Cristina Aguirre is the Chief Programs Officer at Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI), a nonprofit that helps underserved students be the first in their families to go to college through after school programs that begin in the third grade.

Aguirre was born in Ramona and later moved to Fresno where she lived with her parents and four siblings. At 6-years-old, she began helping her mom with the grapes that she picked as a farmworker, a task she enjoyed. Once she started middle school, Cristina was given her own row of grapes to pick and it was no longer as fun as she once thought it was – it was hard work which required kneeling for hours.

Although working in the fields was some of the most difficult times in Cristina’s life, she wouldn’t change her experience as it has made her into the person she is today. Referring to the fields, Cristina’s father would always say to her: “If you don’t get an education, here is where you will end up.” She carries those words with her to this day. After working so hard as a kid, Aguirre continued that work ethic as a teenager, becoming the first one in her family to graduate high school. She then went on to obtain a Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego, and a Masters of Education with an emphasis in school counseling from the University of San Diego. By going to college, she was able to change the trajectory of her family, and the results have showed – her younger siblings have all graduated high school and have gone on to live successful lives.

Aguirre has been at BLCI for a little over 4 years and continues to be part of the nonprofit’s success of having 100% of their students attend college.

www.blci.org