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Chancellor Expands Educational Opportunities Available to Students in Imperial Valley

Imperial Valley

Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

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 Chancellor’s Associates Scholars program.

“I am really excited,” Kathia said. “UC 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.”

Martin, who will be majoring in chemical engineering, added that he also is excited about the academic programs at UC San Diego. “It is a great school,” he said. “I'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.”

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 Chancellor’s Associates Scholars program.

The program, created to help make a UC San Diego education a reality for the region’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 California’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 expenses—essentially providing a full-ride and loan-free financial aid package.

The announcement was part of the chancellor’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.

From left, Martin Cortez, Chancellor Khosla and Kathia Cortez

Among the day’s highlights was a visit to the Imperial County Office of Education, where Khosla met with the region’s P-16 Council––a preschool through higher education community collaborative that promotes a college-going culture.

“I am here to get a better understanding of UC San Diego’s broader community,” Khosla said. “But, mainly, I came here to listen to you because students from this community are the students we want at UC San Diego.”

At the event, Khosla praised the council’s vision to increase student eligibility, admittance and attendance at post-secondary institutions.

“It is so great to have Chancellor Khosla join us today and visit Imperial Valley,” said Anne J. Mallory, Imperial County superintendent of schools. “It really shows he has a genuine interest in Imperial Valley.”

Khosla was applauded by the council for his dedication to the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars program, which he established during his first year at UC San Diego. 

Prior to Khosla’s meeting with the P-16 Council, he visited Imperial High where he gave the keynote address at the school’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.

 “This room is full of bright, motivated and talented students,” Khosla said. “We want you to go to any UC school, especially UC San Diego, which is so close to your home.”

 Following Khosla’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.

“The presentation really made me want to attend UC San Diego,” Elmore said. “It was really exciting to hear about the arts programs at the school.”

He added, “It 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.”

The day concluded with a reception with Khosla at Imperial Valley College where the school’s students, faculty and staff were joined by representatives from the P-16 council. 

“Our community is very appreciative of Dr. Khosla’s outreach to our region’s community colleges and, more specifically, to Imperial Valley College,” said Imperial Valley College President Victor Jaime. “He 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.”

Jaime added, “I personally appreciate the fact Khosla cared so much about giving these scholarships to our students.”

Kathia and Martin Cortez and another first-generation Chancellor’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.

“We 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,” Khosla said.