Yasmin Delahoussaye, an alumna of the UCLA School of Education & Information Studies and a transformative champion of educational access and equity, has been honored with UCLA’s Fiat Lux Award.

Over her career, Delahoussaye has been a teacher, counselor and top-level administrator at public K–12 schools and community colleges throughout Southern California and a dedicated advocate of educational leadership training at UCLA. As the co-founder and project director of the nonprofit Educating Students Together, she has helped thousands of economically disadvantaged students realize their dreams of a college education.

In recognition of her visionary leadership and distinguished service, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block presented Delahoussaye with the award — one of the highest honors the university bestows — at a ceremony at the Chancellor’s Residence on Jan. 13.

“Yasmin is a standout example of a UCLA alum who has dedicated her life to service. Her leadership of the nonprofit Educating Students Together and wide-ranging work on behalf of our university, city, county and state has broken down barriers for historically underrepresented students and increased access to higher education,” Block said. And while she has impacted many learners herself, she has also catalyzed support for many, many more — making her impact exponentially greater … She embodies the spirit of our university and exemplifies UCLA’s commitment to the common good.”

Delahoussaye spent 14 years as a middle-school teacher and counselor in the Los Angeles Unified School District before moving into higher education, serving over several decades as a counselor, vice president and vice chancellor in the in the Los Angeles Community College District and eventually becoming president of Los Angeles Southwest College.

In 2002, in the midst of her work in higher education, Delahoussaye earned her doctorate in educational leadership from the UCLA School of Education & Information Studies and that same year launched Educating Students Together with her husband, Gregory Delahoussaye. Dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and improving the lives of youth from the foster care system and low-income communities by helping them access and complete a four-year-college education, the program offers free college preparation, scholarship assistance, in-college support and post-graduation guidance.

To date, Delahoussaye and EST have worked with more than 5,100 program participants, supporting roughly 350 high school and college students each year and raising some $2.1 million in institutional scholarships and $100,000 in private scholarships annually for students to attend historically Black colleges and universities and other institutions of higher learning across the country.

A UCLA student who received support from Educating Students Together thanks the program and donors for helping her to realize her dream of attending university.

“Yasmin Delahoussaye has made an indelible impact — her efforts to increase access to, and persistence in, educational spaces have ensured representation of diverse students in a wide variety of contexts,” said Christina Christie, the Wasserman Dean of the UCLA School of Education & Information Studies. “Her service to UCLA and to the broader community, her steadfast engagement with underserved students and commitment to including diverse voices in the future of education, and her unwavering optimism make it clear that she embodies the principles of the UCLA Fiat Lux Award.”

A committed supporter of her alma mater, Delahoussaye co-created the alumni advisory board for the education school’s Educational Leadership Program, which since 2015 has raised nearly $800,000 in need-based scholarships for future superintendents, principals, community college presidents and other educational leaders. Under Delahoussaye’s leadership, the board also has provided an array of mentoring programs for students and alumni and hosted events to expand corporate funding. 

“She understands the need for more leaders of color, as well as the challenge of ensuring a program like the ELP is accessible to all,” said the program’s director, Lynn Kim-John. “Her goal for scholarship fundraising is to diversify ELP’s students with the vision of making each cohort more diverse than the preceding one, which I believe is coming to fruition.”

Left to right: Chancellor Gene Block; Yasmin Delahoussaye; Linda Rose, former director of the UCLA Educational Leadership Program; Lynn John-Kim; and Christina Christie.
Don Liebig/UCLA
Left to right: Chancellor Gene Block; Yasmin Delahoussaye; Linda Rose, former director of the UCLA Educational Leadership Program; Lynn John-Kim current director or the UCLA Educational Leadership Program; and Christina Christie, the Wasserman Dean of the UCLA School of Education & Information Studies at the ceremony honoring Delahoussaye.

In 2006, Delahoussaye was appointed to the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission by Mayor Antonio Villaraigoisa and the following year was named to the California Student Aid Commission by Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneegger. She was selected by the California Community Colleges board of governors in 2010 to serve on the Student Success Taskforce, charged with making recommendations to state policymakers on improving student success and completion rates — their proposals were ultimately adopted by the California Legislature.

Among her many honors, Delahoussaye has received the John W. Rice Diversity Award from the from the California Community Colleges for steering an underperforming high school to success and creating pathways to higher education for low-income Latino students; an outstanding community service award from the National Council of Negro Women; and the Keeping the Beat Award from the California Community College League for leadership during tough fiscal times.

She is the seventh recipient of the Fiat Lux Award, following Renee and Meyer Luskin, Arline and Henry Gluck, Jane Semel, Laurie and Steven C. Gordon, Ronald A. Katz and Tony Pritzker.

“Looking at the list of past honorees,” Delahoussaye said, “I noticed their immense dedication to educational access and equity. Their work is truly inspiring and has motivated me to work even harder for the vulnerable populations that my nonprofit serves. I am grateful to be a UCLA Fiat Lux awardee and to join the esteemed group of past honorees who have made a significant impact in their communities by creating compelling solutions that have changed lives.