Successful Local After-School Mentoring Program for Latino Youth Reveals Success with Promoting Higher Education Opportunities

“The Higher Education Mentoring Program allowed me to expand not only my knowledge as a student but also as an individual in order to help me pursue my goal of achieving higher education. Thanks to the Higher Education Mentoring Program I can say that I am more prepared to not only get into college but, be successful while there.” Monica, Higher Education Mentoring Program 2019 Graduate.

Project Youth OCBF’s Higher Education Mentoring Program, an after school college readiness program, that supports and encourages educational opportunities for young Latinos, celebrated with its Class of 2019. The 6-year program successfully provided the academic, social, and financial support needed for students to graduate from high school and successfully apply to institutions of higher education. The initial 18-month phase has been completed, yet the students will remain in contact with staff and be tracked for the next 4 years or until the reach the goal of a Bachelor’s degree. This year, the agency gave over $30,000.00 in scholarships to twenty-seven senior Higher Education Mentoring Program participants that are pursuing higher education.  “We are extremely proud of the achievements of the Higher Education Mentoring Program and its participants. The Class of 2019 has 27 amazing young men and women who we are very proud of.  Project Youth OCBF board of directors, committee members, mentors and staff, as well as the student’s families, provided strong support and the guidance needed, for these students to enter college, but it was the students who excelled to achieve the end results,” stated Martha Madrid, Associate Director.  Project Youth OCBF has given over a million dollars in 4-year renewable scholarships to Santa Ana students since 2008.

Students were honored with a festive scholarship awards celebration held on May 21st. The event took place at the Delhi Community in Santa Ana with guests who are program supporters and respected members of the community. Carolyn McKitterick, chairwoman of the Higher Education Mentoring board committee, was this year’s spokesperson and mistress of ceremonies. Steve Card, Project Youth OCBF President, welcomed all the graduates, family members, invited guests and thanked Carolyn and the Higher Education Mentoring Program committee and thanked program sponsors and scholarship donors.

Martha Madrid, Associate Director, provided a bilingual speech highlighting program accomplishments and introduced the evening’s speakers, Monica Tavassoli and Luis Roman, student participants. Past student participants, Noemi Urquiza, Harvard graduate in Neuro-Biology, working at Hoag Hospital and Juan Mesa, UCI graduate in Electrical Engineering, employed at Eaton Corporation, Aerospace Division, also spoke.

This year’s graduating class will be attending the following schools: Stanford, Vanguard, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC San Diego, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State San Diego, Irvine Valley College, Orange Coast College and Santa Ana College.

The Higher Education Mentoring Program addresses the unmet need of assisting Latino students to pursue higher education.   The primary goals of the program are to provide culturally relevant services and resources to improve academic achievement, provide students with college preparation assistance through program mentoring sessions and workshops, provide academic support by matching students with Latino and/or professional mentors and provide the students’ parents with educational workshops, peer support and assistance to navigate the educational system in support of their sons/daughters’ academic goals.

Class of 2019 Project Youth Higher Education Mentoring Program Graduates: Carlos Aparicio, Xochitl Avila, Maria Benitez, Patricia Cardenas, Leslie Galvan, David Gonzalez, Nathlalie Graciano, Giselle Grande, Valeria Guillen, Haide Gutierrez, Kayla Herrera, Fabian Lopez, Maria Medina-Muniz, Adrian Mendez, Dylan Mendoza, Jose Nieto, Adamari Pena, Hazel Joy Ramirez, John Perez, Raquel Quezada, Christian Rivas, Luis Roman, Marvin Sanchez, Amy Solorio, Monica Tavassoli, Niobe Teasley, and Isabel Villegas