Irene Morales graduated cum laude as a double major in Criminology, Law, and Society and Education Sciences in June 2021. With a confident attitude during her undergraduate career, she studied abroad in Rome, lobbied to increase state funding for higher education at the California Capitol, participated in a week-long service project at the U.S./Mexico border, taught high school freshmen on globalization and international relations, mentored first generation college freshmen, and advised peers on studying abroad.
Most notably, along with Phi Beta Kappa membership, Irene received the UCI Alumni Association Chancellor’s Award of Distinction and the Distinguished Anteater Award. Now as a recent UCI alumna, Irene works as the Enrollment and Operations Coordinator at the UCI Study Abroad Center and is part of the UCI Early Academic Outreach Program Presentation Team to engage high school students, families, and school administrators in a variety of workshops that are designed to prepare historically underserved students for college eligibility.
1) If we ask one of your friends to describe you, what would they say?
When asking my best friends to describe me, they said that I am a warm individual who is determined, thoughtful, and genuine. It means the world to me to know that my friends perceive me in this manner.
2) What life events or personal mentorships, if any, directed you to the field of study you have chosen for your future endeavors?
Ever since I was little, I have always loved going to school. In my college courses, I began to grasp the reality that my devotion for learning had neglected the fact that as a Latina student, I had unconsciously assimilated into mainstream white American culture during my K-12 education. When remarkable Profesora Nevàrez explicitly viewed my cultural background as an asset, I felt a new sense of pride in my Mexican identity. As she owned her title of Doctora, I recognized the importance of educators who are culturally sustaining and representative of the student population they serve in order to successfully motivate minority students to pursue academic excellence.
By developing a deep understanding of social inequities that impact minority students, under the mentorship of women of color such as Profesora Casavantes Bradford and Professor Iloh, I am eager to become a bilingual social sciences high school educator with the hopes of making a positive difference in their lives. In the later future, I hope to become a professor who produces research on what I experienced as a Latina educator for minority students in the K-12 system, supports undergraduate historically underrepresented students, and shares knowledge with college students in order to produce more humanizing and successful educators for minority students.
3) Did you ever seek information and advice from the SOP advising team? If so, what type of advice were you seeking and what was your experience with them?
The SOP advising team has provided me with so much valuable information and advice throughout the past three years! When I worked as one of their Student Advisors during my sophomore year, they taught me how to prepare myself in becoming a strong applicant for prestigious awards, both in the short and long term. A year later and now for a second time, they heavily supported me with my Fulbright ETA applications. It is amazing to know I can count on the SOP Team to provide me with genuine and detailed feedback on all of my materials in order to highlight my various passions and accolades in the best way possible.
To learn more about SOP and the resources available to high-achieving students visit our website.