A UC Education Within Reach

“Keep this in mind young people, education is the passport to the future. Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare today,” Dr. Thomas Parham, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at UCI, told a gym full of almost 1,000 students at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera earlier this month.

This was the motivational tone set for one of the largest Achieve UC events held throughout the state this fall. Achieve UC is a system-wide effort in which each of the 10 UC campus chooses a local partnership high school to visit for one day. UCI selected El Rancho High School out of 23 local high schools.

“We already have great programs in place here at El Rancho but today we brought our UC leaders, Chancellors, Vice Chancellors, and Program Support Staff to highlight the value and the attainability of a UC education for students,” said Dr. Stephanie Reyes-Tuccio, Director of the Center for Educational Partnerships at UCI.

In addition to grants and scholarships, all California resident students who qualify for financial aid and whose families make $80K a year or less, can apply for UC’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan. If they qualify, they pay no tuition.

Dr. Parham reminded students that more than half of the El Rancho High School students who applied to UC’s last year, were accepted. “We want you to dream. We get lots of students from El Rancho High School but we want more,” he said.

In addition to hearing from UC senior leaders, students attended practical support workshops on UC applications and personal statements. Others attended a workshop on Transfer Pathways, which streamlines the path for California community college transfer students to UC schools.

Cecilia Leyva, Regional Coordinator for the Early Academic Outreach Program, EAOP at UCI, played a key role in the day’s events. She works with students at El Rancho High School through the support of Generation 1st Degree – Pico Rivera. EAOP aims to academically prepare students to go to college by offering academic enrichment programs, academic advising, test prep, and parent engagement workshops.

Once an EAOP student herself, Leyva understands the magnitude of this day for her students, many of whom come from low-income backgrounds or are first generation students. “I’m very passionate about the work that we do with our community. It’s important to have mentors that advocate and find resources for our students. Having Achieve UC here today is important because we are exposing the entire campus to these great opportunities. I can’t think of anything better than that,” she said.