University of California President Janet Napolitano recently met with 80 high school seniors at West Adams Preparatory High School in Los Angeles, bringing with her the message of UC’s unparalleled combination of access, affordability and academic excellence.

Napolitano spoke with seniors about how UC supports first-generation students as they transition to college life. Educating first-generation students is a critical component of UC’s mission, with some 42 percent of UC undergraduates working to be the first in their families to earn a college degree. UC is launching a coordinated effort across all 10 campuses to connect new first-generation students with faculty mentors who were themselves first-generation college students.

West Adams Preparatory High School senior and college ambassador Skylynn Hayes stated, “I came here today for advice on how to get into these schools. How to not feel discouraged because of where I live,  my race, our ethnicities, our gender or just being who we are. They were very informative and secured me and I feel like this was a great opportunity.”

UCOP supports campuses and students through system-wide funding and programs. It manages the University’s multi-billion dollar operations and investments and oversees medical centers and national labs. It provides centralized labor relations and legal service, and it promotes the well being of its diverse and large workforce. through benefits and retirement programs.

The office of the President coordinates activities that allow a complex and unique system to operate efficiently as one university, furthering its public interest, academic and research-based missions. It oversees and manages programs that serve the entire university system, allowing campuses to capture the savings and efficiencies that come from centralized operations.

UCOP feels the faith-based community is a key component to its outreach. For the second year, they have teamed up with Baldwin Bethany CDC and UCLA for Launch Academy, for students K-8. The program focuses on stem, math and science. Napolitano stated, “I know particularly [in] the African American community, the churches are very strong institutions. So, part of our thinking is reaching out to church leaders to facilitate having speakers from the university to send the message that this is an opportunity for members of the African American community to attend the best public universities in the world. We really want to encourage more applicants from the African American student population.”