In 1965, Delaine Eastin ’71 arrived at UC Davis in the backseat of an old Studebaker. In a time when student loan interest rates were higher for girls and few families chose to send their daughters to college, Delaine’s parents valued education. Neither her mother nor her father attended college, but they saw the potential for Delaine’s future.
Delaine not only earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Davis, but also went on to achieve a master’s in political science from UC Santa Barbara. After a successful career as a professor and politician, Delaine became the first and only woman to be elected California State Superintendent of Public Instruction since the position was created in 1851. In 1997, UC Santa Barbara recognized Delaine with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Delaine believes that students in UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (GGSE) are doing the most important work in America: educating and supporting children. In 2015, she established the Delaine A. Eastin Fellowship to support GGSE students who are the first in their family to pursue a master’s or doctorate.
“[Education] is the deciding ingredient in the success of a state or a nation, in the success of a community or family,” said Delaine. “It is who we're going to be as well as who we are."
Helping people discover who they are is the mission of Samantha Harris ’19, the current Delaine A. Eastin Fellow. Fellowships provide financial support to graduate students to pursue their studies without associated teaching responsibilities. These generous and competitive stipends are awarded on the basis of merit and promise of productive scholarship. The Delaine A. Eastin Fellowship empowers Samantha’s work on language learning and use for multiracial Korean Americans.
“Language learning happens in churches and other community spaces, so multiracial Korean Americans can be cut off young,” said Samantha. “They experience alienation, which impacts their language acquisition. I’m working on ways to create opportunities for them to comfortably engage in their heritage language.”
UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education was Samantha’s first choice doctorate program. Like Delaine, she is the first in her family to pursue graduate study.
“I never realized this until one of my students, who’s also Korean American, said that the first generation doesn’t have anybody to ask for guidance,” Samantha said. “I never considered that I could have people to ask – it would have been so helpful.”
So Samantha sat her student down and told him exactly what to look out for in his journey to graduate school. Samantha and Delaine both pay forward the guidance that teachers and supporters have shown them during their education.
“As grad students, we have to manage our time wisely,” said Samantha, who leads undergraduates in a high school mentorship program in addition to her research. “This fellowship helps because I don’t have to do a 75% T.A. position like I was doing before. I know that with my Ph.D., I’ll have more opportunities. Every little bit helps.”