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May 21, 2022

UCSC Chancellor rallies WHS students

WATSONVILLE—UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia K. Larive made her first visit to Watsonville High School Monday as part of an annual Achieve UC outreach effort. In the Mello Center, she addressed hundreds of students to deliver the message that an education at a University of California is attainable.

“I hope today these students gain the knowledge and develop a commitment to join the university,” Larive said. “We need them to advance in our region and to know that they all have a great future ahead of them. As a first-generation college student, I experienced firsthand the capacity of higher education institutions – and that of UC in particular – to level the playing field for all students, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, and to positively transform their lives and their futures.”

Sophomore Azusena Castillo said she was inspired by the chancellor’s speech.

“She really made me feel excited about going to the university,” she said. “I’ve thought about it a lot and now I really want to go. I can’t wait. This was really good for me to hear this today.”

The two-and-a-half-hour presentation was a blended effort of the UC Santa Cruz Educational Partnership Center, the Early Academic Outreach Program, WHS and the Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD). The event featured a welcome reception, assembly and college fair. College representatives were on hand to talk to students about applying to college, the availability of scholarships and financial aid.

“We believe at Pajaro Valley Unified School District that all students should graduate from our schools prepared for college or career,” PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez said. “We are making significant progress toward that goal. Achieve UC is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about the University of California system.”

The University of California has one of the most comprehensive financial aid programs in the nation, organizers said, with 58 percent of students in the state receiving enough aid to completely cover their tuition and fees, and 75 percent paying less than the standard sticker price.

Students often are unaware of the range of resources available to make college affordable for all. UC’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, for instance, covers the full cost of tuition for students whose families earn $80,000 a year or less. More than half of UC undergraduates who are California residents pay no tuition thanks to the Blue and Gold Plan and other grants and scholarships.

About 500 students who went to the assembly Monday were handed a brochure with this message printed on the cover: “2 out of 3 California students who applied to UC last year got in.”

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