More than 100 Crenshaw High School students and parents had the opportunity to hear from UCLA admissions and financial aid officials and to get personal advice on achieving their college dreams at a special Oct. 22 assembly and resource fair at the South Los Angeles campus.
The event was part of Achieve UC, a University of California system-wide initiative designed to inspire students from historically underserved high schools to aim for and apply to college and to equip them with the information and resources they need to get there.
"No matter your race, no matter where you come from, no matter how much money you have, college is for you," Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA's associate vice chancellor for enrollment management, told the crowd in her keynote speech.
Copeland-Morgan, herself a Crenshaw High graduate and first-generation college student, challenged the students to dream big and envision themselves as college graduates. But she reminded them that it will require hard work.
"I'm not going to candy-coat it for you," she said. "At UCLA, our expectations are high — very high. But the hard work and effort you are putting into school right now will pay off, because a college education is the surest pathway to opportunity and to full participation in the American Dream."
Since its launch on Oct. 18, Achieve UC has brought chancellors and senior leadership from every UC campus and the UC Office of the President to high schools across the state, reaching more than 10,000 students. The effort gives students the chance to meet directly with UC advisers who can help explain application requirements, assess students' preparedness for college and reassure them that there is a spot in the UC system for any qualified student who wishes to attend.
UCLA Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Janina Montero and UCLA Director of the UCLA Financial Aid Office Ronald Johnson were also on hand at the event to offer advice and encouragement.
Johnson reassured students that his job is to assist families in every way possible so that finances do not become a barrier to college, particularly for low- and middle-income students. In addition to Cal Grants and federal Pell Grants, Johnson said, the University of California has a program called the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which guarantees that students won't have to pay a penny of tuition if they qualify for financial aid and their family income falls below $80,000 a year.
Following the UCLA speakers, the students and parents had an opportunity to ask the officials questions on a variety of topics, ranging from the depth and breath of majors offered at UCLA to the number of student clubs on campus.
The event also featured a college resource fair that brought representatives from UCLA, UC Santa Cruz and several academic preparation programs.