Teen to leave Boyle Heights to study among the educational elite

Even among the super achievers graduating Tuesday from the Stern Math & Science School, where 127 out of this year’s 131 seniors are headed to college,  Ofelia Carrillo of Boyle Heights stands out.  Raised primarily by her mother, a Mexican immigrant who sells beauty supplies, Carrillo was accepted to such prestigious colleges as Amherst, Brown, NYU, Smith,  UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego and Wellesley. The 18-year-old  passed over those schools to attend to Williams College, a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts,  on a Gates Millennium Scholarship.  The road to college, however, means leaving mom, who also raised four other children.  Carrillo, in an interview with school spokesman, said of her mother:

“She never had the opportunity for even a grade school education. She’d tell me, ‘I don’t ask for you to clean, I don’t ask for you to wash your clothes. I just want you to get a college degree. That’s all I want.'”

Click on the link below to read a brief Q&A with Carrillo conducted by an official with Alliance for College Ready Schools, which operates Stern and other charter schools:

Q: What are you going  study in college?

A: I have a lot of interests, so I’m not really sure what I want to major in yet. But I know I want to take gender studies, political science courses, philosophy and Latin American studies.

Q: What career do you plan to pursue?

A: “Right now I’m leaning toward law, but I feel like college is the place where I’m going to discover my academic interests.

Q: Why did you choose Williams?

A: The campus is absolutely beautiful, and there are so many opportunities to do research in any field you want … Williams is a reflection of the experience I had in high school. I felt like it was me.”


  1. Congrats, girl! Make the most of your college years and don’t forget where you came from. Your roots will give you an amazing perspective!

  2. That is AWESOME. As a college administrator and a first generation HS and college graduate…you go!

  3. Woot! Woot! You go girl! See what the world has to offer. It’s an amazing place. If you ever get ‘home sick’ head into Chelsea (north of Logan Airport – via the T) and you will find a mini-Boyle Heights =-) Puro barrio y taquerias.
    Roosevelt High – Class of ’86!

  4. you are a true example of the american dream, keep on, young lady:)

  5. Damn OFelia!! ur getting famous!!
    Congrats n good luck, not that you’ll need it to succeed. Remember LOL
    this is both by ur own free will… or is this by fatE?

  6. Thank you for all the great comments. After a year of hard work its been an amazing journey and I’m currently interning for Cityhood for East LA! I will never forget where I came from and what community produced me and my will to fight for justice!

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