Monthly Archives: May 2015

Chancellor’s Graduate Intern, Arnold Sanchez, on UCSC’s Hispanic Serving Initiative

I was motivated to write this entry for the Plenary hoping that my experience with the Chancellors Graduate Internship (CGI) will motivate other education PhD students to apply for the upcoming cycle. Since my conversation with Ethan Chang there have been a number of developments on the UC Santa Cruz Hispanic Serving Institution front. In writing this piece I was hoping to reflect on my experiences while acknowledging the positive contributions that others have made towards my development as a graduate student.


The shifts in state demographics have resulted in a number of changes to the K-12 public schools as well as colleges and universities. Institutions of higher education are challenged by the opportunity of serving the needs of all students and to ensure that their students are prepared for life following their undergraduate studies. The federal government is addressing the impact of demographic shifts on higher education institutions through a federal grant program amended to the Higher Education Act of 1965. The U.S. Department of Education awards grants to universities that meet specific guidelines, including an enrollment of at least 25 percent Hispanic undergraduate students, as well as having at least 50 percent of those students coming from low-income backgrounds. UCSC is in the process of joining that list of federally designated Hispanic Serving Institutions.


As I reflect on my CGI experience, I can’t help but to think of the challenges, triumphs, and opportunities that I encountered with the project. In 2012, prior to my arrival at UCSC, a committee of faculty, staff and students was formed by UCSC administration to pursue the Hispanic Serving Institution designation. The designation was in part driven by the shifting demographics of the UCSC student body. At that time, the HSI committee did not have plans to apply for a Title V grant because the institutional research necessary to apply had not been conducted. My initial work helped provide the evidence to help substantiate the logic for why UCSC was prepared to apply for a Title V grant. This was the beginning of what would prove to be one of the most enriching experiences I have had as a graduate student. My work entailed a collaborative relationship between EOP, the institutional research assessment & policy team, the HSI committee, Dr. Mosqueda (my adviser), and UCSC’s data warehouse.


Serving as a data liaison to establish statistical evidence to substantiate the HSI Grant application through institutional trend analysis was easier said then done as a variety of circumstances delayed my contributions. Data accessibility proved to be a major hurdle. The nature of my work involved access to student data that is protected for the safety of our students. To gain access to the data I needed to get clearance (FERPA training) and a variety of logistics needed to be addressed before I could acquire access. Shortly after having data access I encountered the difficulty of retrieving data. Writing reports to extract data was so complex that my first attempt at retrieving data caused the data retrieval system to crash campus wide.


As I was simultaneously familiarizing myself with the data infrastructure, the HSI committee was counting on me to provide the data trends to support the grant application. It was a tall order, and my biggest concern was the danger of misrepresenting the trends or not meeting the needs of the committee to proceed with the project. Luckily this is when a close collaborative relationship between the principal data analysts at data warehouse and myself emerged. Without this guidance I would have had major difficulties understanding the landscape of our data storage and retrieval systems on campus. I learned a great deal about data codes, data controllability, data compatibility, etc. I often found myself in a situation where the need for information was pivotal for the committee to identify the intentions of the grant and the points of intervention. Without this information the team was unable to proceed.

The pressure was real. There were moments when I felt that the fate of the project was in part based on whether or not I would be able to pull through with my work. However, I was not ready to give up on the HSI committee or our collaborators. The systemic change that could potentially arise from receiving a Title V grant motivated me to push forward, to learn quickly, and to produce accurate data trends to help UCSC identify specific areas where the university was encountering difficulties supporting students in pursuing their educational goals.


Despite the challenges of my work, I feel that it is important to acknowledge the triumphs and opportunities that emerged from this internship. First, the data analytics of the project prompted the data warehouse personnel to construct new data-points that would assist with future institutional assessments. For example part of my work involved identifying the time to degree completion for students since their first point of entry to UCSC. A data point coding for time to degree completion did not exist prior to our work and this type of information needed to be derived through other methods and composite scores. Now data warehouse has started coding for time to degree completion and will make such data available, along with a variety of new variables accessible for future institutional assessments.

Second, I had the opportunity to work with a phenomenal group of individuals, including Pablo Reguerín who currently serves as the Executive Director for Retention Services and Director of Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP). Pablo served as the co-chair to the UCSC HSI Team, and I was humbled by his diligence and commitment to this work. He has been a true inspiration for me and provided guidance to help identify the types of issues I hope to research for my dissertation. Taken together, Pablo’s expertise as a practitioner exposed me to the nature of his work, which calls for immediate, and long-term substantive changes geared towards promoting and sustaining equity through comprehensive school reform and retention/student success.


Currently, there is no UC campus on the list of over 240 colleges and universities across the country awarded the Title V Part A grant, a Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions Program. If UCSC is awarded the grant the points of intervention that were identified by my collaborative work with EOP, the institutional research assessment & policy team, the HSI committee, Dr. Mosqueda, and data warehouse could bring meaningful pedagogical reform to the Math and Writing gateway courses on our campus. Receiving a title V grant would mean the beginning of substantive educational reform at UCSC. Furthermore if UCSC receives the Title V grant the need to conduct formative evaluations will be necessary, and I hope to be involved in this process if and when the time comes. Above all this internship opened new opportunities. I have made career-changing decisions and am now convinced that my research as a graduate student will focus on the experiences of students at both the high school and University level. In the mean time, Pablo-Reguerín has generously offered to keep me on his team post-CGI to help him and his staff inform data driven and evidence based campus interventions as well as potential future grant applications. I am certain that this opportunity will present itself with a new set of problems that will challenge me to expand my methodological toolkit and problem solving skills.

I urge the graduate students in our department to apply for the CGI. If I can be of service to anyone interested in applying please do not hesitate to contact me.

Deadline to apply for 2015-16 Chancellor’s Graduate Internship (CGI) Program: June 1, 2015

This post was submitted by America Vega, an undergraduate student at UCSC minoring in Education. 

Warning: Words in this post may be offensive to some readers.

I recently had the opportunity to observe an English Learning Development class at a typical suburban high school. My experience there solidified my understanding of the systematic racial and class disparities in our education system. I use this space to discuss some of my observations and to share a poem I felt compelled to write.

Entering the classroom, I immediately noticed its playfulness. Students laughed and told jokes from across the room and much of the humor passed by the teacher unnoticed. “Vale Verga” is a common expression used. Translated directly it means “It’s worth nothing.” Similar translations include “it’s worthless,” or simply “it’s not worth it”. The students use this phrase often when talking about attendance to Saturday school, declaring it’s “worth-nothing.” Vale Verga.

One particular incident really stuck with me. There was a student who the ELD teacher had a hard time controlling.  The teacher offered me a large desk (larger than the seats most of the students sat in), out of courtesy, the same desk unfortunately where this student was seated. She refused to give her seat up. She sat at her desk, arms crossed, rolling her eyes. After a few warnings, the teacher asked her to leave the classroom because of her “lack of respect.” But the student refused to move. It went on like this for a few minutes, the teacher asking her to leave, the student firmly seated in the desk. Another student, a boy of about 17 years old, began repeating “vete…vale verga.” “Just leave” he said to her, “it’s not worth it”. After he repeated this phrase several times, she eventually listened to him and left the classroom.

So what exactly is “not worth it” in their eyes? Was it the desk she was so adamant about keeping? Was it being kicked out of the classroom for one day that wasn’t worth the fight over? Or, were the students noticing a deeper issue? Was he highlighting his attitude toward the program and the education he was receiving? Why is Saturday school, giving up a desk, and being in class vale verga. What makes these students proclaim that it’s all “worthless?”

Many of these students are often barred access to four year institutions because of the difficulty they experience in passing the High School Exit Exam. The California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) requirement at the state level acts as a systematic “gatekeeper” to college for English Learning youth. National policies such as “Race to the Top” and “No Child Left Behind” ultimately serve to stratify society by privileging standardized test results. Students who attend schools with little economic resources are more commonly students with low socioeconomic status, who also happen to be disproportionately students of minority ethnicities. Standardized testing brushes over these disadvantages by establishing a criteria for success that does not attend to the diverse assets and knowledges students from diverse backgrounds possess. With a college education being the rule of thumb indicator for future economic stability, “Race to the Top” bares more resemblances to a rigged, rather than equitable race.

Unfortunately, students in ELD classes experience this lack of access daily. There are many forms of “borders” and barriers immigrant students face in their daily lives, and throughout my time in the high school classroom, this became a harsh reality. Education reformer Mike Rose often writes about the psychological isolation felt by those who are in the lower strata of our society. Speaking of the the historically marginalized, Rose comments, they are “strangers in our midst.” They are present but are unseen. Kind of like being “worth nothing.” Vale Verga.

Though the task of changing whole systems of inequality rooted in history and consciousness may seem daunting, on the teacher-student level, where the environment is safe, it is my conviction that things can change. “Good” teachers, writes education reformer Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot, have a “currency” of ideas. These are “conveyed through relationships,” a “dialogue” she later writes, “between the audience and the teacher” Where we find hope is with this space the classroom offers. Critical writers and champions of educational reform seem to have in common a desire to lessen this widening gap between us and them. To bring the humanity back to education.  Future educators should understand that learning, real life-changing learning, reality-redefining learning, learning as path to healing, can happen in the classroom. It can be achieved when we focus on relationships and understanding of the other. “When it suddenly seems possible to extend your reach” writes Rose, “that’s the fundamental experience of opportunity, and it can be liberating”.

The mother tongue touches the tender spots

Of her child as she sends her to school.

To learn English

A Romance Language

For dreamers in love with a dream

La lengua de las fronteras

She speaks with body more than lips.

Arms crossed sitting still

To act out is an invitation to look in

She remembers the words of her mother

Te extrano

And hears the words of the others

Que extrano.

How strange, is this estranged stranger

Alien to some

Beloved by few

This isolation that is nothing new

The mother tongue sits head down and voiceless

tries to speak

washed out by the noises

“no entendemos”

The students protesting

“I don’t understand”

The teacher confessing.

It’s not worth it

That’s what they say

As the sun burns shallow into the day

She’ll learn the roads

The maps of this nation

The phrases copied

The scripted formation.

And she’ll recite them again and again

The words on the page written in pen

Thrust in this race race

Quite late in the game

this race race to the top so much in vain

But will she get there?

when will it stop

can she ever really be on top?

As the push to memorize mesmerizes.

And should she grow in grammar

Grow in speech

What is it really that we teach?

To keep her mother tongue at bay?

That merit is measured in only one way?

As she works to find some form clarity

Feels despair

The Symptom of disparity

But let us come, come to the realization

that memorization is not memory

Let us connect our head and our heart

Rip the borders apart

And mend this gap between us and them

Isn’t that where all problems stem?

We paint with color

Red brown black and blue

Collaborating colors, making one with the two