In a historic shift, Latinos are the leading group of prospective freshmen accepted into the University of California for fall 2020, part of the system’s largest and most diverse first-year class ever admitted, it was reported Friday.

Latinos slightly eclipsed Asian Americans for the first time, making up 36% of the 79,953 California students offered admission, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing preliminary data released Thursday. Asians made up 35%, whites 21% and Black students 5%. The rest were American Indians, Pacific Islanders or those who declined to state their race or ethnicity. About 44% of admitted students were low-income while 45% were the first in their families to attend a four-year university.

Overall, the UC system’s nine undergraduate campuses — including UCLA, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Riverside — offered admission to a record number of students: 119,054 freshmen, up from 108,178 last year, according to the data. The campuses also admitted 28,074 transfer students from the California Community Colleges system.

“This has been an incredibly challenging time as many students have been making their college decision in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said UC President Janet Napolitano in remarks quoted by The Times. “UC continues to see increased admissions of underrepresented students as we seek to educate a diverse student body of future leaders. The incoming class will be one of our most talented and diverse yet, and UC is proud to invite them to join us.”

UC Berkeley led all campuses in boosting admission offers to underrepresented minorities, accepting the largest number of Black and Latino students in three decades, more than a 40% increase over last year, The Times reported. The increase reflects an intensified push by the one of the nation*s premier public research universities to open its doors more widely to students of diverse racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds. Berkeley also admitted more students who are low-income, lack immigration status or are the first in their families to attend college.

Roberto Salazar is heading to UC Irvine as one of the 28,662 California Latino students admitted to UC’s fall freshman class, The Times reported. The Los Angeles High graduate migrated to Los Angeles from El Salvador at age 10 and did not speak English. He had no idea what college was and had no role models to adjust his perception that manual labor was the best way to earn a living. He got failing middle school grades.

But dedicated teachers and an inspiring biography he read about families that fought cancer convinced him “there’s more to life than being a bad student,” he told The Times. He buckled down in high school, earned a 3.98 GPA and was selected as the class valedictorian. At Irvine, he plans to major in psychology.

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