California Cardinals

Among the University’s undergraduate population, 60 students hail from the Golden State. In this summer series of profiles, we shine the spotlight on five students from the L.A. area to find what brought them nearly 3,000 miles from home, and how they are adapting to life on the East Coast.

When Jaesen Evangelista first explored campus during Orientation, she remembers thinking “The grass is real! Everything was so green. You just don’t see that in Southern California.” 

As her first year at Catholic University unfolded, she fell in love with the seasons. “I couldn’t believe the fall colors — the reds, the oranges, the yellows! And I now love fall clothes.” When she saw her first snow, she was so excited she ran outside in her pajamas. Spring brought the cherry blossoms. “I went down to the Tidal Basin seven times. The clear skies, the water, and watching the blossoms blow in the wind. It was a shower of delicate pink flowers falling on the water. I could have watched that for hours.” 

Evangelista has no problem being in the moment, a quality she attributes to her Southern California upbringing. “I try to live a very centered life. I meditate and I practice yoga every day. Back home, I’ll practice yoga on the beach, and often fellow yogis will spontaneously join me. That’s normal in Southern California.” 

Everyone in Evangelista’s family went to college in the Philippines or in California. “I wanted an adventure and I always knew I wanted to go across the country for college.” As a pre-med student, Evangelista is also bucking family norms. “I come from a family of dentists — my parents, my grandparents, aunts and uncles.” 

When she came to Cardinal Preview Day for accepted students, Evangelista fell in love with the community on campus. “The people I met were so inviting,” she says. “I loved that I would be able to study biology within a Catholic liberal arts environment. The biology department is small and personable and the research opportunities for undergrads are unparalleled. Catholic quickly became my first choice.” 

As a new student, Evangelista threw herself into that inviting community. She is a resident assistant, a Cardinal Ambassador, and she serves on the Student Philanthropy Council. And she quickly found friends. “The people in L.A. are so friendly and laid back,” she says. “People here are more reserved but that doesn’t mean they are any less friendly. By Thanksgiving my first year, I had so many invitations to head home with East Coast friends for the holiday weekend.”