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I’m Arturo Aguirre and thanks to community college I am graduating from UCLA next month! This summer, Heads Up America will profile current and former community college students, like me, who have benefited from a “College Promise” program, which provides a free community college education. Here’s my story to help kick off this “Summer Stories Series.”

I was born and raised in the small town of Santa Paula in Ventura County, California. My parents are working class Mexican immigrants. Raising my two sisters and me wasn’t easy. They’ve always encouraged us to pursue an education because they want a better life and opportunities for us.

During the college application process, I realized that I couldn’t afford to attend a four-year institution. That’s when I learned about the Ventura College Promise. Community college offered a more affordable and practical route.

After two years at Ventura College, I transferred to UCLA. UCLA accepts more transfer students than any other top-tier school in the country. My time at Ventura College strengthened my study skills and educational fundamentals, helping me succeed at the next level. I was also very fortunate to receive a scholarship from the Ventura Foundation that helped fund my time at UCLA.

I wanted to give back, so at UCLA I joined The Center for American Politics and Public Policy (CAPPP). Through CAPPP, I was selected for an internship at Scholarship America’s Washington, D.C. office where I supported policies to help underprivileged students access higher education.

I know I wouldn’t be graduating from UCLA next month without the Ventura College Promise. I’m grateful that so many people across the country are supporting Heads Up America to ensure students like me can achieve their potential.

Arturo Aguirre

PS: Do you have a powerful community college story? Share this image with your story and use #HeadsUpAmerica!

Summer Stories Series

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