‘It’s Never Too Late to Learn … Even For Me’

When Emily Wang moved from China to California with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, she knew just one person in this country. Settling near Los Angeles, Wang worked as a restaurant cashier and contemplated options for her future. Learning English was key, so she enrolled in ESL classes at El Camino College in Torrance. A counselor told her about transferring to a four-year university. Wang was 34 at the time, with a first-grader in tow. “They told me it’s never too late to learn,” she said. “I thought, ‘Wow, really? Even for me?’” With assistance from the Center for Community College Partnerships, she successfully transferred to UCLA and will graduate this spring with a bachelor of arts in public affairs from the Luskin School. The process of applying to the UC system also stoked her desire to pursue policy work, as she discovered that she was technically an undocumented immigrant. The family had come to the U.S. legally, applied for asylum and had work permits. But eight years have passed, and Wang has had no updates about her case since she and her husband separated during the pandemic. “I thought, since I’m stuck in this situation, I’m going to use my undocumented identity as my strength to advocate,” she says. “We need more support systems to help undocumented immigrants who are already here, like my daughter.” Now 40 and a single parent, Wang plans to continue her work in political advocacy and — when her daughter, now 11, is a bit older — return to school for a law degree.

Read the full story about Emily Wang as well as other transfer students across the UC system.


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *