Wildflowers in Super Bloom

Wildflowers in Super Bloom 2019

It was an early morning rise for The Wildflower Initiative Board Members this year as we made our way to Anza-Borrego desert for the super bloom. Keeping with our namesake we followed a suggestion to have pictures taken in the beautiful wildflowers that have grown all over California after the plentiful rains we’ve had. Coffee, cars and lots of chatting to keep us focused as we made our way through the dark to meet the sunrise and the best lighting our photographer could hope to capture.

Sunrise on the highway heading to the super bloom. 2019.

Sunrise on the highway heading to the super bloom. 2019.

The wildflower super bloom was stunning and although still a bit groggy from the early morning trek, the natural beauty that surrounded us was breathtaking. I was elated that all board members made it and enjoyed the time together interacting on politics, social media, travel, and assisting one another with hair and make-up. It was inspiring to see a diverse group of women connect, laugh, and bond living our mission to empower women.

l-r: Nadia Mandilawi, Sarah Cox, Tiana Uribe, Christina Graff-Tovar, Cami Eiskamp

l-r: Nadia Mandilawi, Sarah Cox, Tiana Uribe, Christina Graff-Tovar, Cami Eiskamp

As we continue to expand our reach placing reading spaces into homeless and transitional spaces for women and children, I’m grateful to connect with passionate people along the way. This journey into the super bloom feels like a metaphor for the growth of wildflower and I feel energized and excited for our future.

Jenny's Jungle Delivered

Jenny's Jungle Delivery at YWCA San Diego

Jenny's Jungle Delivery at YWCA San Diego

When we began this initiative last year, meeting with the YWCA San Diego to develop a campaign that would honor Jenny, I didn't realize the magnitude of lives it would touch. We held Book Drives and heard from families across the county about how meaningful it was to donate their beloved books to children in need. We received calls from parents with children that had left for college and were reflecting fondly on memories of them snuggled up with a book and the impact reading had on their lives. We met teachers, business owners, non profit organizations, and children sharing beloved stories and fond recollections of grabbing a book and entering another world. For children fleeing domestic violence situations and homelessness, we are hopeful these reading spaces provide a safe place to heal, to dream and find comfort. 

Jenny and I met in Advanced Placed English our freshmen year of high school when we were seated alphabetically. We immediately clicked.  We would go on to sit together for the next four years of high-school, graduate and major in Comparative Literature at the same college taking many of the  same classes together. Jenny loved reading and dove headfirst into a course dedicated only to the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky. I had contemplated it until I learned one of his books, The Brothers Karamazoo, was nearly 800 pages! I happily enjoyed her summary of it over the semester. It was these times, when we exchanged thoughts, ideas and contemplated possibilities, that we bonded. There was magic in those conversations, finding our way and discovering ourselves as we journeyed to other times, and lands, met kings and queens, and embarked upon adventures. We hope the children that enter the reading spaces embark upon all the riches of a great read too. 




The Jenny Wyer Memorial Scholarship at SDSU


SDSU Women's Studies is ready for applicants to the Jenny Wyer Memorial Scholarship. Students must be studying abroad the semester they apply. An application, essay and minimum 3.0 GPA are required. 

**Application period February 22-May 13, 2016 3 pm PST.

***Scholarship details: 

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" -Maya Angelou

Study Abroad India Impacts a Students Life

Taj Mahal, India 2015

Taj Mahal, India 2015

The Taj Mahal, a sweet love story between an Emperor and his beloved that thousands visit annually as one of the World's Wonders, it continues to impact students leaving home for the first time. They are enchanted with the beauty, the hardships, the endurance and the love of India. Ashley Amundson experienced the rich culture and was moved by her experience. Ready to come home and make a difference.

Participating in Study Abroad SDSU through Women's Studies, Amundson describes her life changing trip this past year:


My trip to India was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences I’ve 

ever had in my entire 29 years of existence. It changed who I am as a feminist as well as 

a human being. There are things that we saw and learned that most people won’t ever 

do in their lifetime. We visited the Taj Mahal, met the Dahlia Lama, and learned about 

culture, religion and feminism. We not only learned about the daily struggles that Indian 

women faced- we saw them. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to gain firsthand 

experience of other cultures. Not only is it eye-opening but its life-changing. While some 

may think that it doesn’t apply to our lives here in America, I can tell you it does. What I 

learned in India was the importance of sustainability, mindfulness, gender roles, and 

reaching the ultimate goal- happiness. I encourage everyone to step out of their comfort 

zone and immerse yourself in a culture much different from your own. It will boost your 

intellect as well as reboot your inner self. Personally, when I returned from India I felt 

like a different person- a better version of myself. I was ready to tackle the world and 

create a difference- that is something that you can’t learn purely in a classroom. 

- Ashley Amundson


Assist us in impacting students like Ashley with new experiences that build confidence and drive to make a difference in their own communities.

Seeking Time and Talent: Grow With Us!

Dream of assisting a Non-Profit but think the time commitment is too much? We are seeking assistance in several areas with a wide range of time requests. Share with us how you can assist The Wildflower Initiative blossom and grow! 

**Email us a 1-page Resume/Bio, brief and descriptive with an objective on why you want to volunteer/join The Wildflower Initiative. We will respond to all inquiries! Email: info@thewildflowerinitiative.com

Time changes everything except something within us that is always surprised by change
— Thomas Hardy

The Wildflower Initiative

Time and Talent

Ready to be apart of The Wildflower Community? We are seeking assistance with the following positions:

Lead Event Organizer

·      Research markets to identify opportunities for event

·      Produce detailed proposal for events. i.e. timelines, suppliers, venues, legal obligations, staffing, and budget

·      Managing silent auction, raffle and overseeing all donated items, forms, tickets and complete oversight reporting to Board of Directors

·      Securing and booking venue

·      Presenting insurance legal, health and safety obligations

·      Organizing facilities for car parking, traffic control, security, first aid

·      Planning room layouts and entertainment schedule, scheduling workshops and demonstrations

·      Coordinating staff requirements and debriefings

·      Coordinating with Board of Directors

·      Preparing delegations packets

·      Coordinating suppliers and handling B2B and B2C inquiries

·      Assistance with ticket sales, posters, media, social media coverage, sales brochures

·      Set-up and dismantling of all event promotional materials

·      Pre and post evaluation of event

Event Coordinator

*Assistant to Lead Event Coordinator with reduced time commitment. Fully engaged and integrated on day of events and pre/post event operations.

Photography/Video/Multi Media Specialist

·      Knowledge of video editing, programming

·      Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Visual effects, Graphic Design and/or other like video software

·      Collaborate with Board of Directors on engaging, relevant, visually appealing content to engage our demographic

·      Direct, shoot and edit short videos for social media and online channels

·      Manage audio and video production hardware

Promotion Manager

·      Work with Board of Directors to create content for promotions

·      Send promotions through word of mouth, social media, advertisements, in-store displays, product endorsements

·      Assist in determining time line of promotions

·      Market promotions to businesses for donations

·      Organize and analyze donations with Lead Event Organizer for silent auction, raffles and donations.

·      Clear understanding of Call To Action

·      Press Releases

Social Media Manager

·      Assist the Board of Directions with managing written and visual content

·      Strong background in social media sites: Twitter, Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Vimeo and YouTube

·      Promotion of content

·      Understanding of CMS platforms

·      E-newsletter 

·      Strong ability to connect online with demographic and B2B/B2C

Media/News Affiliation/Contacts

·      Contact within media, news and other affiliates to promote The Wildflower Initiative Events, Brand and Awareness for the cause.

Lead Field Technician

·      Manage set-up, cleanup of all props, materials

·      Assist with video set-up, speakers, audio and visual presentation

·      Coordinate with Lead Event Organizer and Promotions on placement of all variables: silent auction, marketing materials, etc.

Wildflower Advocates

·      Create brand awareness through promotion of events on social media and through current network of friends

·      Like, Share and Request follows, likes from friends and family

·      Come to events!

Taste of Italy Evening Filled with Heart and Soul

It was an evening that began quietly inside a donated restaurant space in the bustling neighborhood of Little Italy. As guests arrived, they were greeted by a team of Wildflower board members, interns, friends and family to amazing appetizers and Italian wine. Mingling and roaming between indoor/outdoor space, bidding on auction items and taking in the beautiful space, you could feel the love and excitement in the air. The speeches kicked off with Founder, Tiana Uribe and concluded with study abroad student Tiana Vargas. Vargas gave insight to the financial struggles of study abroad and moved the audience to tears.

People move mountains for education and for a study abroad experience that changes them. It opens up all the possibilities in the world and allows them to be global citizens. Connected to the world in a way a classroom experience can attempt, not giving the taste, feel, touch that international travel delivers.

Our first event was an amazing success. Thank you for supporting The Wildflower Initiative. Our deepest and sincerest gratitude to all of you!

Founder Tiana Uribe's Speech:

Welcome, to our first annual Wildflower Initiative event to fund students traveling abroad. I’m Tiana Uribe and I created the WFI. On behalf of the board of directors, there aren’t words that can express our deep gratitude for you here tonight. This grass roots organization is a labor of love with humble beginnings.  

(deep breath and smile) It was less than a year ago, I sat with friends over dinner reminiscing our cherished friend Jenny Wyer. The Wildflower Initiative was born to celebrate our lost friend and to empower students to find their voices and discover themselves.    

Jenny Wyer

Jenny Wyer

Bonding over sacred memories of Jenny’s strength and intelligence was significant in itself but here I am today to share with you her curious spirit, and the essence of this incredible organization. The purpose, and passion of the Wildflower Initiative is to empower and fund students to leave the safe confines of their comfort zones, to seek study abroad opportunities, to really see and know the world from a global perspective, and to bring what they learn back to their own communities. Self-discovery is also at the heart of this; it is our hope that students will find more about who they are, what matters to them, and how they connect in this world.  

Let’s meet Miriam. In 2012, Miriam was an average student trying to find her way after high school. She was attending community college here in San Diego and like many students, Miriam was figuring out life. She was unsure of her plans and more importantly, was asking herself important questions of self-discovery: “Who am I? What do I care about and “How will I spend my life?”  

When a friend attending SDSU introduced her to the possibility of a study abroad experience far, far from home in Kingston, Jamaica, she felt intimidated at first and then hopeful and excited.

Kingston, Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica

When I asked Miriam what she learned on her trip, she said, “I learned the struggles of another human being. I developed a loving friendship with our cook, who took me under her wing, and taught me not only great cooking lessons but more importantly, taught me how to spread my love with those around me.”

Study abroad helped Miriam discovery who she is and how to be a global citizen. She is now working with a safe home located in Rosarito, Mexico where disabled and sick children that have been abandon after their parents refuse to care for then any longer. She works with a group of nuns, who independently go out each morning around the community and beg for fruits and vegetables, work day and night in helping care for those children. The children have a wide range of mental, and physical disabilities. With out any proper or stable help from anyone.  

And this why, we are all here today. To make a difference for all of the Miriam’s in our community and for all of the jenny’s that no longer have the gift of roaming this planet. We are here to come together and bite off our own piece of changing the world.

The WFI is aligned with SDSU Women’s Studies Department. This partnership is so fitting because we share the goal of empowerment. This collaboration began with Jenny over two decades ago. It was our 2nd year of undergraduate study when she changed my life and pulled me into taking a course in Woman’s Studies where I learned that everyone has something to contribute and say and each person’s contribution matters.

Tiana Vargas-Student and Dr. Doreen Mattingly Co-Chair, SDSU Women's Studies

Tiana Vargas-Student and Dr. Doreen Mattingly Co-Chair, SDSU Women's Studies

 The Women’s Studies Department of SDSU is the oldest Women’s Studies Department in the entire nation, running 45 years strong yet; it is one of the most underfunded departments at San Diego State. Today, more than ever, we are starting to pay attention to the fact that every person counts

I have a 6-year-old daughter, Nyah. She was once asked during an art class to draw a picture of her choice. Something you should know about my child, is she’s always been a bit of a firecracker. She streaks buck naked through the house with her red cowgirl boots, drawing moustaches on her upper lip with my eye-liner and asking questions far beyond her years.

Nyah Uribe Williams

Nyah Uribe Williams

One morning, she asked, “how are babies made?” Ah. The question all parents look forward to. I try speaking to her using accurate terminology. So when she said, “baby’s grow in bellies”, I said, “Well, actually they grow in a women’s uterus. Being somewhat unprepared for this conversation with my 4 year old in gridlocked traffic on the I-5, I summarized the main points.  And I thought, well that conversation is over for a while. Later the next week, I picked her up and she rushed to show me her art piece. SHOW ART “Look mom, look what I drew,” I had no idea what it was until she said, “Oh Mom, it’s your uterus.” This memory is still crystal clear in my mind because the picture took center stage on our fridge for nearly two months. I tell you all this story, because we all want a world for the people we love to have the freedom to choose what art they draw in school, who they marry, what they believe in, and how to find their voices and navigate all the possibilities in this world. 

The WFI believes travel during the college years can have a significant impact on self-discovery, creating independence and global citizens that care about more that the aps on their iPhone. There’s a big world out there.  

Our organization is comprised of three board members and two interns. We may be small in size and budget but we are tenacious and committed to funding 5 scholarships a year for students to study abroad through Women’s Studies SDSU.

The Wildflower Initiative

The Wildflower Initiative

We need you. Your donation matters. 

Let me be direct. Creating something out of nothing takes people who have grit and it takes… money. Tonight is about celebration and it’s about fund raising. Every single cent you give will go directly to pay for all aspects of 5 study abroad programs. Plane tickets, international course fees, student housing, the bus loaded with goats to access remote corners of the world.

No funds will be used for administrative costs, websites, events, or labor hours. All administrative management, planning and costs are the blood, sweat and tears of board members, interns, friends and family. So please, tonight, be generous. We all have so much.  Give to a cause where you know how every dollar will be spent. Give to a cause that will transform lives like Miriam’s.

You can give by making a donation via credit card, check, or cash to either of our interns Christina and Samantha. You can support this cause by purchasing gift baskets, book totes and bidding on our auction items. We are also always looking for future donations and items we can use for fundraising.

We want to you to be part of our community. This community that is inspired by Jenny. Come to events and invite your friends.  If what we talk about tonight, has an effect on you, consider donating you time and talents and become part of TWFI. Drop a business card with one of us, or sign your name on our time and talent sign sheet and we will reach out to you.  Tonight, eat, drink, connect and enjoy.

I’m so pleased to introduce to you, someone who is here tonight, giving their time and talent. Camille Carter is a Marriage and Family Therapist here to share with us a little about the mental and physical health benefits of unplugging from life. So if you have been looking for a reason to get away, Camille just might give you the reason to make it happen. Please join me in welcoming her. 

Student reflecting in India. Study Abroad 2015

Student reflecting in India. Study Abroad 2015







Enduring Strawberry Fields: UCLA Grad Honors Parents with Moving Tribute

Gonzales Family 2015-Photo Credit: @eljorgeflores

Gonzales Family 2015-Photo Credit: @eljorgeflores

Strawberries are a fruit many of us can imagine tasting on a warm summer day or blended in a favorite smoothie throughout the year. California is the nation’s leading producer of strawberries. They are a staple in many household diets. For Eunice Gonzales, strawberries are more than a fruit to eat; they are a labor of love. Gonzales is the first generation in her family to attend and graduate college. At 22, she was determined to celebrate that accomplishment with her parents. Gonzales organized a photo shoot in the strawberry fields her mother and father work in with photographs that reflect love and the resilience of family, sharing in the fruits of their hard earned labor. (1)

Gonzales Family in the Strawberry Fields-Photo Credit: @eljorgeflores

Gonzales Family in the Strawberry Fields-Photo Credit: @eljorgeflores

Strawberry plants or “La fruta del Diablo”—the fruit of the devil, is notoriously difficult to grow. Strawberries are hand picked, often rushed to coolers with huge fans to remove field heat and shipped within 24 hours on refrigerated trucks. Fragile, delicate and extremely temperamental, working strawberry fields is not for the faint of heart. Dependent on natural elements such as sunlight, rain, and wind; strawberry picking is one of the lowest paid and least desirable labor jobs amongst farm workers The crop can be wiped out in an instant with insect infestation or temperature fluctuations. A potentially costly endeavor for farmers. Working in a 2 billion dollar industry, taking care to gently wash and quickly sort to slice, freeze or keep whole can make all the difference in a farmer’s bottom line. (2)(3)

During winter and summer breaks, Gonzales worked the strawberry fields with her parents rising at 5 am to prepare the family for their 12-hour day.  Her parents now own their strawberry business. While many owners hand over the daily operations and retire from the grueling fieldwork, the Gonzales family continues with the same intensity they began with so many years ago. Her father manages the day-to-day operations, while her mother carry’s forward in the fields. Their work has motivated their daughter to seize the opportunity for education and instilled insight far beyond her years. Committed to her education during the school year, she applied for over 20 scholarships, while still in school, involved in a multitude of non-profit organizations and scholastic endeavors. 


Eunice Gonzales and parents-UCLA Graduation 2015. Photo Credit: @eljorgeflores

Eunice Gonzales and parents-UCLA Graduation 2015. Photo Credit: @eljorgeflores

The Wildflower Initiative (TWI) had the opportunity to interview Eunice Gonzalez. An inspirational, true story of persistence, endurance and determination, Gonzalez is an authentic breath of fresh air, finding her voice and gratitude with a family supportive of her education. 

Interview with Eunice Gonzalez

Did high-school activities prepare you for college? 

EG: I was really active in sports participating in track, tennis and soccer. I was involved in on campus clubs and organizations including youth summer programs and a non-profit called, “Fight Back”. It’s a collaboration that partners with businesses, residents, and government to improve neighborhoods, strengthen families and encourage youth development creating a safe, healthy and thriving environment (Fight Back Partnership).

How were you able to attend UCLA, one of the top ranked schools in the world on scholarships?

EG: I applied to several scholarships in high school before college. It wasn’t just one, but a combination of scholarships. My parents are farm workers, watching them work allowed me to see the importance of education. I was once told, “You can work a minimum wage job or submit a well thought out involved scholarship”. It kept me motivated when I was rejected, to keep trying.  I’m very resourceful and I kept trying and applying. I was little embarrassed about how many times I applied through the UCLA Scholarship Department and them seeing my name again and again. But maybe that worked to my benefit. Here’s this person, she keeps coming back.

What are your thoughts on Study Abroad Programs?

EG: I was able to go on two study abroad trips this year. First to Spain, then to Oaxaca where my parents are from. Oaxaca was a transformative experience. I went with a UCLA professor doing work to establish economic strategies in the state. My experience visiting family there was genuinely an amazing experience. The food, culture, economics, I soaked it all it in. It was also an experience in the marginalization and oppression of our culture. Poverty and low wage jobs force migration.

What would you say to students considering applying for a Study Abroad Scholarship?

EG: APPLY! The opportunity to travel and experience another culture and lifestyle can be fleeting especially once you’re out of school. Take advantage and explore the world. You will gain a new perspective. We live in a microcosm.

What does the future hold?

EG: I’m taking time to explore my options. Graduate school will most likely be in my future. I’m considering preparing for both the GRE and LSAT. I’m interested in Immigration Law and the Non Profit Sector. Although the job market is difficult, I think about a Ph.D. to teach at a university.


TWI: Thank you Eunice! Congratulations to you and your family on the accomplishment. We appreciate you taking the time to speak with us.

EG: No problem! Thank you. I think what you’re doing is great. It’s organizations like The Wildflower Initiative that make a difference in student’s lives.

**You can follow Eunice on Tumblr at 'Mariposa-Reina'. Click here.



(1)(2) Grotto, Dave. (2015). About Strawberries. Retrieved from: http://www.californiastrawberries.com/about_strawberries

(3) Schlosser, Eric. (2015). In the Strawberry Fields. Retrieved from: http://www.theatlantic.com/past/issues/95nov/strawber.htm

Becoming a Wildflower: The Wildflower Initiative

Ensenada, Mexico 1997. Jennifer Wyer and Tiana Uribe.   The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. -William Shakespeare

Ensenada, Mexico 1997. Jennifer Wyer and Tiana Uribe. 

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. -William Shakespeare

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel
— Maya Angelou

The Wildflower Initiative has humble beginnings. Really, it's three women that bonded together after the passing of a beloved friend. Graduating at different stages of life from the same college, and starting a grass roots organization to enable more students to study abroad and possibly live out some dreams. It began with emails, phone calls and eventually meetings to collaborate. The Department may think we're a blessing, but I think we're the ones most inspired. Working to assist the students at San Diego State University (SDSU) that walk through the halls everyday, reading and dreaming of places their minds can only imagine. Experiences they haven't lived. Food they've yet to taste, next to oceans they've never seen. Different cultures, politics, religions, educational systems, homes, and ways of living. What will they see on their journey? How will their experiences impact them and the communities they come home to? I've been thinking of all the questions I want to ask. I'm eager to meet them. To hear their stories and have them share their travel experiences with us. 

Beauty awakens the soul to act
— Dante Alighieri

Will the journey be laced with adventure, misfits and mayhem and as determined as Kerouac in On the Road?(1) Or an awakening, a new beginning, A Song of Myself like only Whitman can recount (2). Or will they see an intersection of spiritual and physical worlds as Frost conveyed in Birches (3). Maybe they are the makers of their own stories. Realizing they are writing their own journey into the books, the art and history they have read and now experienced. Understanding themselves better in the process as suggested by Pound (4).


And as they set sail across the sea to foreign lands and walk streets they've never been and remember their homes and resources that are plentiful, maybe...they will come home and apply the experiences in their classrooms and communities. Wildflowers can hope, yes we can.



(1) Kerouc, Jack. On the Road. Sparks Notes. Web. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/ontheroad/.

   (2) Whitman, Walt. Song of Myself. Modern American Poetry. Web. http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/s_z/whitman/song.htm.

   (3) Frost, Robert Lee. Birches. Poetry Foundation, 2015. Web. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/robert-frost.

  (4) Pound, Ezra. Quotes. Google Books. Web. https://books.google.com/books?id=Rs-EAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA133&lpg=PA133&dq=ezra+pound+no+man+understands&source=bl&ots=eXmkziOv99&sig=FiQ2LTk8Hss0y0IxcqRztJS6XvE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CEUQ6AEwCWoVChMIw4K7_Y7GxwIVxpeICh038g8y#v=onepage&q=ezra%20pound%20no%20man%20understands&f=false