IMPERIAL – Kathia Cortez, of Imperial Valley, and her twin brother, Martin, will both be attending UC San Diego this fall as the first in their family to attend a four-year university, a dream realized because of the Chancellorâ€™s Associates Scholars program.
â€œI am really excited,â€ Kathia said. â€œUC San Diego was my top choice. Not only do I believe it’s a beautiful campus, but I know it has great academic programs including the biological sciences, my field of study.â€
Martin, who will be majoring in chemical engineering, added that he also is excited about the academic programs at UC San Diego. â€œIt is a great school,â€ he said. â€œI’m really thankful for this scholarship, and I would like to encourage other students out there to do their best in school. Hard work pays off.â€
Both Kathia and Martin, who will be transferring to UC San Diego from Imperial Valley College, were personally congratulated by Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla at a reception May 21 during which the chancellor announced the addition of Imperial Valley College to the Chancellorâ€™s Associates Scholars program.
The program, created to help make a UC San Diego education a reality for the regionâ€™s historically underserved communities, initially served students from Gompers Preparatory Academy, Lincoln High School and The Preuss School UCSD. It has since been expanded to community college transfer students from San Diego City College, Southwestern College and, most recently, Imperial Valley College. Other additions to the scholars program include students from federally recognized tribes and Reality Changers, a non-profit organization that provides inner-city youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with the resources to become first-generation college students.
Scholarship recipients must be eligible for the University of Californiaâ€™s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which covers tuition and fees for California residents whose families earn less than $80,000 a year. Students awarded the scholarship receive $10,000 per year to cover additional costs including books, transportation and living expensesâ€”essentially providing a full-ride and loan-free financial aid package.
The announcement was part of the chancellorâ€™s community outreach visit to Imperial Valley where he met with newly admitted and prospective students, as well as business and education leaders, elected officials and other community members.
Among the dayâ€™s highlights was a visit to the Imperial County Office of Education, where Khosla met with the regionâ€™s P-16 Councilâ€“â€“a preschool through higher education community collaborative that promotes a college-going culture.
â€œI am here to get a better understanding of UC San Diegoâ€™s broader community,â€ Khosla said. â€œBut, mainly, I came here to listen to you because students from this community are the students we want at UC San Diego.â€
At the event, Khosla praised the councilâ€™s vision to increase student eligibility, admittance and attendance at post-secondary institutions.
â€œIt is so great to have Chancellor Khosla join us today and visit Imperial Valley,â€ said Anne J. Mallory, Imperial County superintendent of schools. â€œIt really shows he has a genuine interest in Imperial Valley.â€
Khosla was applauded by the council for his dedication to the Chancellorâ€™s Associates Scholars program, which he established during his first year at UC San Diego.
Prior to Khoslaâ€™s meeting with the P-16 Council, he visited Imperial High where he gave the keynote address at the schoolâ€™s Higher Ed Day. The day gives admissions representatives from colleges around the Southwest the chance to encourage junior and senior students to explore opportunities at their respective universities.
In his talk, Khosla asked members of the crowd if they wanted to attend college and all students responded with a yes by raising their hands.
â€œThis room is full of bright, motivated and talented students,â€ Khosla said. â€œWe want you to go to any UC school, especially UC San Diego, which is so close to your home.â€
Following Khoslaâ€™s address, students participated in breakout sessions where they learned more about the various colleges that participated in Higher Education Day. Imperial High junior Jordan Elmore attended the UC San Diego session.
â€œThe presentation really made me want to attend UC San Diego,â€ Elmore said. â€œIt was really exciting to hear about the arts programs at the school.â€
He added, â€œIt was an honor to have Chancellor Khosla visit today. It really shows he is looking for people at this school to go to UC San Diego.â€
The day concluded with a reception with Khosla at Imperial Valley College where the schoolâ€™s students, faculty and staff were joined by representatives from the P-16 council.
â€œOur community is very appreciative of Dr. Khoslaâ€™s outreach to our regionâ€™s community colleges and, more specifically, to Imperial Valley College,â€ said Imperial Valley College President Victor Jaime. â€œHe is truly a leader in forming partnerships with our colleges. It is evident he has strong beliefs that community colleges are a link to higher education opportunities for our students.â€
Jaime added, â€œI personally appreciate the fact Khosla cared so much about giving these scholarships to our students.â€
Kathia and Martin Cortez and another first-generation Chancellorâ€™s Associates Scholar from Imperial Valley College, Jose Arturo Lizarraga, were all recognized at the event.
Khosla invited all three students to visit him at his office once they got settled on campus in the fall, and gave each an honors cord as a present. Honors cords are worn at graduation ceremonies to distinguish students who are graduating at the top of their class.
â€œWe have so much faith in you that we know you will graduate with honors, and we want you to wear this honor cord when you graduate as a Triton,â€ Khosla said.