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She Was Barely Coming Down From The Excitement Of Getting Into Her Top Choice In University When She Discovered She Was Pregnant

Natalie Ruiz has crossed the stage at the University of California, Berkeley but her story is not the typical college time story. The 25-year-old Latina discovered that she was pregnant just three weeks into her first semester in college and, for a moment, she thought her dreams of graduating college were dashed. Ruiz talked to mitú about how she pushed forward with her dreams with the help of the unexpected village of people that came together to help her graduate from UC Berkeley with a 3.97 GPA.

For Natalie Ruiz, the dream of finally being accepted to UC Berkeley was almost derailed by an unplanned pregnancy.

CREDIT: Natalie Ruiz / Facebook

“My absolute first thought was that my father was going to be furious, that I’d not just let him down but brought shame to him and my family,” Ruiz admitted to mitú. “I was coming down from the excitement of even getting into Berkeley, which was my number one choice that had rejected me as a freshman and accepted me as a transfer. I felt like I had finally achieved something really great by being accepted to UC Berkeley and then all of a sudden I had tarnished it.”

But, on her own accord, Ruiz decided to push forward and make sure she would one day walk across that stage to her family and friends cheering her on.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Natalie Ruiz

Ruiz told mitú that she put her energy into an unhealthy form of motivation by telling herself that she had no more room for failure. She tried her best to just immerse herself in her classes so that she could honor the sacrifices of her farm working abuelito. Then Ruiz began to use her real-life experience to find what interested her in her studies. As a young mother who would go to the stores late at night to use WIC stamps so no one would see, Ruiz began to study more sociology to help her make sense of her situation.

But just six weeks after having her baby, Ruiz became really ill and discovered that she has a serious case of pancreatitis that had gone undetected during her pregnancy. This left her in the hospital for a month and recovering from surgery for six months.

CREDIT: Natalie Ruiz / Facebook

“In the time after I had my daughter, I went into the emergency room for a fifth time after many incidents of pain that were unexplained,” Ruiz told mitú about her post-pregnancy health scare that left her in the hospital for six months. “I was diagnosed with having severe necrotizing pancreatitis and what that meant was that the pancreatitis was getting so bad that it was essentially dying and infecting and cutting off the function of my organs, specifically my pancreas as well as my gallbladder and my spleen.”

During her six-month recovery, Ruiz told mitú that a village of people suddenly came together to help her take care of her baby.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Natalie Ruiz

Ruiz says that over the six months in the hospital there were groups of people helping her make it through. She was in constant contact with her professors as she insisted in staying enrolled because she needed the financial aid to pay rent, which you can still do even if you are in the hospital. But what really touched her was the organizing that her friends and family executed to make sure that her child was taken care of. Calendars were marked to keep at least one person with Ruiz and another with her baby at all times. There were also women who donated their own breast milk so that her then-6-week-old baby was able to continue feeding on breast milk the entire six months she was in the hospital. Ruiz recognizes that if any part of the support that grew around her was not there, their spontaneous health care center would have fallen apart.

But the person she thanks the most is her partner and father of her child.

CREDIT: Natalie Ruiz / Facebook

“I have so much respect for the many of my friends who are single mothers, who are parents on their own, because I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my partner,” Ruiz told mitú. “I mean that in terms of helping me balance school with parenting, helping me to maintain my mental health during the stress. The emotional support.”

Ruiz says that she was lucky to be a student at UC Berkeley during her pregnancy and young motherhood.

CREDIT: Matt Ha

“I am extremely fortunate to have been at UC Berkeley, where the resources available for students with children are far more generous than other universities. These resources include a student-parent grant which was added to my financial aid package,” Ruiz told mitú. “I was the recipient of a few other truly great scholarships including the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award, as well as the New Leaders Scholarship. Between these supports, as well as family support, I feel extremely privileged to have been able to finance my educational dreams.”

Now that she is a brand new college graduate, Ruiz is looking for work that will make it possible for her to help other people who are going through what she went through.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Natalie Ruiz

The 25-year-old graduate would like to work in social policy research. Specifically, she wants to “advocate on behalf of poor families in California” in order to better inform lawmakers about the social impact their legislation has on poor families.

“If [education] is your dream, do not give up,” Ruiz tells young mothers about juggling a baby and school.

CREDIT: UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small

But Ruiz does make a point to say that if you are a young mother or pregnant in college, you might have to advocate for yourself until things change. Ruiz credits her university’s procedures and resources to young mothers before her who advocated for the kind of services from which she benefited. If it wasn’t for the student parents before her, Ruiz acknowledges that her own journey navigating motherhood and college would have been much tougher. Above all else, Ruiz says you cannot and should not apologize for being pregnant or a parent. She argues that by apologizing you are making harder for universities to create the necessary spaces to help future student parents.

Congratulations, Natalie!

CREDIT: Matt Ha

May you have all the future successes you have dreamed of.


READ: This Latina Blamed Her Parents For Her Lack Of Education When She Was A Teen, Now She Is Graduating From UC Berkeley And Thanking Them

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A Judge Has Ruled That The University of California System Can No Longer Use SAT And ACT Tests For Admissions And It’s A Huge Win For The Underprivileged

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A Judge Has Ruled That The University of California System Can No Longer Use SAT And ACT Tests For Admissions And It’s A Huge Win For The Underprivileged

Kevork Djansezian / Getty

Advocates against the use of standardized tests for college admissions have long argued that the use of such exams sets back students from underprivileged backgrounds and those who have disabilities. Aware of the leg up it gives to privileged and non-disabled students an advantage in the admittance process, they’ve rallied for schools to end such practices.

And it looks like they’ve just won their argument.

A judge has ruled that the University of California system can no longer use ACT and SAT tests as part of their admissions process.

Brad Seligman is the Alameda County Superior Court Judge who issued the preliminary injunction in the case of Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California on Tuesday. The plaintiffs in Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California include five students and six organizations College Access Plan, Little Manila Rising, Dolores Huerta Foundation, College Seekers, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Community Coalition.

In his decision, Judge Seligman underlined that the UC system’s “test-optional” policy on UC campuses has long given privileged and non-disabled students a chance at a “second look” in the admissions process. According to Seligman, this “second look” denies such opportunities to students who are unable to access the tests.

The decision is a major victory for students with disabilities and from underprivileged backgrounds.

News of the decision comes on the heels of the university system’s ruling to waive the standardized testing requirements until 2024.

In May, a news release asserted that if a new form of a standardized test had not been developed by 2025, the system would have to put an end to the testing requirement for California students. On Monday, the judge’s ruling took things further by banning the consideration of scores from students who submit them all together.

“The current COVID 19 pandemic has resulted in restrictions in the availability of test sites,” Seligman wrote in his ruling. “While test-taking opportunities for all students have been limited, for persons with disabilities, the ability to obtain accommodations or even to locate suitable test locations for the test is ‘almost nil.'”

A spokesperson for the University of California said the university “respectfully disagrees with the Court’s ruling.”

“An injunction may interfere with the University’s efforts to implement an appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies and its ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” the spokesperson said. According to the spokesperson, the UC system is considering further legal action in the case. The system said that its testing has allowed for an increase in admission of low-income and first-generation-to-college-students for the fall of 2020.

With UC being the largest university system in the country, Seligman’s ruling is a massive deal. Students and advocates have long fought for the elimination of these standardized tests arguing that they do not accurately reflect a student’s academic ability.

“Research has repeatedly proved that students from wealthy families score higher on the SAT and ACT, compared to students from low-income families,” reports CNN. It’s important to note that the analysis by Inside Higher Ed revealed that the “lowest average scores for each part of the SAT came from students with less than $20,000 in family income. The highest scores came from those with more than $200,000 in family income.”

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For The First Time In History, Latinos Make Up The Largest Group Of University Of California System’s Freshman Class— It’s Not Enough

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For The First Time In History, Latinos Make Up The Largest Group Of University Of California System’s Freshman Class— It’s Not Enough

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Updated August 13, 2020.

For the first time, Latinos make up a majority of students accepted into the University of California system. California is home to a very large Latino population and these incoming freshman class is being celebrated as representing California.

For the first time in its history, the University of California system admitted a class of majority Latino students.

According to data about admissions, Latinos represent 36 percent of the 79,953 students accepted to the UC system. Asian-Americans represent 35 percent of the new freshman class. Meanwhile, white people made up 21 percent, African-Americans made up 5 percent, and American Indian/Pacific Islander made up 0 percent. Three percent of students chose not to reveal their race or ethnicity.

Audrey Dow, senior vice president of the policy and advocacy organization Campaign for College Opportunity, spoke to The New York Times about the progress and said that while these shifts are momentous, they’re not enough. “But 36 percent of admits is far under proportional representation,” she told NYT in an email. According to the paper, proportional representation would be much closer to having 50 percent of students be Latino considering that more than half of high school graduates in California are Latino.

“This has been an incredibly challenging time as many students have been making their college decision in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement. “UC continues to see increased admissions of underrepresented students as we seek to educate a diverse student body of future leaders. The incoming class will be one of our most talented and diverse yet, and UC is proud to invite them to join us.”

The university system recently did away with SAT/ACT requirements.

Some think that the university system eliminating the SAT/ACT requirements explains part of the uptick in Latino students. In May, the UC system announced that students would not be required to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission.

The standardized tests have long been accused of preventing minority and disadvantaged students from attending college.

The Compton Unified School District filed a lawsuit against the UC system in late 2019. The lawsuit, filed by four students and six community organizers, points out the racial bias of the tests that block disadvantaged and minority students from being admitted to college.

READ: In-Person Courses Have Been Canceled As Well As Recreational Activities, Now Students Are Protesting To Cancel SAT Exams Due To Coronavirus

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