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Loyola First Gen Student Assoc. Founder Andrew Pérez ’16 Earns Degree from Harvard

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On the morning of May 28th, Andrew Pérez ’16—one of the founding members of Loyola High School’s First-Generation Student Association—became the first in his family to earn a college degree when he graduated from Harvard University.

Pérez, who was the original president of Loyola’s First-Generation Student Association when the program started in 2015, was interviewed in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the impact COVID-19 has had on new graduates like him. Click here to read the article.

“Andrew knew nothing about the world of selective high schools. When he visited Loyola, he was stunned to learn he had to sit for an entrance exam. Pretty easy, one of the other kids said during a break. Andrew knew he had bombed on the test.

The school took a chance on him anyway. His father stretched his machinist’s salary to pay Andrew’s tuition. Every day his mother — a homemaker who, like his father, had emigrated from Mexico — drove him an hour each way from suburban Pico Rivera to Loyola’s manicured campus, near downtown Los Angeles. Teachers offered extra tutoring, fought for him to get into advanced courses, wrote letters of recommendation.

‘They made me believe in myself,’ he said.”


The Class of 2020 had 46 graduating seniors who identified as first-generation students. 

Applying to college can be a complex and difficult process, even for students whose parents have a college degree. For first-generation students, navigating the educational pipeline may be twice as challenging because of their limited “college knowledge.” Loyola High School is committed to creating and sustaining a vibrant, inclusive community that reflects the expansive demographics and rich mixture of persons who live in Southern California; first-generation students are, undoubtedly, part of those expansive demographics.

The institutionalized support for first-generation students and their families through the CubsFirst program was started in 2015 by Loyola counselor Gina Liberotti Ed.D., Director of Counseling and Assistant Principal for Student Life Dr. Paul Jordan ’88, Director of Loyola’s Center for Service & Justice Jesse Rodriguez, Ed.D and counselor Evelyn Mabra, Ed.D. Andrew Pérez ’16 was the co-founder of Loyola’s First-Generation Student Association and its first president.

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