Finding the American Dream in Irvine

Finding the American Dream in Irvine

May 2, 2022

This year, IPSF celebrates our 25th anniversary of supporting the educational experience of each child in every school in the Irvine Unified School District. We are so proud to support such an amazing educational community and are seeking to commemorate exciting achievements from IUSD students and alumni through our Profiles in Excellence Showcase.

Profile in Excellence: Alejandra Hu

Dedicated teachers and amazing educational opportunities have the power to profoundly change the course of a child’s life. Alejandra Hu came from humble beginnings in a rural part of Mexico where education was minimal. Alejandra and her mother immigrated to Irvine in 1981, when orange groves were plenty and Irvine was in its initial stages of being built. Her mother was in search of the American Dream and to provide her daughter with a quality education that could open doors to endless possibilities.

“We struggled together, building a life in a new country and a new city, with no education and very little financial support. In fact, we came here with nothing, just a little less than $100 dollars in our pockets,” explains Alejandra. “My mother was a live-in housekeeper for a family, and I was lucky to have the opportunity to live with her and attend Irvine schools. Although we had a place to live, it was not our home, and this feeling of discomfort was a continuous reminder of how important it was to pursue my education.”

When she began school at Alderwood Basics Plus as an English language learner, Alejandra remembers feeling fear, not knowing where she was going, but excited about all the possibilities.

“I had a tough time fitting in, and I struggled. But with hard work, I acquired the English language, and I joined Honors classes at Lakeside, and AP classes at Woodbridge. I was so lucky to have programs, teachers, and aids that supported my learning development and brought out my talents,” said Alejandra.

Alejandra loved art. She participated in the school district’s art programs like “Meet the Masters.” It was one of her favorite opportunities to express herself, and where she truly excelled. Through this program, her work was displayed at the Laguna Arts Festival, and later in high school, she went on to receive an art scholarship that was presented to her by the mayor.

Alejandra was also a gifted athlete, but she could only afford to compete in sports that were free to join. She received an opportunity to compete in the Irvine Junior Games where she set records. This sparked her journey as a Track and Field athlete at Woodbridge, where she went on to graduate in 1997 as Orange County Champion in the 400 meters and was flown to the State Track & Field meet by her high school. This special opportunity opened the door to several colleges that recruited Alejandra, and she became the first in her family to attend college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a full athletic scholarship.

These accolades did not come easily. In addition to struggling financially, Alejandra had learning challenges, and in second grade, she became deaf and hard of hearing in her left ear due to lack of medical attention and an infection that damaged her hearing to the point of deafness. However, she never let these obstacles stand in her way.

“I have always had to work harder to succeed. But I have never let any challenges stand in my way. ” said Alejandra. “I am most grateful for the education I received here in Irvine. Had it not been for the rigor, the extracurricular programs, and the loving support of my teachers who never stopped believing in me, even when I did not believe in myself, I would not have had a chance to become the hard-working athlete, mother, and career woman I am today. This is everything I dreamed of. This is my American Dream.”

Alejandra is an inspiring example of overcoming adversity, and how great schools and caring educators can help shape a student’s future.

Do you know an amazing IUSD student? Share your proudest stories of educational excellence for a chance to be featured. Click to view all our amazing IPSF  25th Anniversary Profiles in Excellence