Anne Bourdet Hagata always made sure her grandchildren had all the books they needed to thrive in college—an impressive feat considering her background.
Hagata, who died in 1977, was an illegal immigrant from France, passing as the daughter of her uncle, who was a citizen. In a two-bedroom house without running water, she raised a family of five.
Three of Hagata's grandchildren, first in their family to attend college, are paying it forward with the Anne Bourdet Hagata Endowment, ensuring low-income students get needed books through the Educational Opportunity Program's lending library.
UCSC's 3,000 EOP students receive support to improve retention rates and academic success.
Valerie Simmons got her B.A. from Berkeley; Melvin Simmons got his B.A. and Ph.D. from Berkeley; and Bart Simmons got his B.A. from UC Davis and his master’s and doctorate from Berkeley.
“It wasn’t just monetary support; it was the fact that my grandmother cared so much about our education,” Valerie Simmons said. “We wanted to pass that spirit of support to students in need, especially undocumented Dream Act students.”
The Simmons siblings, with help from the UCSC Chancellor's Office’s matching grant, have launched the endowment. Simmons, former director of the campus's Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Office, understands the urgency.
"We have been working with an (EOP) student who was having a hard time getting money for food," she said. "This support can make such a difference."