Helping Hands - Tony Jiménez Morfín

Photo: R. R. Jones

Tony Jiménez Morfín

"Taking UCSC Home"

During his freshman year, Tony Jiménez didn't see a single person on campus from his multi ethnic San Diego neighborhood. Now a senior, Jiménez often runs into people from southeast San Diego--studying at UCSC's McHenry Library, waiting for a campus shuttle bus, or just walking downtown. Many of them tell Jiménez he's one of the reasons they came to Santa Cruz. Some even ask him for a ride to the airport when they want to visit home.

The free taxi service is one of the incentives Jiménez offered when he talked to their high school classes about attending UCSC. A participant in the campus's "Taking UCSC Home" program, the sociology major at UCSC's Oakes College started visiting schools when he was a freshman. The program sends student ambassadors to their former high schools to discuss the value of higher education.

After speaking at Point Loma High School that first year, Jiménez decided to extend his reach into communities with even higher concentrations of minority students. He has subsequently visited schools in San Diego's inner city and in East Los Angeles.

Jiménez estimates he's spoken to some 1,000 students, from grammar to continuation schools. He describes college life and tells the students he'll support them if they come to UCSC. Mostly, he relays a simple but powerful message: If he can go to college, they can too.

"They see the university almost like an ivory tower," Jiménez says. "When they meet me, they see that there are people at college that they can relate to--people just like them."

--Francine Tyler

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