By Brittney Fleshman
Cal Poly Pomona Assistant Professor Dr. Alvaro Huerta organized a workshop Thursday from noon to 2 p.m. with information for students interested in furthering their education at a graduate or law school.
Huerta is in his first quarter at CPP in both the urban and regional planning and ethnic and women’s studies departments.
“We were able to get a wide-range of students from different disciplines,” said Huerta. “I was actually amazed.”
The workshop was co-sponsored by the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, the Department of Ethnic and Women’s Studies, the American Planning Student Association, the Cesar E. Ch_ÒåÊvez Center for Higher Education, and the African American Student Center.
“When I was an undergrad at UCLA, I didn’t have anything like this,” said Huerta. “I feel like I have an obligation to help prepare students.”
Huerta was raised in Ramona Gardens, a housing project in East Los Angeles. Despite growing up in a rough neighborhood, he achieved a bachelor of arts degree in history at University of California Los Angeles, and a masters in urban planning and a doctorate in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley.
“If you grew up working class or poor like I did, most likely your parents didn’t go to college or even finish high school,” said Huerta. “I’m worried about most of the working class people that don’t have the same resources as the middle class.”
Huerta wants to assure students that they still have opportunities, no matter what background they come from.
“It’s like a foot-in-the-door type of thing,” said Ernesto Chavez, a fourth-year gender, ethnic and multicultural studies student.
Representatives from four different programs were present to give information on the application process and answer questions, which included the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, Loyola Law School, and CPP’s urban and regional planning department. A representative from UCLA’s urban planning program was available through a Skype call.
“Now I know where to look,” said Chavez. “I’ve also heard a lot about researching schools across the nation, because you never know who’s going to give you a full ride.”
Julianna Delgado, associate professor of the urban and regional planning department and interim associate dean of the College of Environmental Design, advised students to not be afraid to apply to their dream school.
“Listen to your heart and what you really want to do and go for it,” said Delgado.
Another tip the representatives mentioned was to always say, “I’m going to be a doctor” instead of saying, “I want to be a doctor.”
This change of perspective allows students to believe their dream is going to happen and that it is not out of reach.
“We do live in a complex world that is highly competitive,” said Huerta. “To have a good job, a B.A unfortunately may not be enough.”
The admissions counselor from USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy told the students to create an account on LinkedIn. This is the world’s largest professional social network that could be very helpful for starting a career.
“I like when they talk about admission requirements and all the things we should start doing now,” said Diego Cardiel, a first-year urban and regional planning student. “I feel that is the most relevant.”
Huerta and the representatives took the time to discuss personal statements and letters of recommendation.
“Don’t restate your resume, tell us about an experience that motivated you,” said Nancy Cardenas from Loyola Law School when referring to cover letters. “Understand who your reader is, and personalize it to the school.”
Her advice on the letters of recommendation was when choosing who to write it, choose someone who has worked closely with you that can speak specifically about you.
“Part of my responsibility as a professor here is not only to help [students] excel while they’re here, but help them once they graduate,” said Huerta.
Huerta has hosted workshops at UCLA similar to this one at CPP.
“I think students are struggling to get by with the universities [continuing] to raise tuition, so it’s hard to think beyond that,” said Huerta. “That limits and restricts what students think is within their possibilities.”
Huerta also commented on the misrepresentation of minorities in graduate programs.
“Public universities have a moral obligation to make sure that all demographic groups are represented,” said Huerta. “That diversity is missing.”
Huerta would like to organize more workshops specific to the discipline so students can get more personalized information.
“If they invest in their graduate degrees, at the end of the day they’re going to be better off.”
Gabrielle Penaranda / The Poly Post
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