Heroes of CKI
Alicia Ann Ayala
Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation
University City of San Diego, CA
Why did you join Circle K?
I joined Circle K because I did Key Club from my sophomore year of high school to senior year, and... I didn’t feel like I should stop? Like once you’re a part of something, I don’t think you should stop unless you have a really good, valid reason for it. And it’s kind of a good opportunity to get started with something else, because I didn’t feel like any other club would be able to give me the right balance of like, people and diversity, if that makes sense.
Like diversity as in like, people of different backgrounds, people of different ethnicities, who still wanna do the same thing. Like Rotaract and other service clubs -- like I tried to do Camp Kesem, which is another club where they provide camp to kids who have been affected by cancer. But I didn’t stick with it because it was very hard to fit in. It was like all white people, and if that’s not like, you know, a precursor, it was just like, it didn’t feel as welcoming. I don’t know if that’s a regular thing, but it didn’t feel welcoming to me, and they were very clique-y. But then with Circle K, like okay, I see more people who look like me, and I feel like they actually want to talk to me, and they’re more inclusive. (...) With Interact, Rotaract, whatever, in high school too it was the same deal. Key Club is more for like, kids of color and different ethnicities, and there it made sense to hang out with people, because you have common interests. Like in San Diego, where I’m from, people who are in Circle K generally know a little more about culture. They’re not nervous about trying different things or going in different situations, whereas I feel like in other service clubs they kind of go in with like, “I’m at a higher level than you are and I’m going to help you out because you’re a lower level, or you really need assistance.” But then like Circle K and Key Club, we kinda go in, and we’re just like, we’re all on equal playing ground, and we all just wanna work together.
I get that vibe too. I just feel like if you’re a person of color, you automatically have more in common with other POC.
And it just feels, like in Circle K, you could bring up something like more… I don’t know, random, in media? That has to do with people of color, and they would understand. Or, I dunno, like with food too--like food’s a really central part of my life, and so even like now in Circle K and in Key Club, we would eat a lot of more Asian food, or more Mexican food, and it was always stuff that I really liked. So having that at the center was like, double whammy, heart swoon. Just going out for pho with Circle K.
Did you have a Circle K moment? Like a moment where you realized, wow this is for me, I feel like I belong here, or just a moment when you fell in love with service. That kind of thing.
Like a religious awakening.
Yeah! Like an aha moment, an epiphany.
Ah… um… hm. I really--I think even the board retreat last weekend was my aha kind of moment, because I think up until last week I didn’t even know people very well, or like didn’t hang out with them at all. And I didn’t know them because it was very hard to get to know them, and everybody really knows each other. It can be clique-y, so it is kind of hard if you don’t hang out or see people all the time, so that could be rough, and I think being on board is really helping. So I think my moment would’ve probably been board retreat, because I was really on the fence with applying for an appointed board position. Because like, I don’t really know where i stand in the club, and like, even though I love the club, that doesn’t mean I’m gonna stay in it really consistently. But now that I’m on board, I kind of have to--which isn’t bad, but like--
You kind of force yourself to get more out there.
Mhm. That’s exactly it. Like I was like, “You just gotta suck it up.” And now that I went to board retreat, I’m like, that’s the aha moment. They’re not out there--like nobody in the club is out there to be clique-y. They don’t go there with a set goal of being clique-y. It’s just how friendships are, and that’s just how life is. And so realizing that, and kind of being able to meet everybody was more like, okay, at least when I go there, I know I have a couple familiar faces, and now I know I have something to talk about. It’s hard to dive into Circle K if you’re not consistent with it, which was really hard for me, especially in fall and even in winter quarter. I think to me it also kind of sucks cause I feel kind of bad, because I’m also fairly involved with a religious group. And so like spring quarter has had so many events where I’ve had to choose between that, and this and that, and this and that. *sigh* But that’s life. My dad said, um, the other day he was like--I was talking about all the stuff for Circle K and like my other club--and he was like, “Oh, I’m sorry, is school getting in the way of your social?” And I was like, honestly, it really is! I can’t stop--like I don’t have any time to do school. School’s getting in the way of my social, but I’m here for school, so…
So, speaking of school, why’d you choose WFC for your major?
Um, because I am an animal enthusiast who is not crazy like veterinarians, but also does not like research, but might like research. We’ll see. I didn’t know there was macro research. Little known fact, you can do research on like animal behavior, and I didn’t really even think about that. I just think about labs, and that makes me depressed. I think my major is--basically, what it’s gonna do is, it’s gonna tell me, “Look, so this is how the state of California works, these are all our native animals, um, this is how ecology works, and basically, we’re gonna set you up to think... proactively? And then you’re gonna find a career, somewhere, in the field of animals.” ‘Cause I wanna do teaching in wildlife or conservation. End goal is educator, camp programmer--what is it?--education, manager, camp educational materials provider, school visitor educator lady for like a zoo. It’s like the endgame. If I worked at the education department in a zoo, or an aquarium. But yeah, that’s that. *pffbt* Where else am i gonna go?
Um… you could teach WFC at UC Davis.
Ew. *chuckles* I never wanna be a professor. Also I don’t really know why I’m an animal enthusiast that’s not a vet, because I’m like, every single time I look at a WFC major, and they have to go outside--like you know what I was wearing yesterday? Hiking pants, and hiking boots, you remember that from board meeting? Hiking pants, hiking boots, a rain jacket, I look very like, “who is she?” Ughh, so gross. I never wanted to look like that in my life. And now I have to do that. *laughs* This was not part of the career plan, and here I am, so if I could stay out of that, then that’s the goal.
So you don’t wanna go outside?
Um, I do wanna go outside, but I just don’t wanna wear hiking boots. I don’t wanna be the person who’s like wearing hiking pants everywhere and being very, “Yeah, I’m wearing a bun and a ponytail all the time, because i do work outside.” You know? And who’s like, “I love the earth.”
“I’m at one with nature, I feel the roots of the trees in me…”
“I can do hikes all day, every day, 24/7, I’ve gone on backpacking trips my whole life.”
What’s your internship?
You garden? Is that why you were dressed like that?
How is that?
Rough. I garden at Beamer Elementary, in Woodland, Mondays from 3 to 5. Um, it’s for Yolo Farm to Fork, which is an organization that gets kids out into gardens to understand that vegetables from a garden can go onto your plate. It’s at an elementary school. And I’m supposed to understand how to farm, and what vegetables are, but I don’t. So. We’ll see. *laughs* It gets to the end, I’m like, “Yeah, so this quarter I figured out how to plant vegetables.” And I finally understood which ones are weeds. That’s a big step.
In Circle K we do a lot of weeding.
Yeah! So now I’ll be weed director, I’ll be like, “You need to pull that out, you need to put some water on that, pull from the root, yadda yadda.”