Slug Student Success Stories

Slug Stories is a new initiative for College 9 and College 10. Inspired by Story Corps and Humans of New York, the creation of a story archive of all entering students, written early in their first year, is based on a prompt that asks students to talk about formative experiences, how they overcame struggles, grappled with identity, and explored their aspirations. Students feel a strong sense of belonging when they see themselves as producers of knowledge: we can simultaneously retain and train them, building a sense of belonging as well as honing writing, analytical inquiry, and critical thinking skills.

This project included a narrative writing component added to the first-year Core course. “Story slams” were held around themes like resilience, grit, perseverance. A social media and outreach campaign showcasing UC Santa Cruz’s diverse students was launched and a database was developed for faculty and students generating information about changing student demographics. 

The benefits of the “Slug Stories” project are manifold: it symbolizes that all students are part of the tapestry that makes up this university. For underrepresented students especially, the act of personal narrative entails assertions such as: “I have a voice. My experiences are meaningful. I am clear about my aspirations and goals about higher education.”

This project gave students the opportunity to critically examine the ways in which others have “storied” them, and to explore whether these ascribed identities truly represent their own experiences and potential. Both prospective and enrolled students can now access the database and hear stories from their peers, thus serving to support their realizing that they are not alone in their struggles and challenges, hopes and fears. Moreover, the online web-based database contains a wealth of information that can be used as a research tool. The project demonstrates the synergies between the many missions of university.


Lead Contact Name: Flora Lu
Lead Contact Email:
Theme: Improving Climate & Promoting Sense of Belonging and Wellbeing