At 5 feet 11 inches, Leticia Oseguera ’98 was never the tallest player on the UCI women’s basketball team, but she made up for it with speed and brains. Come game time, if the ball hit the rim, she’d quickly calculate where it would land and position herself to catch the rebound. She was right – 969 times. Oseguera set the school record for career rebounds that still stands.

Since then, Oseguera has used her brains to make a different kind of rebound – returning to UCI in September 2005 as assistant professor in the Department of Education. Oseguera has transferred the skills she learned on the court to academia.

“I attribute a lot of my success to sports,” she says. “In basketball, you have to be disciplined and focused.”

Oseguera got an early education in perseverance growing up in Santa Ana. She would shoot hoops with her three brothers and the neighborhood boys – the only girl in the game.

“They went easy on me, until I scored on them,” she says. The boys toughened her up for the basketball court at Mater Dei High School and UCI, where in 1996 she grabbed 289 rebounds in a single season – another enduring record.

“If I saw a ball coming off the rim, we were going to get it back.”

Off the court, she scored well on tests, too. She was twice named the Big West Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and in 1998 she received the Lauds & Laurels award for outstanding athlete. She was inducted into the UCI Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.

“I learned to burn the candle at both ends,” Oseguera says, “and the coaches at UCI were supportive academically.”

After getting a bachelor’s degree in sociology, she attended UCLA – receiving a master’s in higher education in 2000 and a doctorate in 2004. In addition to teaching education classes, she’s on the faculty of UCI’s Chicano/Latino Studies Program. She conducts research on factors that help students to succeed in college.

“So many people helped me while I was at UCI,” Oseguera says. “I hope to be influential in someone else’s life.”