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BIANCA PIMENTEL

Region IV

BIANCA PIMENTEL
Mission College

Bianca has been part of the EOPS program for two years during her time at Mission College. As a first-generation college student, she has faced many challenges on her educational journey. Through perseverance, she will be transferring to UC Riverside this fall, majoring in Sociology and hoping to be the first in her family to get a Bachelor’s degree and to one day complete a PhD in Counseling Psychology. Struggling with a toxic family environment and homelessness as a child, Bianca was out on her own at a young age. She had to work full-time in order to support herself on top of juggling all her schoolwork, which was challenging for her mental health. Despite everything, she loved working with the children that participated in the after-school program at the YMCA where she served as the Assistant Director. Many of the students she worked with experienced an adverse childhood, so she felt like she could relate to them through her experiences, which ultimately sparked her interest in Sociology.

Bianca is excited to transfer to UC Riverside because of the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the leading researchers on the topics of mental health in children and teens, the criminalization of youth, risk, and resilience. Her ultimate goal is to develop her own rehabilitation center for youth that provides re-entry mentorship and college access programs on site for at-promise, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth. She is passionate about ending the cycle of incarceration because she has witnessed many people in her life fight this battle--sometimes successfully, and other times unsuccessfully.

Bianca is grateful for EOPS giving her the opportunity to focus on her classes by helping to alleviate financial stress. The program gave her a clear path for her time at Mission College. Before joining EOPS, she had no idea what classes to take. When she first met with an EOPS counselor, she found out she had taken classes she did not even need to fulfill transfer requirements. Theresa Tran helped her put an educational plan together and showed her tools that allowed her to take ownership of her education. Theresa modeled student empowerment for her, and she has been able to use the skills she taught her to similarly empower teens in the college pipeline. EOPS also gave her the opportunities to participate in workshops that covered topics in mental health. It helped her to hear ways to cope and connect with other students, while giving her ideas on how to help others. EOPS also paid for her to attend the Spring Break College Road Trip, which exposed her to UC Riverside. Afterward, she set the goal of attending a research university to pave the path towards a PhD.

This scholarship will mitigate some of the financial burdens Bianca will face when she transfers to UC Riverside in the fall. It will also help her to set up her life as she adjusts to living in a new city. She will be able to focus on adapting to the UC quarter system and search for research opportunities. She will only be receiving basic financial aid and has not yet been successful in securing other scholarships. Similarly, she does not receive financial assistance from her family. She is incredibly grateful to have been selected as the recipient of this award, and she promises to pay it forward by supporting others the way that EOPS at Mission College has supported her.