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Meet Alex Beltran

Often, the most meaningful achievements and biggest of dreams are seldom about one individual or one journey.

For Alex Beltran, his success was as much his own as it was a way to honor all those who came before him.

When Alex first enrolled at MiraCosta College, it was far from the academic path he had originally envisioned for himself. A straight-A student for most of his schooling, Alex had big plans to attend a UC school right after his senior year, before continuing on to pursue a long and fruitful career where he could make a difference in the world.

Tragically and suddenly, those plans all came crashing down when the global pandemic came right to Alex’s doorstep. In 2021, as Alex was preparing to graduate high school, his father passed away due to COVID-19.

“It was a really dark time in my life,” shared Alex. “I was in my last semester of high school and once that happened, the last thing I wanted to do was continue my education.”

Alex recalled, “Even though my dad’s wish was for me to get my college degree, I couldn’t help but feel like that dream died when he died. To add insult to injury, this was around the same time I found out I hadn’t been accepted to any of the universities that I wanted to attend.”

Initially, Alex left high school to mourn his father and didn’t have set plans to return.

It was a time of profound sorrow and self-doubt for Alex. Slowly, however, Alex regained his courage and despite the immense pain and heartache, Alex returned to finish his remaining high school assignments and exams.

“It took time, but I realized that my dad wouldn’t have wanted me to stop my education,” said Alex. “I knew I needed to take the initiative and find a new path to college.”

The youngest of three siblings, Alex knew about community college because they had once attended classes locally. Even though they didn’t graduate, Alex heard positive things and started to explore this as a pathway toward his larger goals. After talking with his high school counselor, his mind was made up.

Alex decided to attend MiraCosta College and take advantage of the Transfer Alliance Program (TAP) that provides community college graduates with a clear path to one of California’s public universities. At the urging of his counselor, he also joined the PUENTE Program to help with the transition to community college after his father’s passing.

Shared Alex, “Joining PUENTE was one of the best decisions I made in my educational journey. Not only did I learn about what it takes to succeed academically, but I also had many opportunities to get involved in giving back to the local community.”

PUENTE, designed to support underrepresented students in their pursuit of higher education, offered Alex a space to find community with his fellow immigrant and first-generation students. It also provided critical support in the way of mentorship and scholarships to ensure Alex had all he needed to graduate.

With this support and his unending resilience, Alex's grades soared, and he was accepted into multiple prestigious universities. He soon set his sights on becoming a physician's assistant, driven by a desire to make a difference in healthcare.

Explained Alex, “After experiencing what I did with my father, I knew I wanted to have a positive impact on the health of my community. Especially in the underserved areas where healthcare access is often stigmatized.”

The once-elusive dream of attending a four-year institution became a reality, marking a major milestone in his own life, as well as in his family’s.

Today, Alex is honoring his father’s dream and starting a new chapter in his life as a cognitive science major at UC Davis, which houses one of the leading programs in the field. And his story is an inspiring reminder that even amid tragedy, adversity can be a stepping stone to greatness.

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