Aggie Jumpstart

Aggie JumpstartAggie Jumpstart is a new College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES) program created to promote inclusive academic excellence and student success through community building, leadership and advising.  In partnership with the Retention Initiatives and the Internship and Career Center, Aggie Jumpstart works to address barriers for first-generation, low-income and underserved students and provides students a network of UC Davis staff, faculty and other campus communities. You’ll connect with CA&ES academic advisors, Career Discovery Group (CDG) classmates, and staff from various campus centers to have fun and:

  • get to know other new UC Davis students
  • connect one-on-one with a CA&ES academic advisors, two-three times per quarter, 
  • meet new people and engage with others from campus community centers
  • develop your leadership skills, and 
  • receive gift cards to local stores, restaurants, etc. upon full participation in the program. 

Join us and get a successful jumpstart on your college experience. Contact us to learn more information. 

Meet the Aggie Jumpstart Staff

Lili BynesWhen I went to college I had mixed emotions. I thought I could handle it all on my own but also felt overwhelmed by the entire "college thing". It was hard at times navigating my experiences as a Latina first generation college student. It helped once I got connected to campus resources and I created a circle of people to guide and support me on campus. As an advisor in the Aggie Jumpstart program I am excited to be a part of that journey for students who might be experiencing a similar transition to college. Lili Bynes, Aggie Jumpstart Academic Advisor



Cirilo Cortez, Ph.D.As a first generation student, my transition to college life was academically and personally challenging. I had to navigate institutional barriers as I struggled to embrace a new living environment and learn to be a university student. My involvement in first-year student programs and student support services helped me make this transition successful. Being part of programs like Aggie Jumpstart when I was an undergraduate student pointed me in the right direction and gave me the skills and resources to graduate.  I encourage you to take advantage of Aggie Jumpstart and of all the support available at UC Davis.  Cirilo Cortez, Ph.D., Director, Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success


Honora KnoppWhen I started college, I felt like a tiny turtle in a big pond. I lived far away from home so I needed to create a community for myself and I wasn’t always sure how. One thing that made a big difference for me was developing great relationships with my faculty and academic advisors. This helped build my confidence to get involved on campus and make new friends. I look forward to getting to know you through the Aggie Jumpstart program and supporting you as you create your community at UC Davis. –Honora Knopp, Aggie Jumpstart Academic Advisor



Noel SalungaOne of the top indicators of college success is having a “caring adult” by your side.  Success does not happen in isolation, it happens when you build a supportive community around you. Create a support network which includes a variety of “caring adults” like family, academic advisors, professors, and student services providers like the people of Aggie Jumpstart.  You will have a great support system once you opt-in to Aggie Jumpstart! –Noel Salunga, Director of the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Retention Initiative 





Lina MendezNobody else gets to walk in your shoes but you. Yet, we all come to this space to learn, grow, mature and ultimately walk that stage. We are here for you as a resource to help you navigate this space and as mentors to help encourage you to finish. It brings me so much joy to play a role in Aggie Jumpstart and be a part of your educational trajectory here at UC Davis.  Lina Mendez, Ph.D. Director, Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success





BellaI am currently a 3rd year at UC Davis and I am a first generation student. Getting to college is a journey on its own and once you are here it is a whole new adventure. I used to think that being first generation meant I was disadvantaged but over the past 2 years I realized it is what drives me to be the best version of myself. Each person has their own experiences that shaped who they are but here we will unite to create a success story for you, me, our families, and the world in which we will impact after we get these degrees. Aggie Jumpstart is here to provide a space for all of us to grow together. Welcome to UC Davis, we got this. –Bella, CA&ES Peer Advisor



Leslie PeekWhen I came to UC Davis I was excited to start College, but soon became overwhelmed by the huge institution that it can be. My Chemistry class was bigger than my entire high school and I felt invisible in the crowd of super smart people. I started small, building my network of support with a few people whom I trusted and then found the support I was looking for, which led me to my career in Student Affairs. As a career advisor and student affairs practitioner, I strive to support students in their transition to college in whatever capacity is needed. I am excited to be a part of Aggie Jumpstart where we will be building community and finding that sense of belonging. –Leslie Peek, Senior Career Advisor, Internship and Career Center


Kayton CarterKayton Carter currently serves as the Executive Director of the Student affairs Retention Initiatives, Director of the Center for African Diaspora Student Success (UC Davis’ 1st student retention center), as well as the Director of the African American Strategic Retention Initiative - UC Davis’ 1st retention initiative targeting under-represented minority (URM) student populations. Kayton has been with UC Davis since January 2012. As a result, he participates on departmental and campus-wide committees, serves as a conduit between student affairs and academic affairs in an effort to coordinate the campus-wide efforts to develop systematic of academic support for URM students. Kayton received his BA in Interdisciplinary Studies (with minors in Education and African American Studies) from UC Berkeley; his Master’s degree  in Higher Education Administration with an emphasis in Student Affairs from Michigan State University; and he is currently a 2nd year doctoral student in the CANDEL program at UC Davis. Kayton Carter’s experience (both formal classroom study and hands-on engagement) in the field of education spans overs 20 years and includes service in K-12 administration, college administration and the nonprofit sectors.


Corrine HawesDon’t be afraid to ask for help! We are all a little lost sometimes and one of the best skills to develop is how to ask for help. Asking for help is how I built relationships with my mentors in college and their help went a long way. We are here to support you! –Corrine Hawes, Student Leadership Program Coordinator




Greg AndersonWhen I first got to college, it seemed so massive and I wasn’t sure how I was going to find my place. Those first couple of months were scary! But finding my community, getting involved, and connecting with resources made a huge difference in my college experience! I am so excited to work with you over the course of this year and to support you to have the college experience that you have envisioned for yourself. –Greg Anderson, Academic Advisor



Marinka SwiftFind communities that make you happy! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and compare our goals to those of other people, but it’s your journey –be you! The communities I have joined throughout my college career have taught me how to reach my goals without losing myself along the way. We’re in this together! –Marinka Swift, Graduate Student Researcher and Co-Coordinator for the Aggie Jumpstart Program




Michelle Villegas-FrazierAs a first generation student, she has worked on this campus for students for 25 years. She is passionate about providing access and opportunities for all students and helping students develop their individual success plans. The Aggie JumpStart program will be a positive factor in this development. –Michelle Villegas-Frazier, Director, Native American Retention Initiative and Native American Academic Student Success Center



Carolyn PetersonGoing from being at the top of my high school class to being just a face in the crowd was a huge transition for me. I was used to getting straight A’s and then all of a sudden I got my first D in Calculus after coming to UC Davis as a freshman. This experience definitely shook me; but I picked myself up, got connected to the right on campus resources, started to excel in school AND was able to find a group of great friends through a variety of clubs and extracurriculars. I realized it was normal to fail, it just mattered how you were able to deal with that adversity. I am so happy to be able to help facilitate the transition for our CDG students and help them get the support and connections they need! –Carlyn P., Lead Teaching Assistant, Career Discovery Group