UCSB’s ÉXITO Program Graduates Third Cohort of Future Ethnic Studies Teachers Amidst Rising Attacks on Ethnic Studies

Michelle Ramos Ramirez ’24 (Courtesy)

By Debra Herrick

In Spanish, “éxito” means success. At UC Santa Barbara, ÉXITO stands for Educational eXcellence and Inclusion Training Opportunities, a first of its kind program in the UC system that provides students with a clearly structured pathway to becoming K-12 Ethnic Studies teachers. Funded by a $3 million U.S. Department of Education Title V grant, the program’s third cohort is now graduating.

Their commencement comes at a crucial moment, said Ingrid Banks, an associate professor of Black studies and a member of the program’s core faculty.

“The ÉXITO program at UCSB is exponentially important today as the attacks on ethnic studies escalate,” said Banks. “In training future ethnic studies teachers and current teachers invested in centering ethnic studies in their curriculum, the ÉXITO program provides a necessary social justice intervention within primary schooling.”

Designed for highly motivated students, the undergraduate program serves as a pipeline to earning a bachelor’s degree in one of the UCSB’s ethnic studies departments or in feminist studies and to applying to a master’s degree in education and a teaching credential program.

The program’s core faculty hail from the departments of Asian American studies, Black studies, Chicana and Chicano studies, and the Girvetz Graduate School of Education. They work with the ÉXITO team, led by co-directors Professor Rebeca Mireles-Rios and Professor Lisa Sun-Hee Park, associate director Adanari Zarate Ph.D. ‘20 and graduate student researchers.

“On behalf of the ÉXITO team, congratulations to our graduating scholars,” said Zarate. “Thank you for the contributions you have made to our program and campus. We look forward to the amazing things you will do for the field of education and student communities. Always remember your ‘why.’”

Clockwise from top left: Cailey Angeles Larmore ’24; Eduardo “Eddie” Vázquez ’24; Michelle Ramos Ramirez ’24 and Juan Rivera Garnica ’24 (Courtesy)

Michelle Ramos Ramirez ’24

A “proud product” of unincorporated East Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District, Ramos Ramirez is earning her B.A. in Chicanx studies with a minor in educational studies. She will continue her research and training in ethnic studies education in UCLA’s master’s and teacher education program. Despite the challenges of transitioning to UCSB as a first generation college student, she said, she “found solace and inspiration within her ÉXITO cohort — a community of resistance that fuels her transformative vision for the future.”

Cailey Angeles Larmore ’24

Larmore, who uses they/them pronouns, is graduating with a B.A. in Asian American studies with distinction in the major, and a B.S. in psychological and brain sciences. During their time at UCSB, they were active in FIERCE Outreach, Kapatirang Pilipino and the Asian American Studies Department. Larmore will pursue their dual teaching credential and master’s degree in education at UC Berkeley.

Among the highlights of Larmore’s experience at UCSB were: “being part of the executive board for FIERCE Outreach, meeting my now partner through a creative writing class in Asian American Studies, my partner and I independently deciding to become part of ÉXITO at the same time, getting to do research under my favorite professor in Asian American studies, attending the drag shows put on by TQComm, and playing mahjong with my friends.”

Eduardo “Eddie” Vázquez ’24  

A double major in Chicanx studies and sociology from North East Los Angeles, Vázquez, who uses they/them pronouns, served on the outreach board of UCSB’s SexInfo OnCampus; served on the Students for Reproductive Justice board and as a grader for SOC 152A (Human Sexuality). Additionally, they have worked with Orientation Programs during summer and as the resident assistant for the undergraduate apartments queer community, Lavender Living. After graduation, Vazquez will return to Los Angeles for UCLA’s Teacher Education Program and to pursue a master’s degree in education with a specialization in ethnic studies.

Juan Rivera Garnica ’24

Rivera Garnica is graduating as a double major in Chicana/o studies and film and media studies. He is originally from Mexico but was raised in Los Angeles after moving to the U.S. He will pursue his master’s degree and credential in the Teacher Education Program at UCLA this fall, hoping to become a high school social studies teacher with a focus on ethnic studies.

ÉXITO participants Amelie Calderon, Stephanie Pantoja, Riechal “Riqui” Martínez and Evelyn Giraldo also completed the program and will be taking a gap year before continuing towards their teaching degrees.


Written by UCSBTheCurrent

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  1. University courses with the word “studies” in the title are generally of little use in the job market. Yet the schools keep selling them. Now the way the fast-food industry is changing, graduates with those degrees won’t even have that employment option…

    • ANON – true, but in reality, a 4 year degree in any subject doesn’t do much on its own. Grad school is really the only way to ensure you’re using what you studied in school in an actual job. Well, except maybe an art degree?

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