For Soleil Delgadillo, giving back is a family tradition. 

Her grandfather, she says, was “the guy in the neighborhood who stops to help when your car breaks down in the middle of the street.” Her mother, a homemaker, spent Delgadillo’s childhood in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles volunteering at local schools, lending a hand however she could to keep students engaged and ease the workload on overtaxed teachers. When Delgadillo asked her mother why she’d given so much of her time, the answer was simple: “They needed the help.” 

That philosophy guided Delgadillo when thinking about her future – and how best to spend her own time. 

“Helping out, I think it’s something that’s just ingrained in my family,” Delgadillo said. “I really view that as our version of generational wealth. It’s a legacy that is being passed down.” 

Delgadillo obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology and women’s studies from UCLA. Even as a student, she was committed to advocacy. She spent her years as an undergrad volunteering for Project B.R.I.T.E, a university program that tutors, mentors and empowers incarcerated youth. After graduating she won UCLA’s Young Alumni Volunteer of the Year Award in 2017 and was the 2018-20 president of the UCLA Latino Alumni Association

“It’s just part of who I am, being part of a bigger community, supporting others in their journey whatever that may look like,” Delgadillo said. “Especially being a Bruin. Going to UCLA really instilled in me the ‘Bruin values’ and giving back.” 

Delgadillo went on to earn a master’s in counseling at CSU Long Beach, and started working first for United Friends of the Children and then the Children’s Institute in Los Angeles, an organization that provides support to children, and their families, who have been affected by trauma. Throughout, Delgadillo worked to improve her community by encouraging others to do the same, developing tools to help people and businesses give back and finding creative ways to build partnerships across the city. 

“A big part of my job is connecting the corporate world and their volunteer or community efforts with individuals who want to volunteer and be a part of something bigger,” she said. 

Delgadillo has excelled in her work, she says, partly because she knows that there is always more to learn. In 2019 she enrolled at UCLA Extension and completed a certificate program in fundraising; she wanted to better engage with potential donors and prepare her team of volunteers for the complex issues they would face advocating for social justice in a city of nearly 13 million people. Since then, she has deepened her involvement and in 2022 was invited to become a member of the UCLA Extension Advisory Board. 

“Hearing that we want to connect underserved communities to UCLA Extension is amazing,” she said. “Our communities need economic mobility, and that goes hand in hand with education.” 

As to her future, Delgadillo says she’ll continue working to make Los Angeles a more equitable place. After all, it’s in her DNA. 

“The word ‘community’ is really ingrained in me,” she said. “Maybe I should get a tattoo.”

This article is adapted from the UCLAx magazine spring 2024 issue.