Transferring into CSU and UC: Roadblocks and Solutions

Too few community college students transfer to the state’s public universities. Even fewer transfer within the expected two years. Although there has been progress to make the transfer process seamless, problems remain.

During this roundtable, panelists discussed the challenges and barriers facing community college students today as they prepare to transfer to University of California and California State University campuses as well as proposed solutions and the supports currently available to help students navigate the process.

Read more about this roundtable.

Please scroll down for more information about the panelists.



Marjorie Blen

San Francisco State University student studying sociology

Marjorie Blen is the Lead Project Coordinator at Students Making a Change. As a student of color, she has been directly impacted by the structural barriers that our educational systems create for students like her. She has spoken to student, faculty, administrator, and legislator audiences across the state, working on issues such as reforming remedial education, funding the real cost of college, supporting student parents and non-traditional-aged students, and more. Her advocacy was instrumental in the passage of Assembly Bill 705 regulations. In May 2020, Blen graduated from City College of San Francisco. She is currently attending San Francisco State University majoring in Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justice.

April Grommo

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Services | California State University

Dr. April Grommo currently serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Services at the California State University (CSU) Office of the Chancellor. She is responsible for systemwide admissions, enrollment management, financial aid, outreach and recruitment, transfer programs, and registration and records policy and practices.

 Before joining the CSU Chancellor’s Office, Ms. Grommo served in leadership positions in information technology and student services in higher education– including Sierra-Cedar – Higher Education Practice, California State University San Marcos, National University, and Palomar Community College.

Dr. Grommo was the first in her family to graduate from college and received her Educational Leadership Doctorate from UCSD in 2014, where she focused on social networks of underrepresented community college transfer students.

Audrey Dow

Senior Vice President | The Campaign for College Opportunity

Audrey Dow is the Senior Vice President of The Campaign for College Opportunity, a California-based policy and research organization that ensures more students go to college and succeed. She has broad responsibilities for co-leading the organizations’ strategic direction, robust research agenda, and for leading strategic media, communications and coalition building efforts. Audrey is a sought-after expert on issues of college access, success, affordability and racial equity speaking regularly at state and national convenings.

She often contributes and is quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, Politico, The Atlantic and National Public Radio. Audrey has over twenty years of experience in the public and nonprofit sectors where she has trained Latinas to take on leadership roles in the public sector while working at Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) and served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

Dow’s career has been focused on finding solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the state of California including access and success in higher education, an aging infrastructure system, racial inclusion in hiring, contracting and university admissions, and ensuring underrepresented groups in the state have a seat at policy-making tables. Audrey has a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Policy and Management from the University of Southern California and a Masters in Public Affairs with an emphasis in Domestic Policy, and a certificate in Urban Policy, from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

She was appointed in 2019 by Governor Gavin Newsom to the Health Professions Education Foundation Board of Directors. She is also serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for a Better Community. Previously Dow has served on the CA Student Aid Commission Cal Grant Modernization Workgroup, the Technical Advisory Committee for the California Future Health Workforce Commission, and was the California State Senate’s appointee to the Awards for Innovation in Higher Education Committee.

Audrey resides in Hacienda Heights with her husband Stephen and four children, Isabella, Alexandra, Rocco and Brody.

Marty J. Alvarado

Executive Vice Chancellor of Educational Services | California Community Colleges

Marty J. Alvarado provides leadership and support for the academic affairs and student services programs. In this role, she is responsible for agency-wide policies and programs related to student support, instructional delivery and curriculum with the aim of increasing student success rates and closing achievement gaps.

Prior to joining the Chancellor’s Office team in 2019, Alvarado provided support for scaling up regional cross-sector partnerships and state systems engaged in large-scale transformation. This work focused on building regional ecosystems to support pathways to college and career success and economic advancement across the state. With nearly 20 years of experience in higher education and the community college system, Alvarado brings an expertise in program development and implementation, community engagement and partnerships, industry engagement and work-based learning, and has served as a director for learning communities and workforce training.

Executive Vice Chancellor Alvarado received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Whittier College and a master of arts in philosophy and cultural analysis from the Universiteit van Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Dale Leaman

Executive Director of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions | UC Irvine

Dale Leaman is the executive director of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. In this role, Dale oversees and provides leadership for all aspects of undergraduate admissions, including outreach, recruitment, evaluation, and enrollment. He supports the goals of the university to attract high-achieving, talented and accomplished students. He is committed to an admissions process that treats each applicant as an individual, maintains the highest ethical standards, adheres to University policy, and demonstrates best practices as established in the greater admission community. Dale has served nearly 25 years at UCI and he has more than 40 years of experience in a wide variety of positions in education, including coach, teacher, consultant, data architect, business analyst and manager.

Han Mi Yoon-Wu

Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions | University of California

Han Mi Yoon-Wu (she/her) has worked in admissions at the University of California Office of the President for the last 21 years and became the chief admissions officer for the UC system in 2018. During her tenure at UC, she has played a vital role developing and implementing admissions policies for the University of California and provided leadership on several technology projects.

As a first generation college graduate, she has dedicated her professional career to promoting access to higher education for students from all walks of life. Ms. Yoon-Wu holds degrees from Drake University and Stanford University.

Ashley A. Smith

Panel moderator; Higher Education Reporter | EdSource

Ashley A. Smith covers higher education and other student success reforms for EdSource. She joined the publication in July 2019 after covering community colleges, for-profit schools and non-traditional students for Inside Higher Ed, in Washington D.C. Her work has appeared in the Fort Myers News-Press, the Marshfield News-Herald, The Flint Journal, USA Today and the Detroit Free Press. Ashley grew up in Detroit and is a 2008 graduate of Michigan State University.

Michael Burke

Panel moderator; Higher Education Reporter | EdSource

Michael Burke covers higher education. Prior to joining EdSource, Michael was a political reporter at The Hill in Washington, D.C.. He received a B.A. in journalism from Syracuse University. He won first place nationally in the in-depth reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists 2018 Mark of Excellence awards for his series on corporate influence at Syracuse University, published in The Daily Orange.

Anne Vasquez

Panel moderator; Executive Director | EdSource

Anne Vasquez took the helm as EdSource’s Executive Director in May 2021. Previously, she served as Director of Content and Strategic Initiatives at EdSource. In that role, she helped shape editorial strategy, grow partnerships and expand the organization’s footprint throughout California. Prior to joining EdSource, Anne was an executive at Tribune Publishing, where she most recently served as Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Chief Digital Officer. She previously was the Managing Editor of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Anne began her career at The Miami Herald and the San Jose Mercury News, where she was an education reporter and later an editor.