Program Helps East L.A. Students Plan for Academic Future

May 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As the end of the school year and summer vacation approaches, some high school students are starting to plan what to do during their free time.

In East Los Angeles, members of United Students, a program of the education-based nonprofit InnerCity Struggle, are preparing to attend the Media Justice Academy in July.

United Students, is a student-organized program that provides information and resources to low-income youth from Theodore Roosevelt, James A. Garfield, Woodrow Wilson, Abraham Lincoln, Esteban E. Torres and Mendez High Schools in East L.A.

According to their website, the goal is to “organize high school students build student power and develop young leaders with the aim of transforming the quality of public education in the Eastside.”

Adriana Meza, 16, is in the 10th grade at Lincoln and Stephanie Orea, 18, is a senior at Torres High School, and both of the students told EGP they feel more motivated to go to college after attending a two-day field trip in late April to the Bay Area in Northern California as part of a United Students program that took 36 students from the East L.A. area, including Meza and Orea to visit the University of California at Berkeley, Cal State University East Bay and St Mary’s College.

Thirty-six East L.A. students visited three universities in the Bay Area and obtained information about classes and tuition. (Courtesy of InnerCity Struggle)

Thirty-six East L.A. students visited three universities in the Bay Area and obtained information about classes and tuition. (Courtesy of InnerCity Struggle)

Both students said they were very exited to go because they never thought they would have the opportunity to visit colleges far from home.

“[At the universities] they motivated us to go directly to a four-year university,” Meza told EGP.

“The best thing was talking to other students who gave us good advice,” added Orea.

Jasmin Pivaral, academic services coordinator at InnerCity Struggle, was one of the coordinators accompanying the students, along with 6 staff organizers.

Historically, Pivaral told EGP, colleges and universities were not equipped to accommodate the needs of low-income students, “and to this day they’re still not accessible.”

That’s why, she said, it is important to have more representation of low-income and first generation students in colleges throughout California.

During the visits to the colleges, “we try to get hosts that come from similar backgrounds as our students,” Pivaral told EGP via email. “We want students not only to be inspired by being on campus, but also to visualize themselves [at the school] through our hosts who are also low-income and first generation college students.”

During their visit, the students were able to meet two United Students alumni; one who is now attending UC Berkeley and another at CSU East Bay.

Meza said she felt comfortable talking to the college students: “They educated us to which school we should attend” depending on our goals, she said, adding that she is now more motivated to go straight to a four-year university rather than a community college.

“They even gave us financial information” about what it costs to attend, Meza added.

Lea este artículo en Español: Programa Enfocado a Estudiantes del Este de L.A. Ayuda a Planear Futuro Académico

Pivaral said many students, for one reason or another, get discouraged while in high school. “It is our responsibility to help make sure that students still work toward [their] goal despite their obstacles,” she said. Most of the time the reason they get discouraged about their college prospects is due to a lack of information and fear of the cost, she added.

According to the Campaign for College Opportunity’s 2013 study, The State of Higher Education in California, the state is “home to more than 14.5 million Latinos,” or the 38% of California’s population and 68% of Latinos are under the age of 25. However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 only 11% of Latinos had a Bachelor’s Degree compared to 39% of whites.

“We understand that most schools do not have the needed resources to provide trips like these to eastside students” or summer programs such as the Academy and that’s why United Students began to organize the student leaders to serve as mentors and to provide the resources, said Pivaral.

Meza said she is proud to be the first one in her family to graduate from high school. She feels a responsibility to give back to her parents who work in low-paying jobs; her mother in a chain fast food restaurant and her father who works part-time in the restaurant and part-time in a warehouse loading and unloading merchandise with a forklift.

“[My parents] work hard for me and I want to be able to help,” she said, adding she wants to become a lawyer or a psychologist. “They approve of [what I am doing] as long as I’m doing good things,” she explains.

Orea, who will be attending East Los Angeles College starting in the fall, said as a first generation student going to college will prove to her family that education is the best option. “I don’t want to struggle like my siblings who have kids already,” dropped out of school and have a hard time making ends meet, said Orea one of four children.

“I want to move forward because I see my parents struggling and I want to help them,” added Orea who is planning to study Business.

During United Students’ Media Justice Academy this summer, students will continue developing their leadership skills and will focus on how media can have a positive or negative influence in communities, said Pivaral.

Student participants will learn how “the media is used to perpetuate stereotypes and misconceptions about eastside youth,” and how to overcome them, she explained.

In the meantime, Orea said she is exited to have taken one more step forward in reaching her educational goals. “I want to know what it is like to go to a different place,” she said as she begins to consider the possibility of going to a four-year university far from home.

Meza told EGP that since joining the group her parents have been more open to hearing about her options; “They want me to go to college and have the chance to get a better job,” she said.

This year about 45 students in the United Students program will be graduating from high school, and the colleges they will attend include UCLA, UC San Diego, Yale University, Brown University, Mount St. Mary’s, UC Merced, CSU LA and CSUN.

Although the summer Academy is only open to students who are already United Students members, the group encourages students at their focus high schools to attend their general membership meetings, which usually occur during lunch-time or after school, depending on the campus.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

 

Editor’s Note: Headline updated to correct editing error.

 

Se Refuerza Asociación Entre Garfield, ELAC y CSULA para Mejoras de Educación

May 15, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

La semana pasada funcionarios de educación anunciaron una iniciativa que se enfoca en motivar a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles para que obtengan educación superior garantizándoles admisión a la universidad Cal State Los Ángeles.

“GO East L.A.: Un Camino para la Universidad y Éxito Profesional” es una sociedad entre la preparatoria Garfield, el Colegio Comunitario del Este de Los Ángeles (ELAC), y la universidad Cal State L.A.

José Huerta, presidente de la preparatoria Garfield muestra la firma del documento de  asociación con las entidades ELAC y CSULA para promover educación superior a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

José Huerta, presidente de la preparatoria Garfield muestra la firma del documento de
asociación con las entidades ELAC y CSULA para promover educación superior a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El programa creado por la Miembro de la Junta Directiva del Distrito Escolar de Los Ángeles, Mónica García, el Presidente de ELAC Marvin Martínez y el Presidente de Cal State L.A. William A. Covino, ofrece a los estudiantes de Garfield y ELAC prioridad de admisión a Cal State L.A. si reúnen los requisitos necesarios.

Los creadores de la iniciativa dicen que su visión es desarrollar una “comunidad que sea un sistema educativo de la cuna a la carrera profesional” que apoye a los jóvenes del área desde el preescolar hasta la graduación de la universidad con las herramientas necesarias para tener éxito en cada nivel del sistema educativo. El objetivo es asegurar que los estudiantes que asisten a la preparatoria Garfield en el Este de Los Ángeles obtengan las habilidades necesarias para “contribuir a la vitalidad económica y de salud de la comunidad”, según un comunicado difundido por ELAC.

A través de GO East L.A., los estudiantes que asisten a la preparatoria Garfield recibirán apoyo para sus metas académicas después de graduarse de la preparatoria, si quieren asistir primero a ELAC o ir directamente a Cal State LA. Estudiantes que asisten ELAC también recibirán asistencia específica para ayudarles a transferirse a Cal State L.A.

Entre otras cosas, la iniciativa pide la recopilación de recursos privados y públicos para proporcionar más asesoramiento académico y de apoyo a los estudiantes de Garfield y ELAC para asegurarse de que están completando con éxito las clases que necesitan para asistir a Cal State L.A. Se animará a los estudiantes a tomar más clases de preparación universitaria y cursos que califiquen para créditos universitarios mientras estén en la preparatoria.

La preparatoria Garfield, que en algún momento fue una de las escuelas más sobre pobladas de LAUSD, actualmente matricula alrededor de 2.500 estudiantes y tuvo una tasa de graduación de 87,3% en el 2011-12 , según el Presidente de Garfield, José Huerta.

García, dijo que el objetivo de GO East L.A. es eliminar los obstáculos que enfrentan muchos estudiantes para que puedan graduarse en menos tiempo y acceder al mercado laboral con un título en sus manos. La asociación se compromete en ser ellos mismos “responsables” en cuanto al éxito de los estudiantes, dijeron los funcionarios.

“Vamos a empezar por conseguir que nuestros profesores y nuestros maestros hablen entre sí”, García le dijo a EGP. “Los consejeros de los campuses que hablen el uno al otro también”, agregó. “… La clase del 2014 de la preparatoria Garfield ya está conectada con ELAC y Cal State L.A.”, anunció.

Julia Soto, estudiante del 12 grado en Garfield, le dijo a EGP que la iniciativa es un gran recurso para ella porque planea obtener su título Asociado o entrar en un programa de enfermería y posteriormente conseguir una licenciatura en Ciencias . “Este programa [nos] anima a ir a ELAC y después transferirnos a Cal State L.A., con prioridad de inscripción”, dijo después de la conferencia de prensa que se llevó a cabo el 8 de mayo en Garfield.

Soto dijo que actualmente ella está tomando clases de la universidad durante los fines de semana para obtener más rápido su título universitario. “Gente de ELAC viene los sábados a darnos clases”, dijo. “Ellos nos motivan a continuar con nuestros estudios”.

Huerta le dijo a EGP que él esta “muy impresionado y honrado” de que los logros de Garfield estén siendo reconocidos.

Por ahora, la iniciativa se ofrece solo en Garfield, pero García dijo que espera que otras escuelas del Este como Esteban Torres y la Academia de Aprendizaje Solís se añadan en la próxima ronda.

Mientras que las tres instituciones educativas siempre han tenido una relación, García dijo que espera que este nuevo esfuerzo convierta la relación más fuerte con objetivos más claros. “Lo que queremos ver en el programa GO East L.A. es una mejor organización en torno a los programas, el apoyo y los resultados”, le dijo a EGP.

Las empresas locales también proporcionarán ayuda a los estudiantes necesitados. Entre los partidarios locales, Grifols Worldwide, un grupo mundial de la salud localizado junto a Cal State L.A., ha donado $50.000 para becas para estudiantes en el programa.

GO East L.A. también desarrollará programas orientados a ayudar a estudiantes a obtener un título universitario o certificados de carrera necesarios, así como edificar conocimiento sobre la universidad mediante el alcance a las escuelas secundarias y asociaciones con grupos comunitarios y los padres para promover la asistencia a la universidad con las habilidades necesarias.

GO East L.A. espera incluir escuelas intermedias del Este como Belvedere, Griffith y Stevenson, para acrecentar el esfuerzo.

García dijo que espera ver que los programas sean eventualmente expandidos a escuelas fuera del Este de Los Ángeles.

“Queremos ver un GO Lincoln Heights, GO Boyle Heights”, dijo. “Tenemos que ver a todos llegar a la meta.”

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Copyright © 2014 Eastern Group Publications, Inc. ·