From first-generation to Fulbright: A Latina scholar’s story
By age 8, Flavio Estrada was picking tobacco in the fields of Mexico. He yearned to join the other little boys and girls going to school, but his family couldn’t afford it. He never got the chance. Fast-forward 46 years: His daughter Daniela, a UC Irvine political science major, will graduate this June with high honors and has been named a Fulbright and a Truman scholar.
“I’m extremely proud of my daughter and all her accomplishments. I know she’s not stopping here. She has dreams that are even bigger than this,” says Estrada, 54, who today works 60-hour weeks as a cook in Orange County. He has ceaselessly urged his children to seek education: “I always tell them, ‘Your mother and me, we have struggled, and we have put our bodies to work. Be smart; use your mind.’”
Daniela Estrada, 22, says her father’s words and both her parents’ hard labor have provided powerful motivation. Combined with an array of mentoring and other resources offered by UC Irvine, it has put her on track to achieve what was once a “faraway dream” to be a lawyer.
She is one of many people thrilled that UC Irvine has been designated a Hispanic-serving institution by the U.S. Department of Education for 2017-18. That means fully one-quarter of undergraduates identify as Latino, and half of all students are recipients of financial aid.
The classification opens up possible federal grants for tuition assistance, facility improvements and critical programs for everyone on campus.
Photo on home page of Link: Daniela Estrada. Credit: Steve Zylius/UC Irvine.