Page 7 - De Anza College Online Graduation Celebration Program 2021
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 Karl S. Pister Award
The Karl S. Pister Leadership Opportunity Award provides a $20,000 scholarship to a De Anza student who is transferring to the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Yajaira Orozco
When Yajaira Orozco first came to De Anza, she thought community college was just a place where “you get in and you get out.” Her outlook changed when she began taking classes in Intercultural Studies and Political Science.
“I realized there is so much more I could be involved in,” she said. “All these different things started connecting for me.”
Yajaira, 21, is transferring this fall to the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she will major in Community Studies and Environmental Studies. Eventually, she wants to work on environmental policies affecting low-income and immigrant communities.
After graduating from Sequoia High School in Redwood City, Yajaira enrolled at the University of California, Merced, but then decided to finish her lower-division requirements closer to home.
That brought her to De Anza, where Yajaira said she learned new things about her own identity, as a
Latina and daughter of immigrants, through Chicanx Studies courses. More doors opened when she took a Grassroots Democracy course taught by Cynthia Kaufman, faculty director of De Anza’s Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action.
Classmates encouraged Yajaira to join Students for Environmental Equity at De Anza (SEED). She found herself attending public meetings and advocating for public transit and other services for students and low- income communities.
Yajaira also held several jobs to help support herself and her family, after her mother was laid off from a janitorial job. She has worked in restaurants, as a personal aide for senior citizens, and as a tutor and mentor for younger children at the Boys and Girls Clubs in Redwood City.
Despite many demands on her time, she said she’s grateful for her experiences at De Anza. “It helped me to mature,” she said, “and to really discover what I want to do next.”

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