Growing up, Astrid Solorzano considered herself an average student, never thinking she would go to college. As a first-generation Mexican-American and the daughter of a single mother, the statistics were not in her favor. “How would I defy the odds?” she asked herself. The answer, it turned out, was The Preuss School UCSD.
In the sixth grade, Solorzano began attending Preuss – a charter middle and high school on the UC San Diego campus for low-income students who strive to become the first in their families to graduate from college. The teachers there saw something in her, she said, encouraging her to believe in herself.
“They looked past the obstacles to success and saw me for who I truly was and who I could be,” she said. “They lifted me up as they had lifted up hundreds of other students, changing our lives and the lives of our families.”
Solorzano graduated from Preuss in 2007 and went on to earn her undergraduate degree in global studies from UC Santa Barbara and a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Southern California. She is now a reporter with NBC 7 San Diego, a career she chose, in part, because she wanted other young Latinos to see themselves represented in the mainstream news industry.
“I want them to know that they can defy the statistics, too,” she said. “They can put aside the cards life has dealt them and take new ones. They can build a future they can be proud of.”
Solorzano will share her story during Preuss’s annual benefit, The Preuss Promise: Excellence by Design, on Friday, April 28. The festivities will begin at 6 p.m. at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa.
The event starts with a cocktail hour featuring science demonstrations and a fine arts exhibit by Preuss students. Guests will then enjoy an elegant dinner with live music.
UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla will speak during the event, which will also highlight The Preuss School’s Campaign for Longer Learning Time. Expanded learning time is a fundamental tenet of the Preuss educational model, enabling the school to create a rigorous academic environment with the support students need to succeed. Preuss students are in school longer each day and for 18 more days a year than the typical student in California, which adds up to almost an entire extra academic year over the course of their middle and high school careers.
“Our model of success is proven,” said Scott Barton, principal of The Preuss School UCSD. “With continued support we can connect promise with possibility for students from throughout San Diego for generations to come.”
Peter J. Preuss is chairing the Event Committee while Peggy and Peter G. Preuss are co-chairing the Honorary Committee. Sponsors include Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa, Lockton Insurance, Union Bank and Flowerchild as well as individuals including Charles Bergan and Lisa Kanetake, Darcy and Robert Bingham, Malin and Roberta Burnham, Susan and Bill Hoehn, Eric and Benedicte Otterson, Bob and Sheryl Scarano and the Socol Family.
The Preuss School is chartered by the San Diego Unified School District and operated by UC San Diego. More than 800 students come from throughout San Diego County to participate in a single-track college preparatory curriculum and take advantage of an array of academic supports including tutoring, mentoring and counseling.