Oral Histories

Interview of Alberto Juarez

UCLA student activist and recruiter for the High Potential Program.
UCLA High Potential Program
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Research Centers and Programs
Biographical Note:
UCLA student activist and recruiter for the High Potential Program.
Mercado, Juan Pablo
Juarez, Alberto
Persons Present:
Juarez and Mercado.
Place Conducted:
Presbyterian Church of Pasadena in Pasadena, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Juan Pablo Mercado, graduate student interviewer, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; C.Phil., history, UCLA.Mercado prepared for the interview by consulting various primary source materials in the file on the High Potential Program (HPP) located in UCLA’s University Archives at the Charles E. Young Research Library. These materials included early proposals for the program, administrative memoranda, meeting minutes, university reports, and correspondence assessing the progress of the HPP. To contextualize the development of the program, Mercado also reviewed secondary literature on such events as the Watts rebellion of 1965, the Chicano Moratorium, the East Los Angeles Blowouts, the occupation of Alcatraz, the anti-war movement, and the numerous student-led protests and campaigns of the 1960s and 1970s. Understanding these circumstances helped put in perspective what was at stake for the people at UCLA and throughout Los Angeles and demonstrated how significant the struggle for political, economic, and social change really was.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. Juarez was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verity the accuracy of the content but made no changes.
2 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This is a series of interviews with people who were involved with the High Potential Program (HPP) at UCLA between 1968 and 1971. Although the HPP was one of the earliest efforts to broaden admissions criteria and recruit historically underrepresented students, the archival sources that have been preserved are very limited and, by and large, do not represent the views of those involved. This project attempts to capture those voices and includes not only students who were admitted to the HPP but counselors and mentors, as well as non-HPPP students who helped recruit students to the program and worked to make it a success.In 1968, the first cohort of approximately fifty black and forty-eight Chicana/o students was admitted to the High Potential Program. Subsequently the program broadened its recruitment efforts to include Asian American and Native American students as well. Although the primary aim of the HPP was to recruit students from traditionally underrepresented communities in Los Angeles, the larger hope was that these students would graduate and return to their communities as leaders and organizers. As part of its effort to prepare students for those tasks, the program developed culturally relevant curriculum for its students and thus contributed to the long-term development of ethnic studies classes and programs. The High Potential Program was a short-lived experiment: after three years of consistently diminishing funding and low graduation rates, and in the face of much protest from HPP students, it was discontinued. Different versions of the program emerged in the wake of the HPP, and the Academic Advancement Program (APP) is actually in existence to this day on campus. Yet the program’s successors focused more narrowly on traditional academic achievement, and none of them were able to replicate the HPP’s radical ideals and practices.
Family’s roots in Chihuahua, Mexico, then migration to El Paso, Texas due to the Mexican Revolution—Both maternal and paternal sides of family move to Los Angeles and are supported by Presbyterian Church—Mother and father meet and get married—Father begins to work at Todd Shipyards during WWII, then gets drafted for military service—Employment after WWII and legacy of New Deal policies—Voluntary repatriation during the Great Depression and early familial educational experiences—Experiences growing up in Central Los Angeles, then East Los Angeles—Father’s working-class sensibility, as well as committed participation in Presbyterian Church—Negative impact of father’s war experience—Familial role in church fundraising and stewardship.
Familial educational experiences and political influences—Fathers’ military experience and attitudes towards a college education—Debate with high school classmates regarding circumstances at Chavez Ravine—College expectations at predominantly Anglo high school—High school experiences at both Lincoln and Franklin high schools—Attends East Los Angles College and impact of Dr. Helen Miller Bailey—Formation and evolution of Mexican American Student Association (MASA)—Student group participation starts to swell—Experience as mainstream UCLA student and support of the High Potential Program (HPP)—Significance of culturally relevant curriculum in the HPP and mainstream UCLA courses—Recruitment effort in East Los Angeles for HPP students—Relationship between black and brown students at UCLA—Internal tensions between Chicano/a students—How college experience politicized many young Chicano/a students—Impact of Blowouts on UCLA campus— Military experience during the 1960s—Legacy of the High Potential Program at UCLA—Reflections on the objective of the High Potential Program.