University of California President Janet Napolitano met with a few hundred students at Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley on Friday, Nov. 2 to explain how a college education is within their reach.
UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox joined her for a morning rally at the school gymnasium, where they discussed the lifelong benefits of a UC education and informed them of financial aid that is readily available.
Napolitano noted that between now and the end of November, many high school seniors will complete their college applications. She encouraged them to consider one of the 10 University of California campuses.
“UC is a place that offers lots of different programs and opportunities,” she said. “It’s a place you can find your passion, follow your passion and achieve your dreams. That’s what college is about.”
More than half of UC’s California undergraduates pay no tuition thanks to UC’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan for families whose annual income is below $80,000, Napolitano said.
The UC system also works with students to identify other scholarships and grants that will help defray the cost of housing, food, and books, she said.
Napolitano said students who are the first in their family to go to college will find that they are not alone. Forty-two percent of UC students are first generation, and 58 percent of UCR undergraduates.
As part of the FirstGen campaign, UC offers programs including academic advising and support from about 1,000 faculty who are also the first in their family to go to college, Napolitano said.
Wilcox said students will find a support system as they decide on pursuing college.
“There’s a whole bunch of people here to help,” Wilcox said. “That’s why we’re here today: to let you know we’re with you. We want to get you excited about coming to the University of California and we want you to understand it’s very achievable.”
Both also discussed how students who choose to go to community college can easily transfer to a University of California campus and obtain their degree in four years.
Brenda Romero, a freshman at UC Riverside who was among the speakers, told the students that only a year ago she was in their shoes as a senior at Rancho Verde High School contemplating her future.
She said the idea of going to college can be overwhelming but the sacrifices and work they put in will be worth it.
“I have found my passion and myself and my purpose through this incredible journey,” Romero said.
Napolitano’s visit to Rancho Verde High School is part of Achieve UC, an ongoing effort to encourage students in communities with low college-going rates to attain a high-quality college education.