Photo of brown hiking boots in the foreground and Arlyn in the background, lying on her stomach in a gray cardigan.
Arlyn Moreno Luna’s boots represent both a favorite activity — hiking — and the privilege of being able to pursue higher education. Photo by Keegan Houser.

Object Lesson: Reaching the summit one step at a time

For hikers, few things are more disappointing than huffing up a hard slope and discovering the top is not the top at all. Many an unprepared hiker has been fooled by the so-called false summit.

Arlyn Moreno Luna, an avid hiker and doctoral candidate in the Berkeley School of Education, likens the educational journey to a series of false summits. “You look at the goal, and you think you’ve reached the end, but nope,” she says with a laugh. “You have to be persistent.”

Having migrated from Mexico at age 13, Moreno Luna experienced firsthand how the U.S. educational system is not set up to teach immigrants with different levels of learning. She was forced to take a lower-level math class than what she was ready for and received little support in finding her way to college. “No wonder there aren’t more Latinx students in higher education,” she says.

“You look at the goal, and you think you’ve reached the end, but nope, you have to be persistent.” — Arlyn Moreno Luna

Moreno Luna attended community college and transferred to Oregon State University to complete her undergraduate and graduate degrees. At Berkeley, where she received the prestigious Chancellor’s Fellowship, she has turned the obstacles she faced into opportunities. Broadly, her research focuses on how first-generation and traditionally underrepresented students get to college, and what they experience once they arrive. She also mentors undergraduates interested in graduate school and serves on various committees focused on improving life at Cal for her fellow Latinx students.

Despite her full plate, she tries to hike once a week, and for reasons beyond stress release. Her boots represent “a privilege that I hold that others don’t,” she says, “because people hike across the border in order to survive.” In honor of them — and in search of higher peaks for Latinx students — Moreno Luna will keep walking.

Contact to explore opportunities that empower Latinx students to reach their potential. You may also consider a gift to the Chicanx Latinx Student Development Fund or the Latinx Student Resource Center Fund, both of which are meaningful to Moreno Luna.

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