UCLA’s Academic Advancement Program

Hey everyone! My name is Marlene Quintanilla Flores and I’m a second-year Pre-Human Biology and Society major with a concentration in Public Health. I’m a first-generation Latina born and raised in San Jose, CA.

As a first-generation student, I had to navigate the entire college application process by myself. Learning what Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) meant, how to apply for financial aid (FAFSA) using my parents’ taxes, and the way the different applications were structured, was all very difficult as I balanced these new and important tasks. It was during the challenging components of my journey to get to college that I realized how much I wanted a university that would support me like none other. I didn’t want to have the same feeling of navigating this alone. That’s when I found out about the different opportunities UCLA had for students like me that needed support.

I would have never stepped foot on UCLA’s campus if it weren’t for my high school, Downtown College Prep. The day I visited I fell in love with UCLA and the way it lured you into its beauty. That was the day I decided I was going to UCLA, I was 16. The second time I was fortunate enough to walk and roam through campus was Bruin Day. My mom and oldest brother accompanied me and we attended various resources UCLA offered students like myself. The Academic Advancement Program (AAP) was one of the very first campus resource
presentations I attended because I was interested in knowing how UCLA would support me in my journey to get through my undergraduate.

AAP offered a summer program that’s called Freshman Summer Program, which is also offered for transfers, Transfer Summer Program (TSP). This program is a way for incoming students to get comfortable with the campus, academic rigor, faculty and get ahead with their classes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend FSP for personal reasons but I’ve heard many great things from my peers who were able to. AAP also has their building on campus called Campbell Hall that has many more resources within. One of my favorite resources are the peer learning facilitators (PLF), which are essentially student tutors.

I’ve taken PLFs every quarter at UCLA since I started because they’re very helpful and you get to meet other students that can potentially become your study partners. You are able to create a supportive and collaborative academic experience. They also have academic counselors that helped me with my four-year plan during my first quarter at UCLA. Having access to these resources makes UCLA feel like a community with many individuals helping you on your path to graduation. I’m so grateful that UCLA offers spaces with additional support for students who need help navigating UCLA’s academic rigor. I’ve tried taking advantage of every opportunity AAP offers to me to help myself be successful at UCLA.

I am grateful for UCLA because it felt welcoming and as a first generation Latina, I wasn’t afraid to step out of my 400 student high school into a 31,000 student university. I chose UCLA because I felt at home that one day I visited campus with my high school. I chose UCLA because they understood that as a first generation student I would need many resources to navigate the curriculum and the campus as a whole. I chose UCLA because regardless of where I was from and the experiences I went through growing up, the University wanted me just as much as I wanted to be a part of it.