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Clarice Santos

Seen. Heard.

Cultivating inclusive excellence.

Clarice Santos, a first-generation Filipino college student, faced adversity when first moving to America.
– Clarice Santos –

When I first got to America, I lived in Florida. It was interesting because I came from a country where everybody looked like me—then suddenly, no one looked like me. I had a thick Filipino accent, which I tried to get rid of because I was ostracized for it. Immigrants often have trauma as they have a difficult time assimilating into this country. They may experience different treatment because they don’t really know the culture or speak English very well, which was the case for my family and me.

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Clarice got involved at Nebraska right away, which helped her build an open-minded and supportive community.

When we moved to Nebraska, things were a lot better. I’ve learned about the culture. People here are more open than I expected, and I’ve made friends through the organizations I’ve joined. At the beginning of my college experience, I was part of the Define American Club, an organization that advocates for immigrants. It was fun getting to know people who had similar backgrounds to mine. I’m also part of the Combs Honors Scholars Program. Most of the scholars are students of color and first-generation students. I bonded with them about how they’re navigating honors classes. 

Nebraska College Preparatory Academy (NCPA) has been my main source of support. They taught us skills like asking questions and just navigating through college in general. I’ve had to do a lot of things independently as a first-generation student, and I felt like high school didn’t prepare me enough for college. Without NCPA, I wouldn’t have known anything about the college experience. They helped me adapt. I’m now a tutor for high school students and a peer leader for first-year scholars; I bother them a lot with my advice. My point of contact in NCPA sends us these emails occasionally to encourage us. Even during the pandemic, those little notes that he sends can be really encouraging.

“People here are more open than I expected, and I’ve made friends through the organizations I’ve joined.”

— Clarice Santos

As a sociology major, Clarice has been able to take advantage of research opportunities that have propelled her future forward.

I chose Nebraska because of the research opportunities. I received a scholarship from the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy and attended the summer program. At the time, I wanted to be a doctor, but then I slowly got into research during my senior year of high school when we had to do a capstone project for the program. 

My first hands-on experience was through the program Undergraduate Sociology Teaching and Research Students (USTARS). I was a research assistant for one of the graduate students. We investigated how communication between doctors and patients can be confusing because of the different names they use to refer to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). We researched Google Trends and the different names that people look up.  

For the past two years, I’ve been working on the same Undergraduate Creative Activity and Research Experience (UCARE) project with my mentor, Dr. Patrick Habecker. We’re focusing on a data set about rural drug use in Puerto Rico. I’m now familiar with the environment in the lab, and I’m vocal about my needs. They’re trying to help me publish my work. I want to go to grad school and continue doing research within sociology.

Clarice laughing with student