VIP Scholars was established in 2006 in response to the declining number of underrepresented students admitted and enrolled at competitive four-year universities. In collaboration with key stakeholders at UCLA, this intervention was designed to prepare high school students from underrepresented backgrounds for admissions to competitive four-year universities such as UCLA, through counseling, mentoring, student leadership, academic advising, and summer residential programs.

UCLA’s Vice Provost Initiative for Pre-College (VIP) Scholars Program’s is a partnership between UCLA and the Los Angeles and Pasadena school districts to help prepare historically underrepresented students become competitively eligible for eligible for baccalaureate work at the University of California and other flagship universities, and to encourage pursuit of graduate and professional education. Once admitted, VIPS students are eligible to receive support from two federally funded programs designed to increase the number of underserved students committed to pursuing graduate studies. Once at UCLA, VIP Scholars will participate in AAP and be eligible for 4-year $20,000 scholarships administered by the Vice Provost. They will also be eligible candidates for UCLA’s successful federally funded programs, Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) and McNair. These programs prepare undergraduates for graduate studies. Historically all MARC and McNair students, most from underrepresented populations, have graduated from UCLA, and 89% have been admitted to graduate studies and earn advanced degrees. UCLA-VIP Scholars will provide an early outreach and academic program for these national programs.

Program costs for VIP Scholars have been underwritten by generous support from UCLA Extension.


The mission of this program is to prepare historically underrepresented students in 10 high schools to become competitively eligible for admission to UCLA and other flagship universities, and to encourage pursuit of graduate and professional education, using a social justice framework and holistic approach.

VIP Scholars: Services

  • College –Prep Workshops
  • Buddy Day (high schools students shadow UCLA students for a day)
  • College Advising
  • UC Application and Personal Statement Assistance
  • Parent Information Nights
  • Summer Programs
  • Saturday Academies
  • Mentorship to High School Students
  • Leadership opportunities for high school students in VIP Scholars Clubs
  • Financial Aid and Scholarship Awareness
  • Opportunities for students to learn about graduate and professional schools
  • Student Research Opportunities

The UCLA-VIP Scholars Program includes an academic-year program and a residential summer program. The VIPS Program is now preparing to enter its sixth year of hosting an academic residential summer programs for 60 tenth and eleventh grade high school students from underrepresented backgrounds. The two-week and five-week residential summer program provides students with a unique opportunity to take academic courses at UCLA with a social justice agenda incorporated throughout every aspect of the summer program.
The summer program is a small component of the overall services VIP Scholars provides throughout the year. During the academic year, VIP Scholars services 10 different high schools by bridging the gap between higher education and urban schools. Several events are offered to introduce prospective students to academic life at UCLA; these include:

  • Individual Academic Assessments-mentors advise students on course selection and assess current academic standing, strategize ways to improve academic profile
  • Parent College Nights-equip parents with college knowledge
  • Parent and Student Saturday Academies- includes workshops focused on central themes and issues surrounding access to higher education, parents and student receive assistance in preparing for college as well as graduate/professional schools
  • Professional Development for the school counselors
  • Bruin Buddy Day- high school students shadow a UCLA student through their day-to-day schedules to provide students with a real-life college experience
  • College Application & Financial Aid Workshops
  • Academic & Culturally Relevant Workshops
  • Provide Leadership Opportunities through Student Clubs

VIP Scholars Parent Nights

Parent Nights were coordinated in response to several high school counselors¹ discontent with the low levels of parental involvement at their schools. The VIP Scholars Program took action and developed new strategies to attract parents to school sponsored events. The VIP Scholars Program collaborates with school counselors to host College Nights for students and parents at 11 high schools. Parent Night topics include:

  • Learn how to get your child admitted to college
  • Learn how to pay for college (financial aid/scholarships)
  • Hear about campus life from UCLA students
  • Meet UCLA students, faculty, staff and alumni
  • Find out about services provided to you and your family by UCLA¹s VIP Scholars Program

VIP Scholars Buddy Days

Buddy Days are unique opportunities for high school students to experience being a UCLA student for a day. Each high school student is paired with a UCLA student within their field of interest. They shadow UCLA students throughout their daily schedules to provide students with a realistic view of college life. Students tour the campus, attend courses, visit the residential halls, and get their individual questions answered from UCLA students. In addition to providing students with a glimpse of college life at UCLA, the VIP Scholars Program also organizes UC application workshops to make students and counselors aware of important deadlines, course and exam requirements, and suggestions for personal statements.

Students who attend Buddy Days are predominately low-income, first-generation, African American students from underserved communities in Los Angeles and Pasadena, California. For many of the students, the program not only disseminates information regarding the college admissions process and exposes students to UCLA, but also ensures a higher pool of underrepresented applicants to UCLA.

Twenty five to thirty high school students are selected from a pool of eligible students nominated by their schools to participate in VIP Scholars. Participants begin the program in the spring semester of the 10th grade and have the opportunity to engage in numerous workshops, programs and events throughout their high school years. Program costs for VIP Scholars have been underwritten by generous grants from HSBC, the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation and the Ahmanson Foundation.

Highlights of the summer program include a two-week residential program during the summer preceding the 11th grade and a five-week residential program during the summer preceding the 12th grade. Students live in UCLA residence halls and participate in well-supervised programs, which include taking college-level courses for credit, participating in SAT prep course as well as science/math course during the 2-week program, as well as a range of social and cultural activities.

Pasadena Unified School District

John Muir High School

Marshall Fundamental High School

Pasadena High School

Los Angeles Unified School District

Crenshaw High School

Dorsey High School

Hamilton High School

King-Drew Magnet School


Rancho Dominguez High School

Westchester High School

The VIP Scholars Program provides mentors at 10 high schools in Los Angeles and Pasadena Unified School Districts. Mentors are current UCLA students who:

  • Motivate students to consider UCLA for undergraduate and graduate careers
  • Share their personal experiences as UCLA students
  • Increase awareness regarding admissions, program opportunities and financial aid
  • Assist in increasing the number of underrepresented (primarily African American) students eligible, applying, and admitted to UCLA

Lead Staff

Dr. Jonli Tunstall
VIP Scholars Director
1218 Campbell Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7176

Ashley Williams
Assistant Director
1218 Campbell Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7176

Support Staff

Alia Little
Office Assistant
1218 Campbell Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7176

Logan Patton
Office Assistant
1218 Campbell Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7176

Mentor Staff

Tiara Latimer

Miguel Claros Jr.

William Plata-Cortez

Jekara Govan

Jerzy Messan

Ariel Taylor

Ariel Mengistu

Jordyn Davis

Taylore Thomas

Malaijah Thompson


Eryn Jones

Jason Anderson