Student Stories

Celebrating the Class of 2020

Alumni Stories


My name is Ronagene, and I am a second year pre-med Biology major, currently attending UCLA. Earning my spot here as a student in one of the most highly ranked public universities in the nation was not only due to my own perseverance and hard work, but also the faith and support from both people who personally knew me and generous strangers that only knew a few paragraphs about me. Coming from a relatively low-income community as a first-generation college student in a highly sought out university, allowed me to recognize the stark differences amongst the student population: it exposed the overwhelmingly unwarranted disparities of educational opportunity.


As a senior in high school, I was initially only going to apply to the state school and the UC in my city due to the accumulating prices per application; I resigned myself to the monotonous idea of living at home and commuting, as opposed to dorming, in order to further save money. But at the end of the application period, I ended up applying to ten schools total: San Diego State University, CSU Fullerton, CSU San Marcos, CSU Long Beach, UCI, UCR, UCSD, UCLA, UCSB, and UC Berkeley.


Out of the ten, four were waived by the College Board Application Waivers, and six were paid for by strangers who believed that as a competitively performing student, I deserved to have a choice in which university to attend. Having these unknown individuals, who believed in my personal strive towards success, eliminated any idea of personal self-doubt in taking risks knowing the potential loss of money when submitting applications, and instead ingrained in me the confidence of my own hard work.


Knowing that someone was willing to pay for a chance for me to open up my own opportunities, because he or she genuinely thought I was capable, continues to motivate me to this day. With the aid from those around me, including the gracious funds from people who still supported my purpose despite never meeting me, I am able to confidently say that where I come from and the community that I grew up in did shape me as a person, but it did not restrict or prevent me from expanding my opportunities and reaching my goals. 


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Hi, my name is Manuel and I was able to use the funding to cover the cost of 8 college applications: San Diego State University, Cal Poly SLO, CSU San Marcos, San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, and UC Santa Cruz.

During my college application process I remember applying to UC schools and not qualifying for their board waiver to basically provide free applications.That’s $70 each! I was totally going to give up on applying to UC schools until I heard there was funding available at my high school and I was able to use that to pay for my 4 UC applications. 

Not only did this funding give me an opportunity to apply and compete with thousands of other seniors trying to get into the same schools as me, but also lifted that financial burden that a lot of times leaves students unable to “compete” - like I would have ended up. I wouldn’t have applied if the funding didn't cover my application costs.

This funding gives students opportunities to not just make choices but to have choices, which is very important because no one should be limited due to their financial status.


I was able to apply to 8 schools and was able to decide what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. I also used the funding to waive the prices of 4 AP Exams. Colleges look for competency and students who take AP Exams have the upperhand over students who don't.

I am currently a second year at San Diego State University pursuing a Bachelor's in Information Systems.


I used the funding to cover the application costs for all 7 schools I applied to: CSULA, CSULB, CSUSM, Cal Poly SLO, UCR, UCLA, And UCSD.


I attended CSULA after high school.  The waiver also helped cover AP exam costs. Because of the help from these funds, I was able to take exams that essentially helped me get accepted into more schools. Since costs were lower, I could do more applications.  


I would probably only have been able to apply to 2 schools without this financial support. These funds expanded my opportunities for a better education.