By Jerel Constantino '17
UC Berkeley law student and proud UCSB alum Paul Monge ’11 was selected by the University of California (UC) Board of Regents to serve as the next UC Student Regent in July 2017. The Regents voted to approve Monge’s nomination this summer.
Monge will begin his term as as a non-voting, student-regent designate for the upcoming 2016 to 2017 academic year, serving the UC community alongside recently-elected UC Alumni Regent Fran Mancia ’80, who serves on the UCSB Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Monge graduated with degrees in sociology and global studies from UC Santa Barbara in 2011. He credits his development as an activist and organizer to a support system of faculty and staff mentors like Marisela Marquez, executive director for Associated Students. At UCSB, he served as the Associated Students president from 2010 to 2011, where he helped establish the AS Food Bank to address food insecurity on campus. “My time as an activist and organizer in Santa Barbara inspired my interest in public policy and leadership,” he said. “I was able to work on incredible and life-changing opportunities that I would have never had otherwise, like being able to lobby in the state and federal level.”
He looks back on his time at UCSB with fondness, missing the many friends he made on campus and throughout the Santa Barbara community. “There are too many great memories,” he said. “As a freshman, I lived in San Miguel Hall in the Chicano Floor. One thing we would always do after late-nights of studying was to take mental breaks and walk to Campus Point on a starry night. We would sit there and gaze, tell life-stories and experiences -- that was always a surreal moment for me as it reminded me of the fact that I was pursuing my education in paradise.”
After graduation, Monge went on to earn his master’s degree in public policy at Harvard University and is now pursuing his law degree at UC Berkeley law student. He currently serves as a graduate student representative for the UC Student Association (UCSA) committee on planning and budget.
As a someone who has dedicated much of his college life as a student leader, Monge has kept a close eye on the issues discussed at the national level during this election year. “As young people, we have a lot at stake in determining who is going to lead the country in a new direction, not just in the White House, but in Congress and the local level,” he said. “What is at stake are education, public health, and employment opportunities-- issues that affect everyone’s quality of life.”
Monge hopes the candidates remember to consider the millennial generation. “The amount of debt required to matriculate is crippling, and that translates to short-changing an entire generation of professionals, legislators, professors, and investors.”
After his term as Student Regent, Monge hopes to remain in the Bay Area where he would commit his life to public service. A native San Franciscan, Monge sees the current trends of gentrification and rising costs of living in his hometown as problematic. Monge hopes to work around community development issues, specifically, low-income and immigrant families who had been hit the hardest by the Bay Area’s volatile housing market.
When asked what he loves most about being a Gaucho, Monge cannot say enough about the value of the UCSB education and experience. “Gauchos have what many in other universities strive to attain: an incredible life-balance,” he said. “In Santa Barbara, you have students who are able to study hard, but also balance that with extra-curricular activities -- leadership and community service -- and this allows students to nurture all facets of who they are as people. That level of holistic balance and self-care is something I haven’t seen in other campuses. They may prioritize their academic prestige, but other aspects of student life are overlooked.”