Stories

The Underground Scholars Initiative UCI is the UC Irvine chapter of a student organization of formerly incarcerated and systems impacted students which aims to create a pathway for formerly incarcerated individuals into higher education. This page includes stories from Underground Scholars at UCI.

Graduation cap on lights

Henry Dominic Rodriguez

I came from a nice middle-class family. In 1969 we moved into a predominantly white neighborhood. We were one of two LatinX families on our street. At 10 years old everything changed when my mother died. My only sibling (my sister) moved out 2 years later, and my father did what he could to raise…

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Graduation caps on multiple students

Ester Mendez

I remember asking strangers for a quarter in front of a liquor store to quiet the psychological and physical pain of being sober. People that didn’t understand drug addiction and alcoholism usually judged me as a useless member of society. It was easy to limit their perspectives to what society has conditioned them to believe…

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Prison Education Initiative - Prisoner typing on computer

Gabe Rosales

As a first-generation Chicano on my father’s side and second on my mother’s side, I was raised between two cultures. My parents met in Mexico City and when they came over to the states, my father began his journey employed as a gardener while he and my mother lived with my grandmother. My parent’s split…

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Books stacked creating a window

Jesus Adan

I first began my foray into higher education in 2011. However, I was forced to discontinue when my father decided to leave our household, and I lost my job. At the time, I was only able to acquire a position working long days and nights at a warehouse, which discouraged me from returning to school…

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