Last-minute ante helps freshman

Los Angeles Daily News, CA
Aug 2 2004

Last-minute ante helps freshman

By Naush Boghossian
Staff Writer

GLENDALE — After years of studying, earning good grades and taking
advanced placement classes, Veronika Barsegyan got what she had been
hoping for: a big, fat letter of acceptance from UCLA.

It was followed, however, by another letter — this one explaining
that, because of funding shortages, she’d have to wait two years
before starting at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Disappointed, the 18-year-old Glendale resident enrolled in classes
at Glendale Community College.

But wait.

Barsegyan is now headed back to UCLA — the result of last week’s
state budget vote that directed $33 million back to University of
California and California State University campuses.

“I’d be more understanding if they said they couldn’t accept me
because my SAT scores weren’t high enough or my grades weren’t good
enough,” Barsegyan said. “But after you worked that hard, they tell
you you’re in, but you’re not in. And it’s hard to explain to
everyone who asks, ‘Where are you going to school?”‘

About 7,000 UC and Cal State applicants who had been redirected to
community colleges — with the understanding that they would be
guaranteed transfers to their chosen schools if they kept up their
grades — will again be offered positions at the schools.

Glendale Community College had 22 students who had indicated they
were interested in joining the guaranteed transfer program, and
Pasadena City College, 66.

“The reality is that these students had qualified by grade and by SAT
scores and … they had to redirect them despite having done
everything necessary to be admitted,” said Sen. Jack Scott,
D-Pasadena, chairman of the budget subcommittee on education that had
fought against the higher education cuts.

“We can’t deny dreams and the kind of values and upward mobility that
education gives people.”

Barsegyan — unlike the 80 percent of students who, when offered UC
redirecting, turned it down to attend other schools — chose not to
attend the private Loyola Marymount University at about $25,000 a
year because she didn’t want to go into debt.

She had already immersed herself in classes at Glendale College,
finishing summer school Thursday and planning to take classes in the
fall. Her goal was to finish up community college in one year.

“It was a dream of mine to go to UCLA, and I was kind of
disappointed. I was trying to hurry up and get there,” she said,
laughing. “It wasn’t like ‘Bummer, I’m going to GCC,’ but now I’m
really excited because it’s a completely different atmosphere there,
to experience the UCLA life.”

Barsegyan, who graduated from Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School
with a 3.9 grade point average and scored 1260 on her SATs, plans to
study political science and eventually apply to law school.

Her father, Apet, who had been closely monitoring the state budget
discussions, said he’s pleased that his daughter will attend the
university she was qualified to attend.

The family moved from Armenia to the United States 15 years ago, and
his children grew up knowing that education was the No. 1 priority.

“One of the goals for human beings is to lead a better life and
provide better living conditions for your children,” Apet Barsegyan
said. “In this case … even though the decision was made to cut the
financial budget to schools, people stood up to reverse it. That’s
what makes this a great country.”