Faces of Resilience

How does one remain resilient in a world pummeled by a global pandemic? That’s what we asked members of the UC Merced community. Their answers, shared here, touch on familiar sources: family, friends, career, spirituality, exercise. But taken together, they describe a reaffirmation of what really matters, along with a determination to rise to the moment as the university begins the fall semester under extraordinary circumstances.

I remain resilient through the COVID-19 pandemic by accepting my negative thoughts and focusing more on physical health. I adopted a vegetarian diet on weekdays, exercise more regularly, and adopt new habits such as meditation and leisure reading. Knowing that my family, friends and coworkers are safe is also helpful.

Sandie Ha Assistant Professor, Public Health School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts

Running has always been something I’ve enjoyed, but more recently I’ve grown to rely on this activity to stay healthy – both physically in mentally – in a world that seems to be constantly changing. When I run, I can set my mind free and nothing seems impossible.

Anthony Garrison-Engbrecht Senior Adviser and Chief of Staff Student Affairs

Remaining resilient is giving myself the space to recover through self-care. In my philosophical practice, elevating my life-condition can unleash innate qualities of courage, wisdom, and compassion. Staying present and keeping all aspects of my life healthy, I can be filled with unbounded hope, see creative opportunities and dispel my fears.

Callale Concon University Ombuds

Recognize that these are stressful times, and that civility, patience and empathy are key to navigating social interactions. Both gardening at home and being in natural areas provide resilience.

Martha Conklin Professor, Engineering Sierra Nevada Research Institute

Keep workload manageable and accept that I cannot do it all. Balance UC activities with exercise, social interactions, learning how we got to this point in history, and working for a sustainable future. Visit forests and engage multiple senses.

Roger Bales Professor, Engineering Sierra Nevada Research Institute

How to Do Your Part

Campus Ready is your go-to website for the latest information about how UC Merced is carefully expanding access to campus sites while prioritizing the safety and health of the campus community. Visit Campus Ready to find:

  • Updates from campus leadership
  • Answers to frequently asked questions from faculty, staff, students and parents
  • Details about testing and screening procedures for campus employees
  • Information about the Daily Health Check-In protocol
  • Instructions on what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms or believe you have been exposed.

Setting a positive example for my teenage daughter has maintained my resilience, as we are navigating a changed world. I focus on teaching her to embrace the lessons this experience is providing – lessons like shifting with change, personal and community health, disaster and financial readiness, and the importance of family and community.

Stephanie Zuniga Customer Relationship Manager Center for Business Services and Solutions

How do I stay resilient? It’s a combination of many things – mainly remaining grateful for everything I do have and can do during this time. Appreciating the small things, like the sun coming up every day and the laughter of the kids, and daily workouts. I have been able to spend so much more time with family and for that I will forever be grateful for 2020!

Jessica Johnston Campus Travel Management


I found that this pandemic has put into sharp focus what truly matters to me – both at home and at work. My resilience comes from unapologetically focusing on strong, virtual connections with my family and my UC Merced teams. The way through is together, even if over #coffeehour on Teams.

Jessica Duffy Business Architect Center of Institutional Effectiveness

My source of resilience is my attitude. I consider the current uncertainties and challenges to be a great training ground for adaptability, mental strength and character development. When I think of the obstacles ahead, I think of the person I will become once I overcome them, and that invigorates me.

Yue "Jessica" Wang Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering School of Engineering

Affirming the Value of Black Lives

A nation is holding a mirror to itself, struggling to respond to a legacy of racism and slavery that affects everything from law enforcement agencies to our history books. “The University of California has stated without equivocation: Black lives always matter,” Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz wrote recently.

The university is taking several bold steps, including:

  • Expanding the training of members of the UC Merced Police Department, and reviewing the university's Policy Advisory Board.
  • Working with the Office of Social Justice and Initiatives and Indentity Program (OSJIIP) to expand services and resources that support the success of Black students.
  • Using Counseling and Psychological Services to provide mental health support for people impacted by racism and social injustice.
  • Developing student programs, and modifying existing ones, that focus on racial equity and justice.

Another initiative is the formation of the Valuing Black Lives Task Force. The group will consult with university leadership, alumni, staff, students and faculty, along with the Merced community.

The task force is co-led by Chief Diversity Officer Dania Matos, Dean of Students Jonathan Grady and Academic Senate Liaison Robin DeLugan. Chancellor Muñoz has asked the task force to report its progress and action plans to him and Provost Gregg Camfield so they can consider and implement recommendations within the 2020-21 academic year.

The Academic Senate is working on a complementary action plan that examines faculty diversity; revisits policies and procedures to better represent diversity, equity and inclusion; addresses barriers to diversity in the professoriate; and examines college pathways to further attract underrepresented students to UC Merced.



  • Breeanne Jackson
  • Nelly Aguilar
  • Mohabbat Ahmadi
  • Javier Alvarado
  • Kelly Anders
  • Joshua Brooks
  • Adriana Castro
  • Eric Chau
  • Krystal Cortez
  • Gurpartap Dhaliwal
  • Mike Ebrahimi
  • Timothy Ford
  • Amber Flores
  • Jessica Gardezy
  • Ashu Guru
  • Terri Harris
  • Imtiaz Haq
  • Jennifer Howze-Owens
  • Sushma Jolly
  • Nicholas Krapfl
  • Fredric Leibowitz
  • Elizabeth Lopez
  • Erika Macias
  • Juan Sánchez Muñoz
  • Tana Myrstol
  • Sudheer Paka
  • Shari Pandy
  • Patricia Perez
  • Ashleigh Phelps
  • Chanelle Reese
  • Kassi Reyes
  • Nicholas Santos
  • Patrick Sharp
  • Maria Sicairos
  • Kunal Sinha
  • Monica Sozinho
  • Yvonne Taylor
  • Nong Thao
  • Chou Xiong