Leanne Bolaño ’17 is an aspiring political leader in the field of environmental studies. She’s attending law school on a full ride and is passionate about gender equity, global development and environmental justice. As an undergrad, she secured an international fellowship to oversee agricultural research and served as UC Davis president of IGNITE, a national organization that empowers women to pursue leadership careers in political office. She’s exceptionally bright and charismatic—a born leader—and a natural fit for the university.
Her “Aggie” story, however, doesn’t actually begin here.
“UC Davis was always my dream school, but I didn’t get in my first time applying as a senior,” says Bolaño. Consequently, she spent her first year of college at UC Riverside.
“I found out during my first quarter there that UC Davis had a unique opportunity for people interested in environmental studies to transfer their sophomore year, so I did a ‘Hail Mary’ and applied.”
While she made many friends at Riverside, aced her classes and joined numerous agriculture and sustainability clubs, when she found out about her acceptance to UC Davis, there was no question of what to do.
“I had never even visited campus before accepting the offer for fall 2014,” she recalls. “The first time I came to Davis—let alone UC Davis—was for my orientation in summer 2014.”
Hailing from a Filipino emigrant family to the Bay Area, Bolaño got an early start in environmental education thanks to her adoption of sustainability practices at a young age. After interning at a native plant garden in Berkeley as a teen, Bolaño led a high school initiative to create her community’s first onsite vegetable garden, which became a space not just for harvests but for teaching horticulture and even cooking classes.
These experiences served as the impetus for deciding on environmental science and management as her UC Davis major, with Bolaño earning minors in political science and global international studies along the way.
Once at UC Davis, Bolaño began interning at BRIDGE: Pilipinx Outreach & Retention. By the time she joined the Asian Pacific Islander Retention Committee in spring 2016, she had secured approval for The FilAm Pages, a resource guide that provides information about academic, cultural and community resources for Filipino/a/x- identified students.
Her favorite project at UC Davis, however, has been her Blum Center for Developing Economies grant in the summer of 2016. Through her internship with UC Davis D-Lab, the fellowship supported Bolaño’s research and training efforts in Georgia, a small country at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. As a Fellow, she facilitated a two-week training via a translator for villagers of the town of Bediani.
About The Blum Center for Developing Economies
Integrating education and experience, the Blum Center for Developing Economies prepares and sponsors UC Davis students to thrive in tackling projects—ones that partner students with communities for mutually-beneficial collaborations—in more than 50 countries around the world.
As a part of Global Affairs at UC Davis, the Blum Center aims to inspire global curiosity, understanding, and engagement.