Back to Top
A - Z Index  |   Canvas  |   Directory  |   Email  |   My Portal  |   People |    SSO     Disability Accommodation Resources
Dell Scholar

April 19, 2021

MVC UBMS Student Named Dell Scholar


Leslie Zaragoza, a student in the Moreno Valley College's TRIO Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) program, has been named a Dell Scholar.

She has been accepted to a number of universities, including Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia, and recently received an offer of a full scholarship from Johns Hopkins University.

"I was shocked when I learned of the scholarship, I didn't think my story, GPA and extracurricular activities would stand out nationally," said Zaragoza, who is leaning toward Harvard. "I am so thankful for the opportunity to get this help. Winning this scholarship will lessen the financial burden since paying for college was of concern."

As a Dell Scholar, Zaragoza will receive a $20,000 scholarship, a laptop, and personalized and multifaceted items that support academic, financial and emotional life challenges that may prevent students from completing college. The Dell Scholars program is a national scholarship and college completion program that nurtures and empowers students on their path to a college degree.

"When Leslie contacted me sharing that she earned the Dell Scholarship and that she was accepted to all of these amazing colleges and universities, I was extremely excited but not shocked," Angel Orta-Perez, assistant director, Upward Bound/Upward Bound Math & Science, said. "Leslie has been an amazing UBMS scholar from the moment she joined. She took advantage of nearly every opportunity we put in front of her and that eagerness to step out of her comfort zone is what will continue to lead her towards achieving her goals."

Zaragoza, who holds a 4.857 grade point average, is interested in pursuing a career in medicine. She has been active in the College's MediGoal Program, a partnership with TRIO and the Riverside University Health System.

"Many immigrants have this lingering fear of not only being detained but also being denied access to financial and medical help," Zaragoza said in her QuestBridge essay. "Seeing the long lines of immigrant parents with their children at the only local clinic that did not require insurance made me realize this was a large issue. Thus, my experiences as a child of immigrants have driven me to seek a medical career, one in which I would be able to help and treat immigrant patients without instilling fear of experiences I once faced."

She added that she was also inspired to major in medicine after listening to her mother's stories during her time as a nurse in Mexico. Zaragoza said, she plans on becoming a general surgeon.

Zaragoza has been in UBMS since her sophomore year at Vista del Lago High School. She is active in several organizations such as TRIO Upward Bound Math and Science, Jr. Society Hispanic Professional Engineers, MediGoal – Advanced Youth in Medical Education, University of California, Riverside Future Physician Leaders, and Chicano Youth Leadership Program.

She is also on track to graduate as her high school's valedictorian.

"Leslie has never had the luxury to take the easier path during her journey towards her goals and that has helped her grow into an extremely strong-willed and goal-oriented person," said Orta-Perez. "When I think of Leslie during her college years, I know that she will persist and succeed in reaching her goals, that's a given. My hope for Leslie is that she will be blessed to have the financial burdens that have plagued her through her entire life be released during her educational journey. If there was a sure thing to invest in, it's Leslie."

The UBMS program is federally funded by the US Department of Education. Since 2012, UBMS has partnered with the Moreno Valley Unified School District and Vista del Lago High School to offer an interactive intensive pre-college experience designed to strengthen the math and science skills of participating high school students. UBMS helps students recognize and develop their potential to excel in math while encouraging them to pursue postsecondary degrees, and ultimately careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Each year, UBMS serves a cohort of approximately 60 high school students from Vista del Lago High School of which over two-thirds are from low-income, first-generation backgrounds.

Students can apply for UBMS here.