Angel Ramirez had a problem. It was different than any of the other academic problems he’d faced, like graduating Hilltop High School with a 2.1 GPA or dropping out of Southwestern College when he was 18.
This problem was unique to his academic career. After he re-enrolled at Southwestern College in 2014, he was having a hard time choosing which university to transfer to. He had been accepted to six of the top schools in California: UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Riverside, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz.
Ramirez ended up choosing UC Berkeley because of the robust financial aid package they were offering and because of the eager welcome he received from the university. He began classes in fall 2017 after living in San Diego for all 23 years of his life.
“I couldn’t have done this without Southwestern College,” he said. “I give a lot of the credit to this campus for pushing me and making me challenge myself and better myself as a person and as a student.”
Ramirez is just one of many students who transfer from Southwestern College to four-year universities. While Southwestern College students’ acceptance rate to many private universities, like Point Loma Nazarene University, has increased, most transfer students still head to a California State University or University of California. Throughout the past five years, Southwestern College has sent 2,994 students to a California State University and 540 to a University of California, according to CSU and UC data.
A big part of the reason Ramirez was able to transfer was because of his involvement in the Puente Project. The Puente Project helps underrepresented students transfer to a four-year university by giving them specialized counseling and mentors and helps them create student success plans. Ramirez started his career at Berkeley as a proud product of that program and with a Puente Transfer Scholarship he received when he graduated Southwestern College.
“I want to represent Southwestern College,” he said. “A lot of us are transferring, but there can always be more. I look forward to beating the statistics and getting out of here. I want to show my family that I can do it and I want to lead by example for other students of color. I want to show them that it’s possible. There are opportunities out there if you apply yourself.”
As a student at Berkeley, Ramirez wants to use the strong academic foundation he built at Southwestern College to represent his community and to continue his success as a transfer student.
“A lot of students take this place for granted,” he said. “They should really invest time in their academics and get good grades and build that story for themselves so they can share that story once they transfer.”
What’s his advice to other Southwestern College students looking to transfer to one of the best schools in the country?
“Find that intrinsic motivation,” he said. “What are you doing this for? People want to make a good living, but that’ll only get you so far. What’s your passion? Find that and channel that through your academics. Be intentional with your time and your academics. Give all your classes 100 percent.”