Accepted to all twelve colleges where she applied, including UC San Diego and Loyola Marymount, Frida Hernandez always had Cal in her sights. “I was used to being first in my class,” she says. “At Cal, everyone is, and some of my lectures are bigger than my entire graduating class. It means I’ve had to up my game. I loved school, and I wanted the challenge of Cal. I love that it is the number one public university in the world.”
Raised in San Diego, she is the first in her family to attend college. “From the beginning, they were talking about college,” she says of her experience at High Tech High. As a straight-A student, her counselors urged her to consider other options, but for Frida, it was always Cal.
“Acceptance to Cal was bittersweet,” she says. “It was great to be accepted, but I thought, ‘How are we going to afford this?’” Her parents have always been enthusiastic about college for their children, and her mother insisted there would be a way. The Kruttschnitt Aspire Scholarship Program (KASP) and other financial aid currently cover the cost of her tuition, housing, and books.
A mass communications major, Frida got her start in marketing by helping her parents promote and build their business by managing photo shoots, document design, and rebranding. She likes the idea of being an entrepreneur and wants to own her own marketing firm after graduation.
In addition to her professional goals, Frida has a deep commitment to community service. She tutors students in reading and math at The Pro Kids Golf Academy and teaches Spanish at the elementary and middle school levels. She has a vision of using her marketing expertise to empower younger students by teaching them to use media to tell their stories.
Being away from her parents and siblings is hard. “Being more independent, managing my own time, being organized and a self-starter is an affirming experience. Being a grown-up is good,” says Frida. They text daily and stay in touch with video chats and Google Hangouts.
Frida believes that not all students who dream of college get the encouragement she received. “Lots of kids don’t get the help they need. Often, counselors don’t support them and suggest they lower their expectations. Opportunities aren’t always presented. My high school taught me to look for my own resources,” she explains. “Reach out. Find your own path. Don’t just accept what others set out for you. If it isn’t what you want, it isn’t good for you.”
Sometimes uncertain about where life after Berkeley will take her, Frida is ever the optimist. “The possibilities are endless. No matter what happens, Cal provides a great future.”
Learn more about the Kruttschnitt Aspire Scholarship Program (KASP)