Deer Valley High School

November 1, 2016

President Janet Napolitano gave the keynote address at the Deer Valley High School on November 1, 2016. Here are her remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning, Wolverines!
Thank you for that warm welcome! And thank you, Principal Gardner, for hosting us here at Deer Valley High School.
I’m thrilled to have the chance to speak to all of you today. In the last three years, I have visited high schools all over California—as far north as Arcata, and as far south as Santa Ana—to talk to students just like you about the opportunities waiting for them at the University of California.
And this group—all of you Wolverines—is the largest group of high school students that I have ever spoken to. Give yourselves a hand!
Now, this is no ordinary high school visit for us. Today marks the beginning of what we at UC are calling “Opportunity Month.” As of this morning, November 1st, you can start submitting your applications to the University of California. November 30this the final deadline. That’s just four weeks away.
My UC colleagues and I are spending those weeks visiting schools and communities throughout the state to deliver an important message:
The University of California represents boundless opportunities for young Californians—primarily, the opportunity to pursue an exceptional, affordable college education. We believe that every one of you deserves a phenomenal education, and we are determined to do everything we can to make sure you receive one. The students we enroll at the University of California are not merely numbers. Each and every single UC student represents an incredible opportunity, for all of California.
My visit to Deer Valley today is exciting for me for another reason. You see, you are all part of a larger, enduring story—the story of the State of California.
You may not know this, but the City of Antioch is one of the oldest cities in the entire state. In its early days, Antioch was a coal mining and agricultural community and later became a manufacturing hub.
But just as Antioch has grown from a mining, farming, and manufacturing center to a diverse and expanding city, so, too, has the state of California evolved over the years. Its demographics have changed. The industries that drive our economy have changed. The way we work, study, research, and communicate—those have also changed.
But despite all the changes we see around us, one thing in California has remained the same for generations. And that is the promise of public higher education opportunities for all young Californians.
Almost 150 years ago, around the time the City of Antioch was incorporated, early California leaders broke ground on a university—the University of California—that would serve the people of this state.
Less than 100 years later, California became the first state in the Union to guarantee universal public higher education for its young people.
Through the creation of the Master Plan, our state’s higher education leaders, together with the state Legislature and the Governor, made a commitment to Californians that any resident who worked hard, and who met the academic requirements, would have the opportunity to pursue an education at a California Community College, a California State University campus, or a University of California campus.
Today, I am here to tell you that that commitment stands strong. Last fall, we at UC announced our plans to enroll 10,000 more California resident undergraduates—5,000 more students this fall, and 2,500 more in each of the following two years—and we are on track to exceed that goal.
The class that entered UC this fall will likely be the most diverse one in the University’s history, with more than 37 percent of California freshman students, and 34 percent of California transfer students, hailing from underrepresented minority groups.
This enrollment expansion was an aggressive and audacious goal. It underscores our commitment to students like you and our commitment to preserving opportunities for all qualified Californians who seek a place at the University of California.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “how do I do it? How do I get in to the University of California?”
Earning a spot at UC isn’t easy. But it is doable. At the University, our end of the bargain is to make sure that we keep the doors of opportunity wide open to all qualified California students. And we are doing all we can to keep those doors wide open. Every day, we work tremendously hard to address any academic or infrastructure challenges the University faces so that all UC students—and all prospective UC students—are on track to receive the high-quality educations they deserve.
But what about your end of the bargain as students?
Well, that’s pretty straight-forward.
You need to complete the 15 UC-required courses, which your teachers and counselors can help you plan.
You need to maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 in those classes.
And you need to take the SAT or the ACT exam.
If you can do those three things, then you are on the path to a college degree from the University of California.
Of course, we encourage you to focus on more than academics. For me, that meant playing the clarinet in the school band and serving in student government at my high school in New Mexico. For you, it might mean pursuing your passion for art, playing sports, or volunteering in your community.
Whatever extra-curricular activities you pursue, keep in mind that students who devote some of their time to such efforts—the students who strive to develop as a “whole person”—are the ones we want at the University of California.
Some of you may be thinking, “that’s all great, but my family can’t afford UC anyway.”
I am here to tell you that is just not true. We have ways to help you.
If you are a California student from an aid-eligible family that earns an annual income of less than $80,000, your tuition is covered by financial aid. In fact, financial aid fully covers tuition for more than half of UC undergraduates. And three-quarters of California undergraduates receive some grant or scholarship assistance.
Many of our students also receive financial aid to cover part of the cost of housing, food, books, and even transportation. And there are work-study opportunities, part-time jobs, grants, and low-interest loans to bridge any gaps.
The bottom line is this: we are here to help you seize the opportunities that a UC education provides.
Just a few minutes ago, you heard Chancellor-designate Oakley talk about the opportunities provided by a California community college education.
One of those opportunities is another path to the University of California. If you need a little more time to raise your GPA, or you want to stay closer to home a while longer, helping to support your family, then I encourage you to explore this path to UC, too. Right here in your backyard, there are two excellent choices that can help you do so—Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, and Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill.
You may be surprised to learn that we at UC enroll an enormous number of community college transfer students—those who begin their educations at a community college, and later move on to a UC campus. Twenty-seven percent of our students began their college educations this way, and they graduate at the same rate as those who come to the University as freshmen. And based on preliminary data, the class that entered UC this fall counts as the largest community college transfer class in the history of the University.
We are deeply committed to increasing the number of community college transfer students at UC even more. So, if this is the path you choose, know that UC is ready to help you.
One of the ways we are doing so is through the Transfer Pathways program. This program provides a clear roadmap from California community colleges to the University of California for 21 of the most popular academic majors for transfer students. That includes biology, English, computer science, psychology, and more.
The coursework you have to complete isn’t any easier, but the path to UC is straight-forward. And when students do transfer, they are on track to graduate two years later.
Whatever approach you take to the University of California, you will become part of a longstanding tradition of high school graduates from Antioch who pursued a UC education.
You will follow in the footsteps of the 33 Deer Valley High School graduates who enrolled at one of UC’s campuses last year.
You will follow in the footsteps of Hammed Suleman, who spoke here earlier this morning. Hammed graduated from Deer Valley in 2009, went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, and is working toward a master’s degree at Cal today.
And you will follow in the footsteps of Mark Schneider, who was the 15thDirector of the Peace Corps.
For those of you who may not know, the Peace Corps is a volunteer program sponsored by the federal government. The program was founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. He’s the man who said, “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” 
For more than 50 years, the Peace Corps has sent young Americans who have asked themselves that very question—what can they do for our country?—overseas to work with local leaders to improve their communities.
I believe that public service is one of the most noble endeavors any of us can undertake. And I think it is no coincidence that the University of California—an institution built upon the fundamental mission of public service—counts among its alumni an enormous number of people who feel called to serve others around the globe. In fact, the UC Berkeley campus ranks the highest in total alumni volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since the organization was founded.
But well before Mark Schneider became the Director of the Peace Corps in the late 1990s, he was a student at UC Berkeley. He graduated in 1963 with a degree in journalism.
And before that, Mark was a high school student…just like all of you…right here in Antioch.
All 2,200 of you have an important role to play in the next chapter of the story of the state of California. Each and every one of you represents an opportunity, and each and every one of you deserves a quality college education. No matter what path to higher education you take once you graduate from Deer Valley, I hope that you will carry on the tradition established by high school graduates from Antioch who received their diplomas before you and seize the opportunity to pursue a UC education.
Thank you. And go Wolverines!