Honors Student Transfers Into Multiple Leadership Roles

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After transferring to Dominican University of California from Santa Rosa Junior College in the middle of the pandemic, Jacquelyn Torres ’22 hit the ground running, connecting with faculty mentors, excelling in academics, and expanding her peer network by joining (and even starting) student clubs and committees.

This past fall — Jacquelyn’s first semester at Dominican — the double major honors student maintained straight As while taking 24 units in Political Science and History. She also balanced eight leadership positions and an internship while working on five initiatives as a member of the Associated Students of Dominican University (ASDU) — most notable a proposal to improve undocumented student support.

This semester Jacquelyn is taking 27 units, spending 10-hours each week working as a student assistant for the University’s archives, continuing with the eight leadership positions, and serving as founding president of Dominican’s Model United Nations team. She also found time to write a blog.

Jacquelyn has just been recognized as a standout leader by the American Association of University Women, which is sponsoring three female Dominican undergraduate students to attend a virtual Leadership Training program in May. The conference brings hundreds of college women from around the country for two days of training and networking.


Jacquelyn is determined to squeeze every ounce out of her Dominican experience, seeking opportunities aligned with her interest in politics, history, and leadership — just as she did as a student at Sonoma Valley High School.

 “I am a first-generation college student, and when I was in high school figuring out college was very difficult. Although my parents encouraged me and supported me, they really could not help me because they had not attended college themselves,” Jacquelyn says. “I became my own advocate, and I became really good at finding opportunities to learn and to grow.”

Jacquelyn’s list of high school accomplishments is both extensive and impressive, including serving on more than 15+ councils and commissions for the County of Sonoma, the City of Sonoma, and the Sonoma Valley Unified School District. She also interned for Congressman Mike Thompson, helped organize a rally with 5,000+ attendees, and was appointed to the County of Sonoma Junior Commission on Human Rights.

“I never learned about government or politics at home because my parents weren’t as interested in that,” she says. “I started to teach myself — reading about politics and then getting involved where I could. I decided to get involved when I saw a major gap in the representation of minority individuals.”

Jacquelyn became an advocate in her community and in her high school. The Sonoma Index-Tribune published the findings of a year-long study Jacquelyn conducted to examine the achievement gap at her high school. She began this research after noticing disparities in her Advanced Placement (AP) classes.

“In my AP English course there was only one other minority student in my class of 40-plus white students,” Jacquelyn recalls. “This was alarming because this was the pattern across AP courses. Furthermore, my school had a majority student body of minority students which meant so much potential was falling through the cracks.”


Jacquelyn collected data and presented her findings to multiple bodies. As a result, the district implemented new programs focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. “The goal, aside from revealing the nature of the matter, was to champion for inclusion and equity,” Jacquelyn notes.

Her impact both in the community and in her high school led her to be named to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s 30 inspiring individuals under 30 list.

Higher education was Jacquelyn’s goal throughout high school. She started attending classes at Santa Rosa Junior College her sophomore year. She also sought and gained admission into summer programs at both Harvard and UCLA — experiences that further nurtured her interest in politics. Jacquelyn’s hard work in high school allowed her to transfer to Dominican a year ahead as a junior.

When it came time to selecting a four-year college, Dominican was an easy choice as it had been at the top of her list for many years. Jacquelyn first visited Dominican as a kid to attend the graduation of her cousin Sandivel Torres '13.

“I remember going to graduation and everything just clicked. Talking to my cousin further helped me make the final decision as her Dominican experience sounded fascinating.”


Last semester Jacquelyn was among the Public History students working with Professor Jordan Lieser in the School of Liberal Arts and Education and a local educational nonprofit Call of the Sea to develop content focused on California history. Researching the Chinese migrant experience in the Bay Area in the 18th century expanded Jacquelyn’s interest in the intersection of immigration and legislation.

Serving as a mentor to other students, especially those who are the first in their families to attend college, is important to Jacquelyn.

“As a first-generation college student with learning disabilities, an LGBTQ+ individual, the daughter of immigrants, and a transfer student, it is important for me that others who share similar identities see my story,” Jacquelyn says. “Growing up I decided that rather than having stereotypes determine my destiny, I would take the power over my life story and continue to break the limits imposed on me by birth.”

And, she will do this always being grateful to the parents who encouraged her to reach for the stars.

“Without a doubt, my extremely strong work ethic and driven nature are a result of having two inspirational parents who have sacrificed a lot for me.”

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