Central Coast community college students urged to chart course to UC

UC President Janet Napolitano
UC President Janet Napolitano encouraged regional community college students to apply to UC. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)
UC Santa Cruz student Jesse Silva
Student Jesse Silva shared his journey from the military to Cabrillo College to UC Santa Cruz. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Higher education leaders told a room full of community college students that a University of California education is accessible and affordable for transfer students.

"The doors of the University of California are open. The opportunity is there," UC President Janet Napolitano said to an auditorium full of central coast students hosted at Cabrillo College. “It’s a great opportunity to attend a world-class university, right in your own region.”

Napolitano on Monday (Nov. 20) joined UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal, Cabrillo College President Laurel Jones, Hartnell College President Willard Clark Lewallen, Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey Peninsula College President Walter Tribley, and Gavilan College President Kathleen A. Rose to promote the transfer path to UC from community colleges and to answer questions about the transition.

“You have a world-class educational institution within commuting distance,” Blumenthal said.

Students learned about financial aid that can put a UC education within reach. More than half of UC’s California undergraduates pay no tuition thanks to the university’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which covers the full cost of tuition for students who are eligible for financial aid and whose families earn $80,000 a year or less.

The students also heard the personal story of one of the many students who have transferred from Cabrillo to UC Santa Cruz.

“In June 2012, I was under fire by the Taliban in Afghanistan. In June 2013, I was in the backcountry of Yosemite hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. In June 2014, I was here at Cabrillo taking English 100A,” Jesse Silva said. “In June 2018, I’ll be up at UCSC graduating with a double major in philosophy and politics.”

After making it through war, Silva said he wanted to attend the University of California because he owed it to himself—and to those who did not come back—to be successful at the best university, which he learned was the University of California.

The environment at UC Santa Cruz—the towering redwoods and striking sunsets—felt welcoming to Silva.

“There are so many good spots to just sit down and read,” Silva said. “You just pick a tree and have a seat. I love that.”

The students—from Cabrillo College, Hartnell College in Salinas, Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey and Gavilan College in Gilroy—also heard from UC Santa Cruz professor of astrophysics Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz about the educational and research opportunities available to UC students.

“Because of you the UC system will be stronger, certainly smarter, healthier, and definitely more interesting than it is today,” Ramirez-Ruiz said. “If we are to solve our nation’s problems, we have to remake science to include everyone. That is core to the UC system.”