Daniel Otero and Vice Chancellor Kelly Ratliff
Daniel Otero and Vice Chancellor Kelly Ratliff

For Vice Chancellor Kelly Ratliff, no two days are ever the same. While her schedule typically consists of meetings, meetings and more meetings, Kelly’s role in leading the entire FOA division allows her to continuously learn about new campus projects, issues and resources on a daily basis.

As part of the UC Davis Leadership Job Shadow Program, Kelly recently invited three students to experience a day in her life. Through this program, students have the opportunity to spend a day with a campus leader to gain insight into the complexity and challenges of running a top research university like UC Davis. Conversely, campus leaders also have the chance to interact with students to hear more about their own perspectives and ideas.

“Going in, I was hoping to get a genuine portrayal of what a day in the life would be like for Kelly, and to see what it’s like not just for her, but also her staff on a daily basis, running such a large sector for campus,” said fourth-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major Katie Memel.

Although she studies within the College of Biological Sciences, Katie was immediately interested in the prospect of the Shadow Program for the unique opportunity it provides and the transferable skills that one could gain from such an experience.

“I think there’s a lot of skills with communication and being able to manage yourself in a room that transfer into most careers, so that’s what compelled me about the program as far as my own career goals,” Katie said.

Similarly, third-year economics major Daniel Otero also found one of his greatest takeaways as a shadow to Kelly Ratliff to be witnessing how the vice chancellor utilized her communication skills throughout the day. As an aspiring investment banker, Daniel was also intrigued by many of the finance and budget related aspects of Kelly’s job.

“I think one of the things from this experience that I could apply most to my career would be having people skills,” Daniel said. “Being able to have solid communication skills across the board is important to a career in finance, but also in life in general.”

“We pretty much started the day with a meeting and had meetings nonstop the entire day,” Katie recalled. “Kelly got almost zero break and did not fatigue at all, which I think was pretty impressive.”

Like Katie, Daniel also experienced a somewhat similar schedule during his shadowing experience, as he followed Kelly from meeting to meeting on a variety of topics from the West Village housing project, to campus budgets, and current updates to the payroll system.

“In regard to finance, I found it interesting to see how the Supply Chain Management team took into account many finance-related subjects that we study at UC Davis,” Daniel said. “It’s good to know how they apply those topics in the real world, such as the time value of money and how to maximize interest without undertaking too much debt.”

“Kelly was super kind and at every meeting she would introduce me and introduce the people in the room,” Katie said. “You can tell that she genuinely enjoys the program and wanted me to be there, which was both surprising and really nice. It was definitely a very welcoming environment.”

As for her greatest takeaways from the experience, Katie says she would definitely recommend the Shadow Program to other students looking to learn more about the university, make connections and gain transferable professional skills. 


Sydney Odman is a digital communications intern with the FOA Communications Office.