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San Diego State University

Jocelyn Pacheco, Graduate Student, Educational Leadership

Author: Tomas Nieto Jocelyn Pacheco, a Master’s student in Education Leadership at San Diego State University, is an amazing Latina scholar and mentor who hopes to make a positive change to the education system. After becoming a Gate’s Millennium Scholar, Pacheco had the financial backing to attend University of California, Los Angeles to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Pacheco draws from her childhood, growing up in a low socioeconomic neighborhood, for her inspiration to change the education system. She remembers studying in poor learning conditions because of the public schools she attended had very little funding. But she acknowledges although her learning conditions were poor, her teachers and faculty mentorship gave her the opportunity to move further with her studies. Thus, her studies and pursuits revolve around her personal mission to improve the education system for every student.Jocelyn will start her doctoral training this fall in education in the Claremont College/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program. One of the most interesting points Pacheco makes is the socioeconomic disparages within education. After growing up in Compton, California and attending UCLA, Pacheco notes there are huge gaps within the quality of education many scholars receive. She also notes although many underrepresented students are admitted into universities, a smaller number actually finish their degrees. Therefore, she emphasizes the importance of not only getting into college, but also working hard to finish a degree. Pacheco is an inspiration because she can relate and connect to her mentees and is dedicated to give back to her underserved communities. She is a member of Latinas Guiding Latinas, a mentorship program through UCLA for the surrounding Los Angeles schools, and SDSU’s Educational Opportunity Program and Gates Millennium Mentoring Program. Through these programs, Pacheco encourages all students to seek help through faculty mentorship and other programs and acknowledges there are many challenges we face within academia. By obtaining her Ph.D. in Education, she strives towards improving the education system because there is amazing potential for positive change. The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program selects 1,000 talented students each year from across the country to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. The goal of the program is to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential by facilitating successful completion of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The GMS Program, established in 1999, was initially funded by a $1 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Over 10,315 Gates Millennium Scholars completed a degree since the program's inception.