Soleil Delgadillo is a 2009 Bruin alumnus who did not let her journey with service end at UCLA. Soleil’s experience with youth and education paved the way to a career and life dedicated to service. While at UCLA, she participated in several programs that promote higher education to underserved communities. These experiences helped her become the inspiring counselor to current and former foster youth that she is today.
Soleil’s passion for helping others through counseling began in high school, where she served as a peer counselor for her fellow students at Narbonne High School in Harbor City, California. Her experience at Narbonne High taught her the impact of small actions on a person’s education. Soleil went on to attend UCLA, where she double majored in Sociology and Women’s Studies (now Gender Studies) and was an active intern for students at Hamilton High School. At UCLA, she began working with youth through UCLA’s Community Service Commision organization Project Bruins Reforming Incarceration Through Education (Project B.R.I.T.E). Project B.R.I.T.E. helps incarcerated youth break the cycle of recidivism through weekly mentoring and tutoring, empowering mentees with the tools to become positive role models in their communities.
These experiences cultivated her passion to serve and motivated her to pursue a Master’s degree at California State University, Long Beach with an emphasis in School Counseling. Upon receiving her Master’s in 2011, Soleil wanted to work for a non-profit organization that could utilize her passion for counseling to serve marginalized communities. She found her match working as a College Counselor with United Friends of the Children, an organization that empowers current and former foster youth on their journey to self-sufficiency through service-enriched education and housing programs.
When asked to describe her day, she replied that every day is different and always rewarding. She works one-on-one with over 30 students to meet their needs at home, school, and weekend workshops. Her primary responsibility is providing socio-emotional and educational counseling for students to help them overcome academic and personal challenges to be college ready. Soleil says, “It feels so great knowing that these kids have a light at the end of the tunnel, to have a responsible adult that cares about them.” Soleil is committed to long term investment in the students’ potential.
In addition to counseling, Soleil serves as Scholarship Chair on the board of the UCLA Latino Alumni Association. In this position, she focuses on providing culturally based networking and employment opportunities for recent graduates, finding potential scholarship donors, and recruiting volunteers to assist with reading and interviewing incoming freshman. Soleil is also an active volunteer, having participated in programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters, LA Works, and even the UCLA Volunteer Center’s own One Bus, One Cause program! By identifying her passion for service at such a young age, Soleil was able to gain experience, build valuable skills, and offer her knowledge to help the greater good.
Read a few of Soleil’s thoughts on service:
- “Make sure you contribute back to society. If everyone would give an hour, imagine how much better our world would be! The benefits are endless…”
- “Once you volunteer once, you get addicted. It becomes a part of who you are and what you do.”
- “I wish I would’ve done more, but it’s never too late to start volunteering- as an alumni [etc.]. Don’t be afraid to start [volunteering], as long as you start at some point.”
Interested in volunteering in a way similar to Soleil? Here is how you can get started:
- United Friends of the Children partners with the UCLA Guardian Scholars Program, which provides resources to UCLA students who are current or former foster youth.
- Learn more about Project B.R.I.T.E. and how you can become a part of the team!
- United Friends of the Children is always looking for volunteers, especially for Saturday workshops and career panels. Employment opportunities may also be available.
- Become a “Big”, Junior Partner or Volunteer with Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters