TOP 30: Charlyn Arellano

Charlyn Arellano
Major: Literary Journalism
Year: 4
Age: 21
Hometown: Manila, Philippines
In One Word: Catalyst

Charlyn Arellano is passionate about education and really emphasizes the need for a constant thirst for knowledge and information, as well as keeping her fellow Anteaters educated about things on not just a local, but a global level.

Charlyn’s immediate plan tentatively is to go to AmeriCorps, working in the Harlem site, with youth and academic development. Eventually, she would like to go to law school, and hopefully work with a non-profit in education and the furtherance of the preservation of education.

Find Charlyn making her last days at UCI count, as she is looking for jobs, and looking back on her undergraduate experience and all the amazing people she has met.

Omeid Heidari  states that “Charlyn has worked incredibly hard to keep the Office of Academic Affairs in ASUCI vibrant and active in meeting students’ needs…. [her position as ASUCI Academic Affairs VP] is not a position that she takes lightly and it has shown through.”

KS: Tell us about yourself.

CA: I was born in Manila, Philippines, and I was there until I was two and half. My mom and dad are separated – my mom was actually in America, trying to establish herself there, as a registered nurse, and she left me with her immediate family for the first year of my life. She came back, and we stayed in the Philippines until I was two and a half, and then we moved to California. I’ve always lived in Southern California. We moved to Costa Mesa, Rancho Santa Margarita, and then for high school, we moved to Tustin, and I went to Beckman High School. I chose to go to UC Irvine for family reasons –I’d be able to commute and save my family some money.

In high school, I was always interested in journalism. I was the features editor for our high school newspaper, and I was also in varsity tennis. In terms of journalism, that was the start of picking the major that I picked, and it also helped fuel my curiosity for people’s lives, specifically because I was doing soft news features. It’s a lot more of an in-depth form of journalism. It allows more intimate relations with the people you converse with, and I guess I’ve always found that I’m a really social person, and I always surround myself with people. Everyone’s interesting in their own way, and I really like to figure out people’s back stories. I invest so much importance in the idea of having a good conversation, something with substance detail. Details matter a lot to me, and I don’t know if that’s because I developed a love for journalism at such a young age, or because I’m really nosy. I’ve always loved meeting new people, and developing long-lasting relationships. You always hear quality over quantity, but it’s nice to reach out to a lot of different people and have diverse friends. I feel like I am a product of those that I have met throughout the years, and that includes all the different cultures, religions, and code of ethics that I’ve managed to interact with and take from.

KS: What have you accomplished here on campus, and what do you hope to accomplish?

CA: Freshman year when I came in, I thought I had a set goal of who I wanted to be. I thought since I’m Filipino American, I should definitely join Kababayan. I did for a while – it’s a great organization, and I’m still close with a lot of the general members and executive board members, and their mission statement is wonderful. I kept in contact, and I still go to events. However, I found myself the social chair and eventually the president of this music organization on campus called Open Jam. It was a paradigm shift for me, because I really thought I was going to focus on my culture, but I started meeting these people who had a love, maybe not for culture, but a love for music. It was an interesting experience for my first and second years, because I dealt with a lot on the admin programs side. We put on concerts, and we did collaborations with organizations like UNICEF to raise money for good causes , I think our first spring concert that I helped program for was for MTV Save the Music. So eventually, to go back to my roots, I had someone I loosely call my mentor,  the former Internal Vice President for Kababayan, Justine Calma. Spring quarter of my second year, ASUCI elections rolled around, and around then I wanted to expand my horizons further, in terms of what I wanted to get involved with on campus. I heard about ASUCI through a couple of friends, and I spoke with Justine Calma, who was at the time the Humanities representative, and a lot of the goals she had were similar to mine, especially pushing for the idea of TAPS – Tagalog and Filipino Studies. Granted, through my major classes and workshops, some of our assignments were around the budget cuts, and how they affected our campus, the UC system as a whole, and I became more well informed, because I began to examine how it directly affected the Asian American studies department, within the school of Humanities. I did that for a project, and I brought all that knowledge to the table when I talked with Justine, and she recommended I run for Humanities rep. It was an intimidating experience, because I went in a little half blind. I knew what my goals were, idealistic or otherwise. I went in, and under the mentorship of Justine Calma, I made flyers and put myself out there, and I was just really honest with what I wanted to accomplish.

I am the current Academic Affairs VP for ASUCI as well. It was another paradigm shift for me, and I met so many passionate people, and got to bond with people who really truly cared about their respective schools, peers, and fellow undergrads. It really pushed me to examine what I could do my senior year. For senior year, I wanted to make sure I left with a bang. I wanted to accomplish some goals, and push forward an undergraduate agenda that I feel like I almost inherited from Justine. With that sentiment in mind, I decided to stay in ASUCI, and under academic affairs we are able to appoint undergrads to academic senate – the hub of all decisions made on campus at UCI. There’s representatives from administration, faculty, undergraduate students, and graduate students to represent the needs of their respective constituents. The academic affairs office actually appoints a rep to take minutes at meetings and make sure that we are aware of what’s being done and we know how to move forward based off the different needs of the undergrads and different reps.

This year, coalitions have been resurrected, like ESCAPE, and we’ve definitely attempted to outreach to them. Through academic senate, we’ve tried to host different town halls, and spaces that we wanted available to undergraduate students to vocalize their frustrations and agree on agenda items that we feel we should bring up to administration and faculty. We’ve tried to bring speakers that are very in touch with what’s happening on a global level. We do this all in the spirit of making sure anteaters are aware, not just at the local level, but at the global level, because that’s what college is supposed to bring – globally minded citizens. I believe at the end of the day, it’s all of our duties to graduate, and contribute to society and improve the human condition.

There are other programs we offer, like UTeach, Visions, networking, and AMP. This year we had AMP, Anteater Mentorship Program.

Third year I was highly involved with the establishment of the SOAR, Student Outreach and Retention center, and I served on the SIAP, Student Initiated Academic Preparation board. We tried running a referendum, but in the end, it failed though the Vice Chancellor did allot it some money for about 2 or 3 years. That ultimately was a victory. It’s the idea of education – here is a center that is completely devoted to reaching out to high school students, usually in low income minority based communities, who may or may not be discouraged to pursue higher education. There’s also the other side of SOAR – retention – keeping the students here, here, and making sure that they feel like they belong, and they’re part of the UCI community, so they’ll fight to stay here. It’s hard times, and we all need to help each other. I always am a firm believer and a firm advocate for the idea that education will further you in life. Education is the key to a bright future that isn’t just yours, but one that you should share with others. Education enables all of us to help our peers. Because without education, the masses are ignorant and uninformed, and there’s no incentive to help others. We wouldn’t know what’s going on in other communities, and we’d be only invested in our own.  Education opens up windows to see the length between different minority communities, and how it looks in the bigger picture. With high quality courses that we should be getting at a university, this allows us to evaluate the state of our world and our community, and figure out what we need to do to make it better. We all strive to make the world a better place even while we’re still undergraduates. That’s really why I campaigned so hard this year. I like to think that I can graduate with sound mind, thinking that I left some sort of legacy for my successor, who is one of my mentees, to build upon.

KS: How have you been involved with the Asian Pacific Islander community?

CA: I think this is a bit narrower than the API community as a whole, but TAPS, Tagalog and Filipino Studies, has always been on the agenda, and always been something we’ve been trying to examine. We used to provide Tagalog as a language here at UCI, but then it was transmitted by satellite from UCLA, and then eventually that got cut entirely too. It has always been a personal goal of mine. Also, through my service in SIAP and SOAR, we funded a lot of the HSOs that CA and other multicultural organizations under the APSA umbrella have done. I’ve always had a great love for all the organizations within the Cross Cultural Center, and of course, I identify more intimately with all the organizations under Alyansa and APSA. It’s the idea that I come from a very Filipino background, and I’ve managed to come in contact with that lust and thirst for education and to further myself. I’ve seen what education can do, and how transformative it is, so I hope to transfer that to my fellow members of the API community.

KS: Who or what has been the most influential to you?

CA: My mom. My mom raised me single-handedly. She is the sharpest, most intelligent, most resourceful individual I have ever met. She’s just been my rock throughout the years. She’s basically told me, that as much as I would have my friends, people who love me and support me, and her and my family, I need to know how to stand on my own. Not only should I stand on my own, but stand on my own firmly. Anyone can stand up, but it doesn’t take a lot to push someone down and have them stay down. She’s taught me to value my education above almost everything else in life, to value knowledge, information, anything, to always be hungry and thirsty for more information and knowledge., and that underlying work ethic: work hard but be humble. She also taught me to never take for granted the opportunities we’re allotted here. A lot of us whine and think we have it so bad, but in truth we have all these resources we can use to improve ourselves as people, and yet we’re not doing that while people who are more lacking of these resources are doing better than us, because they manage to stay humble, and keep in mind that these are merely tools. I want to look back on my life and know that I have a wealth of knowledge that I use to better myself and to better the condition of others, and this is something my mom has always emphasized.

KS: What are you most passionate about?

CA: Education itself is a tool – it’s a venue through which to accomplish something bigger and greater. My passion is certainly to help others, and helping others manifest in different ways. Whenever  I see someone who is perhaps homeless and is asking for money, as much as people think they scam us, I give money anyway. It’s almost a better safe than sorry thing – this person might be very lacking in resources, or unable to work for something, but I just like knowing that maybe I gave them some money that can buy them some food, or can allow them to get one step closer to finding a warm place to stay for the evening. It’s not self-gratification, but it’s a matter of putting yourself in their shoes – if it were me in their shoes, I would really want people to give me the benefit of the doubt and give me a helping hand. That’s perhaps another idea of why I turn to the option of AmeriCorps. If you see someone in need, do your best to serve them, and hope that in the end there’s someone out there who wants to take care of you, hopefully establishing a cycle of love and compassion.

KS: If you could have any superpower, what would you choose, and why?

CA: I would choose teleportation, and I call this “jumping”. It would save gas and solve my problem of not being able to see my friends. I would also use this to travel to different places around the world. Really, this is probably the most sustainable superpower, because then I wouldn’t be using cars, airplanes, or other forms of transportation.

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    Asian Pacific-Islander Heritage Month (APIHM) is hosted by the Asian Pacific Student Association at UCI and features various programs, workshops, and events that celebrate the APIA culture and address pertinent issues in the APIA community.

    Please refer to the tabs above for more details regarding each event.

  • Contact Us

    Any inquiries regarding Asian Pacific-Islander Heritage Month can be directed to Programming Coordinators, Siamrath (Sam) Boonsakul and Alison Tominaga, at

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