Angela Vera, the daughter of a Mexico-born carpenter with a second-grade education, was able to thrive at UC Irvine because of the financial aid, academic support and leadership opportunities at the university.
"I always thought UC was for students up here," Vera, who will complete a double major in criminology, law and society and social ecology next year, told the LA Times. "I never saw myself as capable."
Irvine is the most popular UC campus for Latino freshmen applicants, the campus was recently designated a Hispanic Serving Institution.
Gloria Ochoa, a third-year psychology and social behavior student, was at first taken aback by rallies against immigrants and Muslims, but was amazed by the offerings at the Cross-Cultural Center and the many research opportunities on campus.
"One great thing about UCI that they don’t get a lot of recognition and credit for is that a lot of faculty do research and there are so many labs to apply to," Ochoa told the LA Times.