May 27, 2024
Milleina Ruiz

Although she’s a first-generation college student, Milleina Ruiz has always understood the value of higher education. The Master of Social Work candidate became immersed in it as a Stanislaus State undergraduate and graduate student. 

Connecting with Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) transformed the Modesto native. It wasn’t just organizing campus events that made her an integral part of ASI, but the selfless dedication to others. 

“Through her guidance and support, she has helped countless students navigate the challenges of University life, guiding them toward success and personal growth,” said Jocelyn Castellanos, ASI programs and assessment manager. “What truly sets Milleina apart is her innate ability to forge meaningful connections and build bridges within our campus community. Her outgoing nature and infectious campus spirit have brought people together, fostering a sense of camaraderie and belonging that is essential for a thriving academic environment.” 

Raised by a single mother and identifying as queer and a woman of color, Ruiz understands better than most the challenges of finding a place to belong. She found a support system and was encouraged to get involved and find employment opportunities on campus. 

She did both, working with ASI as an undergraduate and grad student to help plan and stage events big and small. She also served as an intern with the Warrior Cross Cultural Center (WCCC) for her MSW program. 

“I truly could not have attained a master’s level degree without the amazing support system I have,” Ruiz said. “Without my support system, I wouldn’t have thought about working on campus, getting involved and attaining all the skills and experiences it would bring me. If I could give advice, it would be to root yourself in your support system, find other students, find those supportive staff members on campus, and don’t be afraid to take chances.” 

Ruiz worked on campus as she pursued an education that would lead her to working in education, either K-12 or at the college level. 

“I want to partake in social justice and advocate for students through breaking down the barriers that are keeping them from academic success,” Ruiz said. “Having an education is incredibly powerful and something that everyone should be able to attain.” 

Serving her internship with Undocumented Student Services Coordinator Polet Diaz in the WCCC helped her focus on ways to accomplish her goals. 

“The Central Valley is incredibly diverse, and many students do not have the resources and support to navigate all of the idiosyncrasies of education,” Ruiz said. “I hope to be part of the student experience in some capacity through providing support, programs or services as a social worker.” 

Castellanos has seen her begin that work, already. 

“She has been a driving force for student engagement, inspiring her fellow students to take an active role in shaping their college experience,” Castellanos said. “Her dedication and leadership have enriched the lives of our student body.” 

#StanGrad File


Milleina Ruiz 


Modesto, CA


Master of Social Work 

What memories stand out most from your time at Stanislaus State?

“The memories that stand out the most from my time at Stan State are all of the amazing events I have been able to spearhead or assist with throughout my time working in ASI. For the last four years, I have been able to assist in coordinating events that have allowed me to express my creativity and leadership. During my undergrad, I held the ASI special events student coordinator position, where I coordinated events such as Homecoming Week and Warrior Day. During my master’s program, I had the opportunity to change roles into the ASI program graduate assistant and spearhead events in and around the Student Center, such as Titus Talks and the Live at the Grill series. There is no better feeling than coordinating events and seeing students attending and enjoying these events and programs.” 

Which faculty or staff member had the greatest impact on you, and why?

“Undocumented Student Services Coordinator Polet Diaz is someone who had the greatest impact on me through my graduate program here Stan State. I learned so much from Polet as she served as my field instructor. Polet holds an MSW from Stan State, and we bonded over our passion for advocacy. She has given me so much support and advice and has empowered me to want to continue to advocate for marginalized students within education. She allowed me to grow into the leader and advocate I am today. She showed me that social work within education, particularly in higher education, is a growing need. She has done so much amazing work to support students and the community. She is truly an inspiration, and I hope to make an impact like her.” 

What advice would you give to current and future students?

“My advice to current and future students is to get involved! Join a club, work on campus or attend events. Do anything you can do to spend a little more time on our campus. Being involved makes a big difference and gives you the best memories.” 

Note: This article is part of the StanGrad series highlighting Stanislaus State students who are part of the Class of 2024. Read more StanGrad profiles.