Estefania Sinay Pacheco poses in front of a vibrant mural.
UC Davis student Estefania Sinay Pacheco says of her drive, “Everything I do is for all those people who weren’t able to have the same opportunities that I have.” Courtesy photo

Aggie Hero: Estefania Sinay Pacheco

Fewer than 3 percent of former foster youth graduate from a four-year college, according to the National Foster Youth Institute. Estefania Sinay Pacheco is defying those odds – and she’s working to help others do the same. (She uses Sinay as her last name.)

When she’s not studying or working, she’s inspiring foster youth, first-generation and undocumented students to succeed.

Sinay knows what a difference a little support can make. As a new student at UC Davis, she remembers feeling lost and unfamiliar with the higher education landscape. She credits the Guardian Scholars Program, a great mentor, family and friends for helping her to excel.

Now, as a Guardian Scholars Program ambassador, she speaks with former foster youth about the benefits of higher education.

She volunteered at the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center, helping undocumented high school students understand laws and policies, and connecting them with resources to help them pursue college.

When asked what motivates her, Sinay reflects on her high school years. That’s when she lived in Mexico for two years and worked in a shoe factory. She recalls seeing very young children working in shops and selling merchandise on the streets, and imagining many of them would never finish high school or college.

“Everything I do is for all those people who weren’t able to have the same opportunities that I have.”

Not only did she graduate in December, this double-major in English and Chicana/Chicano studies was recognized in 2019 as a Forbes Under 30 Scholar.

Next, Sinay plans to pursue an MBA program at Harvard, but she’s not done supporting others. She wants to help guide first-gen graduates into the workforce and to educate other young people about financial literacy.