Jose Luis Arellano

Literatures of the World :: Bebe and Marvin Zigman Town & Gown Scholar

When Jose took a tutoring job while a student at Southwestern College, he discovered a passion for helping others understand not only the subject but also the language in which it was written. As a tutor, Jose has taught English to speakers of many other languages—including sign language—and he plans to dedicate his career to it.

The dream of attending college at UC San Diego began as a high school Upward Bound participant. “It allowed me to not only live in Sixth College but also to develop a love and admiration for UC San Diego. But as a first-generation college student, I was unaware of the necessary requirements to become a Triton. At Southwestern, I did my best to delve into the required steps to become a member of the University of California family.”

As a result, Jose feels indebted to the people and programs that successfully launched him. “My sense of community and my academic skills were fortified at Southwestern College. For this reason, I would like to give back by teaching diverse groups of people how to develop their writing skills and to develop an appreciation for the humanities.” He plans to teach at the community college level.

Jose almost missed his chance. The year that he applied to UC San Diego was fraught with personal challenges, including income instability and the loss of his father to cancer, an ordeal that stretched over several months. Through it all, says Jose, “I was able to maintain a competitive GPA and successfully transfer to UC San Diego.” He found that tutoring gave him direction and a positive avenue of escape. “It provided me with a purpose. The special connection I had with my tutees, and with the English professor I was working with made me feel useful.”

Jose’s mother also kept him focused. “She’s a hero. Since 1997, she has supported my brother and me with one income, and she is currently employed as a student attendant in Chula Vista, California. She not only makes a difference in the lives of students who have multiple disabilities, including Down syndrome and autism, but she also supported my father after he was diagnosed with cancer.

“Today, my ability to envision myself in a classroom teaching what I love most—the English language, including argumentation, rhetoric, and critical thinking—has helped me to maintain a 3.8 GPA at UC San Diego. I will give back to my community by bringing the humanities into a classroom, which will allow me to promote critical thinking and the cultural implications of literature.”

As a Bebe and Marvin Zigman Scholar, Jose will be able to continue his third and final year at UC San Diego as a transfer student. He is very grateful to the donors. He credits and thanks those who have supported him throughout his academic career, including his mother, family, former professors and staff members at Southwestern College and UC San Diego, other mentors and friends. The encouragement and the academic reinforcement that Jose has experienced in the classroom inspires him to be part of the community of teachers who dedicate their career to nurturing the human mind and, consequently, making a difference in the lives of students.

Jose Luis Arellano