From Viking to Bruin, West Valley Grad Transfers to UCLA Through Honors Program

Paulina Berestov

Paulina Berestov has the same story that so many high school seniors share. During her senior year at Presentation High School, after anxiously waiting to receive her admissions letters to the UC (University of California) of her choice, she was rejected. Her dreams were shattered with the words, “we are sorry to inform you.”

“Those words changed my trajectory for what I had envisioned for my undergraduate experience and landed me on the steps of West Valley Community College,” says Berestov.

After beginning her first year at West Valley she realized that she had, in fact, landed in just the right place. Berestov took the time at West Valley to level up, taking general ed classes, Honors courses like Critical Thinking where she was able to strengthen her writing, and even enrolled in classes like dance, theatre, and anthropology that helped shape her perspective on different cultures. She even co-founded the West Valley Women in STEM Club.

“I know that the education, leadership experiences, and skills that I received at West Valley were the reason I got into UCLA,” she says. “And the main driver for getting here was the West Valley Honors Program.”

The West Valley Honors University Transfer Program, provides highly motivated students with the opportunity to experience advanced levels of enriched education through challenging coursework and the ability to work closely with Honors faculty and other highly motivated students. The Honors Program partners with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to offer the Transfer Alliance Program (TAP), which works to foster academic excellence and promote diversity and retention in the UCLA transfer population.

UCLA TAP applicants are admitted at more than double the rate of non-Honors transfer applicants. This year, sixty percent of students in the TAP were accepted to UCLA—compared to a four percent acceptance rate through the high schools.

“The Honors Transfer Program’s relationship with the UCLA Transfer Alliance Program gave me the second chance I needed,” says Berestov.

Equipped with a new perspective and stronger writing skills after completing five Honors courses, she was able to write a new admission essay about topics that truly embodied her as a person and showcased her academic skills.

“My biggest tip for anyone who is in a similar situation is to create a plan for your end goal, focus on your academics, and let your personality shine through on your application,” Berestov says.

The Honors program at West Valley has a 97% successful transfer rate to 4-year universities. Additionally, many universities offer guaranteed admission and/or guaranteed scholarships for Honors program students.

“I remember when the future felt so unknown, but I know now that where you are is right where you should be and that every experience is a steppingstone on your journey,” says Berestov. “I’m so grateful that my steppingstone was West Valley College.”

West Valley College has one of the highest transfer rates of the 116 Community Colleges and has the highest transfer rate in Silicon Valley. For more information on requirements for joining the Honors Program, please visit

Last Updated 5/9/22