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Students Lobby for Financial Aid at State Capitol

Herrera and Izizarry 2Loyola Marymount University student representatives Julianna Herrera ‘11 and Nerissa Irizarry ‘11 met with state legislators in Sacramento to lobby for the continued renewal of Cal Grants on March 13.

The large number of students and college administrators present for Cal Grant Day, sponsored by the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, was a surprise to Herrera and Irizarry. But, Herrera noted, it was not the size of the event that caused her concern.

“I was worried that the representatives we would be meeting with would not be interested in hearing my story,” she said. “I'm glad to say that was hardly the case.”

An art history and history double major, Herrera grew up in Marina del Rey, and dreamed about going to school at the beautiful campus on the bluff. She noted that without the Cal Grant, her LMU education may not have been possible.

Irizarry also would not have been able to attend LMU without the Cal Grant award. The transfer student said that the aid gave her options on where to go to school.

“By receiving the Cal Grant amount reserved for private universities, I was able to have choices in the university I wanted to attend,” she said. “It allowed me to attend the school I wanted to, not just the one I could afford.”

Irizarry hopes to pursue a career in law and noted that her experience at Cal Grant Day has motivated her to defend and lobby for important issues such as student rights.

Kristen Rivas ’04, assistant director of counseling and outreach, was among the staff representatives from LMU’s Financial Aid Office that accompanied the students on the trip. She confirmed that Cal Grants are just as important for students as they are for the state.

“We have a very economically diverse population that depends upon the Cal Grant to attend LMU. By maintaining the Cal Grant for a private institution we are able to contribute back to the California economy because 77 percent of our alumni stay in California after graduation.”

While at the Capitol, Herrerra and Irizarry met LMU alumni who work with legislators.

“This made me realize how far-reaching the LMU community is and how great of an impact our alumni are making,” Herrera said. “I was very proud to represent LMU at Cal Grant Student Lobby Day.”

Photo: (from right to left) Julianna Herrera and Nerissa Irizarry