UC President, UCSD Chancellor unveil new full-ride scholarships during visit to Morse High

Posted: Thursday, April 25th 2019


For the more than 500 students packed into the Morse High School gym, it was an invigorating day. Leaders from the University of California system had come to their campus in Southeast San Diego to engage students directly and help demystify the college admissions process. Unbeknownst to the Morse students, they were also moments away from a new development that would benefit the school in a big way.

UC President Janet Napolitano and UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla were there to announce a new opportunity that would allow Morse students to attend college free of charge. The prestigious Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship, already available to students at Lincoln and Hoover High Schools, had now been extended to Morse as well.

Even more exciting was the news that followed: all of the Morse seniors who had already gained admittance to UC San Diego this year would now be going to college completely tuition-free.

Napolitano, the Truman Scholar who went on to serve as Governor of Arizona and Secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama Administration before taking the helm at UC, clarified what this meant to the students in front of her. “This will cover not just tuition but your room, your board. That’s right - you will go loan-free to the University of California. That’s a smoking deal!"

The big announcement was all part of Achieve UC, a multiyear effort to encourage students in communities with low college-going rates to aim for a high-quality college education. Eighty-five percent of Morse’s students comprise a minority ethnic or racial group, and 78 percent come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. A significant portion will be the first in their families to attend college.

More than 57 percent of all UC resident undergraduates pay no tuition based on their family’s income, and more than 40 percent are first-generation college students. Beginning with the graduating class of 2016, San Diego Unified began requiring students to complete A-G coursework to graduate. This A-G coursework sequence is required for admission to the UC and CSU systems.

“We have an unbelievable partnership between San Diego Unified and UCSD,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “We know that with a powerful education, our students can make a significant difference in the world. The Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship makes that powerful education attainable for more of our students.”

Founded in 2013, the scholarship program provides local, admitted, high-achieving students from underserved families the opportunity to attend UCSD tuition and debt-free. In the audience during the announcement was Morse senior Yasir Amir Althalmi, a recent recipient of the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship Program. He, like many fellow scholarship recipients, will be the first in his family to go to college.

This big announcement was followed by breakout sessions explaining the UC financial aid process, career exploration options, and an intimate panel discussion with President Napolitano, Chancellor Khosla, and Superintendent Marten.

“There is a universe of opportunities out there,” President Napolitano told the students. “We've had many outstanding Morse graduates come to UC already, and we want more of you!

The panel discussion also included Morse High School alumni who currently attend UCSD. The alumni shared their stories about student life at UCSD, the challenges of college life, and the self-growth as they navigate their way through uncharted territory. Morse seniors had an opportunity to ask the panel questions related to admissions, financial aid and student life on a UC campus.

One of the Morse alumni on hand was Caroline Siegel-Singh, a current third-year student at UCSD who was instrumental in setting up the day’s events. Superintendent Marten also recognized Caroline for her leadership in bringing the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship to Morse. A terrific role model for the next generation of Morse students, Caroline currently serves as President of the statewide UC Student Association (UCSA) and Vice President of External Affairs for the Associated Students of UCSD. She has also been selected as a national Public Policy & International Affairs Fellow and will be studying at the Ford School of Public Policy in the summer.

Caroline summed up the significance of the connection between her current and former schools. “Any student at Morse High School has a promise that if they work hard and are admitted to UCSD, they won’t have to worry about paying for it.”

Answering a student’s question, Chancellor Khosla reiterated the message.

“When it comes to college, the last thing you should think about is the cost. When you come to UC San Diego, I can guarantee you most of you will qualify for a financial aid package, loan free,” he told the students. “Right now you should be thinking, 'Work hard, work hard, work hard.' That's it!"

 

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