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Antonio Plascencia ’06 Plants Seeds of Hope in High School Students

Antonio at graduationAs a child, Antonio Plascencia ’06, Chicano studies and political science major, didn’t think going to college was an option for him. However, after participating in Upward Bound, an organization that prepares underrepresented high school students for college, his thoughts about his future dramatically changed.

“Coming from a family of immigrants, no one ever told me I had the potential, much less the means, to go to college,” Plascencia said. “But knowing that people believed in me provided the trigger to push myself and make something of my life.”

After graduating high school, Plascencia pursued a university that was student-centered and where he could excel academically as well as pursue his interest in spirituality.

“LMU was it. Where else could I find a university that allowed me to establish friendships with my professors and participate in so many service opportunities?” Plascencia said.

As a recipient of a Mexican American Alumni Association (MAAA) scholarship and as a MAAA Henry Cisneros Scholar, Plascencia was able to take advantage of LMU’S many opportunities rather than worrying about how he was going to be able to pay for his education

“Receiving the scholarships gave me the financial security I needed to get involved with my community and make the most out of my education,” Plascencia said.

Plascencia put his education into action by being involved in many social justice activities. He participated as a mentor for El Espejo (The Mirror), an after-school mentoring program for high-risk Lennox Middle School students, and helped organized a march in support of the equal rights of local hotel workers. Also, in summer 2004, Plascencia interned at Pro-Peru, a nongovernmental organization that educates poor families and the indigenous people of Peru on ways to develop fiscally independent.

In fall 2006, Plascencia was accepted into University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies. However, he postponed his attendance for one year to serve as a mentor for Upward Bound at four local high schools in the Los Angeles area.

“The Upward Bound program reshaped and defined what my career will look like,” Plascencia said. “It’s an honor to give back the encouragement I received to the future generations.”

Plascencia’s work now has come full circle. One of the students he mentored, Adan Duarte, enrolled as a freshman at LMU in fall ’07. Duarte received a leadership scholarship, a Dell scholarship and other financial assistance.

“Adan was a reflection of the student I was, and he used all the knowledge I gave him,” Plascencia said. “Seeing him start LMU made the whole experience worth it to me.”

Plascencia plans to pursue a career in public policy, but no matter where his life takes him, LMU will always hold fond memories for him.

“I will always consider LMU home,” Plascencia said. “The university made me the man I am today.”