LOS ANGELES — University of California President Mark G. Yudof brought a message of access and aspiration to more than 1,000 students in a rally at Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles today (Oct. 17).

Joined by school leaders and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Yudof said, "No matter your race, your background, your income or your immigration status, UC welcomes all who make the grade."

Yudof was invited to speak at the state's largest high school by Los Angeles Unified School District Board (LAUSD) President Monica Garcia, a UC Berkeley graduate who introduced him and later said she believed he was the first UC president to address Roosevelt students.

Mayor Villaraigosa recalled his own challenges as a Roosevelt High School alumnus who went on to graduate from UCLA. He led the assembled students in a rousing chant of "I believe in me" at the conclusion of the program after LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy urged them to work hard to "get to and through" college.

Roosevelt High School is one of 22 LAUSD schools managed by the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, founded in 2007 as the cornerstone of Mayor Villaraigosa's strategy to improve education in Los Angeles.

"The promise has been that in California, there would be a spot in college for anybody willing to work to get there, whether it be a community college, a California State University campus or one of the 10 campuses of the University of California," Yudof said. "Now, at the University of California, our end of the bargain is to make sure we keep the doors of opportunity wide open. And we are doing all we can to keep those doors wide open."

Yudof told the students that, if they meet UC requirements, including successful completion of 15 UC-required courses, and rank in the top 9 percent of their graduating class at Roosevelt, they will be on the path to the University of California.

He added that UC's Blue & Gold Opportunity Plan ensures that financial obstacles won't stand in the way of a UC education.

"If your family's income is under $80,000 and you qualify for financial aid, then the Blue & Gold plan ensures that you will pay nothing in tuition to attend the University of California," he said. "You still need living expenses, but there are additional scholarships available."

He noted that 40 percent of this year's freshman class are the first in their families to go to a four-year university, more than half of UC students come from homes where English is a second language, and 40 percent come from low-income families.

"Remember," he said, "you are rich in what matters — in self-respect, in dignity, in community pride, in having a strong work ethic, and in having families and mentors who believe in you and want the best for your futures."

The UC president's visit to Roosevelt High School was the latest in a series of California high school appearances intended to encourage students to aim for a college education and dream big.