Graduating seniors from across Los Angeles were feeling the buzz of excitement for College Signing Day last week! More than a dozen YPI students joined Former First Lady Michelle Obama and their LAUSD peers at UCLA on May 1 for the official College Signing Day event in Los Angeles—one of 2,500 event held nationwide to celebrate college-bound high school seniors as part of the Reach Higher Initiative.
“I am so proud of each and every student out there who’s celebrating College Signing Day and committing to continue their education,” said Former First Lady Michelle Obama. “And I know how many hurdles each of you had to clear to make it to today.”
This truly is a special time for these high school seniors who are the first in their families to attend college. They overcame many challenges, worked hard and got accepted to one of the top universities in California!
These future leaders have big dreams and they plan on making their college education count.
Meet some of our students whose journeys to higher education are just beginning! View more photos from College Signing Day across YPI!
“Our names are Isabela and Santa Pastor. We come from a low-income immigrant family of five. Our dad works as a garment worker while our mom is a stay-at-home mom. As twins, we have always had to share everything. Now we are looking forward to being the firsts in our family to attend college. While our financial situation has been difficult and stressful for our family, we are excited to attend UC San Diego. Although our parents have told us to pursue careers after undergraduate, we want to pursue a graduate school education in order to get into the medical field. In the end we hope to be role models for our 2-year old sister and inspire other Latinas to follow their dreams.”
“My name is Alan Martinez and I am an undocumented student. I live in a low-income community where I have faced many institutional barriers such as poverty, drugs and gang violence. I am pursing a biology major at UCLA with the hopes of one day becoming a surgeon – because I have seen firsthand the lack of quality healthcare in my community. My long-term goal is to return to my community and build more hospitals and clinics for those who need access to affordable healthcare. In addition, as a first-generation student of color, college will be a new experience for me and my family, but it will ultimately provide me with the necessary tools and education to thrive and provide my family with financial mobility.”
“My name is Oswaldo Tzul and I was born in Los Angeles, in the Westlake area around MacArthur Park. I’ve been raised by a single mother, who works hard to provide for me and my two little brothers. I have faced many hardships. The most challenging has been facing the juvenile justice system during my freshmen year. Fortunately, I was able to beat the system and focus on my academics. Throughout my high school career, I have been part of Students Run LA, YPI’s Pathways to Justice Careers, and the College Peer Leaders Program. This fall, I will be attending UC Irvine. I am planning to double major in biology and business. As the first person in my family to attend college, my goal is to be a role model for my siblings and a provider for my family.”
“My name is Ashley Herrarte I am currently a senior attending Miguel Contreras Learning Complex (Business and Tourism). I grew up in Echo Park and moved to South Central when I started high school. I am a hardworking and dedicated student whose goal is to succeed in life. I got accepted to UC Irvine and will be majoring in criminology with a minor in business. I plan to become a police detective and impact the communities I have grown up in. Overall, I want to have a career that I will enjoy and that will help bring an income for myself and my family.”
“My name is Loyda Lopez and I am currently a senior at Academic Leadership Community located within the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex. I play volleyball, soccer and run track. I enjoy Math and hate English, but I like to read. I want to go to college because having immigrant parents and being a low-income class student of color motivates me to pursue a higher education. While it hasn’t been easy for me to get to where I am today, I am looking forward to attending UC Davis this fall.”