UCLA Advocate In Action: Xiutleth Santibanez Brings Message Of Optimism

UCLA advocate and alumnus Xiutleth Santibanez finds refuge in his favorite place on campus: the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden. (photo by Jonathan Van Dyke)

Tucked deep within the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, Xiutleth Santibanez is home, wrapped in his UCLA oasis, a place that made him comfortable to reach achievements he dreamed about for years, and instill a confidence in life he wishes to pass forward to the next generation.

“It hasn’t changed,” he said as he walked the winding pathways within the garden. “You can still see all the etchings on the trees students made. If anything describes me, it’s the chaos of this garden, but with so much beauty. People will say, ‘There’s just leaves and dead trees.’ But those trees are dormant, and there is something alive here.”

Santibanez always wanted to go to this university. And since graduating from UCLA, he has become an active voice for the university and higher education, traveling as far as Washington D.C. to have his voice heard.

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President Napolitano honors legislators’ commitment to higher education

Assemblymember Don Wagner (UCLA, ’83), R-Irvine, receives the Outstanding Advocacy award for his leadership on higher education issues from President Napolitano, center, and Board of Regents Chair Monica Lozano, right, at the UC Board of Regents meeting in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016.

UC President Napolitano announced the inaugural Outstanding Advocacy award recipients at the Sept. 14 UC Board of Regents meeting. The awards, granted jointly by the university president and Board of Regents chair, recognize the efforts of state legislators who champion public higher education and fight consistently to keep it accessible and affordable for California students.

Four California legislators were honored for their support of higher education and UC: Assemblymember Don Wagner (R-Irvine) and Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), who are the two founding co-chairs of the UC Legislative Roundtable; Senator Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), who is chair of the Senate Education Committee; and Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Carpinteria), who is the former Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. Additionally, community leader and UCLA alumnus Howard Welinsky was recognized as one of the university’s strongest allies.

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Government Relationships Go Long Way For UCLA, Los Angeles Community

With the support of locally elected officials, UCLA students were transported by bus to locations all across the city during Volunteer Day.

The proof was posted on an office door — a collection of more than 20 letters from elected dignitaries across the state. It was a culmination of an effort that resulted in more than $140 million in public-private investment to Southern California.

Earlier this summer, it was announced that the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute’s California regional hub would be headquartered in Los Angeles and spearheaded by UCLA, among other collegial partners. The hard work to win the project started in May 2013, and culminated in a $70 million matching grant that was only possible by the combined efforts of elected officials at local, state and federal levels, along with an eager community coalition.

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Rep. Loretta Sanchez Extols Virtues of Federal Investment In Higher Education

U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez greets students during a special higher education luncheon event that also touched on her U.S. Senate candidacy. (photos by Jonathan Van Dyke)

When she was very young, U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Orange) found herself on the front cover of a newspaper as a member of the first class of Head Start.

She might not have known it as a preschooler, but Sanchez said she more than understands the transformative power of education, especially that of higher education.

“You’re looking at a public-private former student, someone who was invested in,” she said after telling her Head Start story and noting that she later received financial help from Rotary to attain her Masters Degree.

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