Thomas Parham, UCI's vice chancellor of student affairs, meets with students at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera during the 2015 Achieve UC effort. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., Nov. 1, 2016 — The University of California, Irvine’s vice chancellor of student affairs, Thomas Parham ’77, will join other UC chancellors and senior leaders meeting in November with thousands of high school students and their families to urge them to aim for a UC education.

His 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, visit to Compton High School is part of an expanded Achieve UC effort to increase diversity among University of California undergraduates. Altogether, UC representatives will participate in 100 events this fall, starting with a visit to a Bay Area high school by UC President Janet Napolitano.

This is the fifth year of outreach to schools and communities that have significant numbers of UC-eligible students but send relatively few to the university. One objective is to ensure that teens and their families know that the University of California has a place for you and your academic dreams, and one of the most generous financial aid programs in the nation; 57 percent of California students receive enough aid to completely cover their tuition and fees, and 75 percent pay less than the sticker price.

Achieve UC has, in part, been responsible for the most diverse freshman class ever admitted to the system. UCI’s 2016 cohort included 44.5 percent more African Americans and 38.4 percent more Chicanos/Latinos than in 2015.

Parham elected to speak at Compton High School this year for several reasons:

  • The school noted a 38 percent increase in applications to UCI between fall 2015 and fall 2016.
  • The number of students from Compton admitted to UCI more than doubled in that same time frame.
  • The number of students from Compton who enrolled at UCI more than doubled during that period.

“Along with an inspirational message, we want to give students and their families practical tools, such as workshops on aspects of the college-going process, from SAT test taking to budgeting and applying for financial aid,” Parham said. “And as a UCI alumnus, I can share personal experience about how a first-generation college student from a single-parent family in Los Angeles can thrive at UCI.”

Also speaking at the high school that day is Keith Curry, Ed.D. ’11, CEO of the Compton Community College District. “I want to give people hope,” he said. “You can be from Compton and be a success. Every student can be successful with the right academic and support services.”

Students who aren’t ready for a four-year university will learn about new transfer pathways that have simplified the process of getting to a UC campus from community college – a route taken by one out of every three UC graduates.

“A UC education is a game changer that will continue to open doors for the rest of your life,” Napolitano said. “You do your part: work hard, take advantage of leadership opportunities and push yourself to take challenging classes. And no matter who you are, where you come from or how much money you and your family have, we’ll do our part to help you get here.”

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

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