Peru when he was 13. Medina said that, though he was well educated in Peru—he took two years of English—the language barrier made school difficult for him when he first arrived as a seventh-grader in Thousand Oaks.

By the time he was a freshman in high school, Medina said, he’d mastered English and was more comfortable communicating.

Medina said the schools in Peru are very challenging and, due to the high expectations of students, required him to be disciplined in his studies—a habit which made it easier for him to do well in American schools.

His hard work through high school has paid off. Because of his 3.7 grade-point average, he was accepted to both California Lutheran University and Cal State Channel Islands.

Medina began his freshman year at CSUCI as a psychology major. After a few psychology classes, Medina thought the coursework was “repetitive, and it was a lot of reading.” At that point he decided he wanted to become a doctor and took chemistry, math and physics classes.

After taking General Chemistry 2 he changed his goal to becoming a chemist.

Throughout college, Medina has kept a rigorous schedule. He said his biggest challenge in college has been time management.

In addition to attending classes, Medina works part time at Jamba Juice in Westlake Village and volunteers at school.

As a volunteer in the university’s chemistry department, he tutored and conducted organic chemistry research.

Medina’s volunteer work and his focus on school provided him with the academic and research background that graduate programs look for.

Medina applied to eight graduate schools and was accepted to five.

“I saw the research the professors at UCLA were doing, and it was in line with my interests,” Medina said.

He will begin his fellowship at UCLA on July 9. The early admission allows students to start research projects and get used to the schedule of a graduate student.

Medina said other UCLA students have told him to expect to be in the lab doing research from early in the morning to late at night Monday through Thursday.

The fellowship will provide Medina with money to do research and support himself as a student as long as he stays in good academic standing.

As a chemistry Ph.D. student, Medina will be required to teach a lab section or a beginning chemistry class.

His experience tutoring at CSUCI helped him to be accepted to the combined masters and Ph.D. program.

“The professors at UCLA look for people who have teaching and tutoring experience,” he said.

When he finishes the program at UCLA, Medina would like to get a job at a company that employs chemists. Eventually he wants to teach at the university level.

Medina believes the key to his success has been hard work.

“I knew I didn’t just want to get a bachelor’s degree but go beyond that,” Medina said. “I knew I wanted to stand out. I had to do the work. There was no getting around that.”

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