|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Monday, November 1, 2004
San Gabriel Valley Tribune 10-31-04
Learning outside school
The newly opened road toward college for one small group
of seventh- and eighth-graders is lined with trips to the bowling alley,
Disneyland, snow-covered slopes and even museums and plays.
But that's about to change for six seventh-graders.
The boys and girls have been accepted into a six-year program that will provide them mentors and $600 a year for anything educational, cultural or enrichment related -- from extra books, calculators and computers to trips to sports games, museums, concerts and amusement parks.
The six students were chosen from about 75 applicants. To stay in the Partnership Scholars Program, they have to maintain a 3.0 grade point average and have a sincere desire to go to college.
Most of the seventh-graders say they'll be the first in their families to go to college. And their career plans include nutrition, psychology, physics and engineering.
Erick Pulido, 11, wants to become a forensics scientist.
"I want to solve crime by using fingerprints and DNA," Pulido said. "I want to go to college so I can do better things in life. It will also teach you a lot more things about the world. And I want to be good at math."
Kranz teachers say the students are all bright and ambitious kids.
"The biggest roadblock for them is exposure," said LilianaVazquez-Torres, one of the mentors. She teaches eighth grade language arts and history.
"The problem is their parents -- most of whom are immigrants -- don't know about what resources are available to them or where to go," she said. "They need someone to bridge them into mainstream."
This is the fifth year of the program at Kranz, and the original group of students are juniors in high school. Most are guaranteed various scholarships to the colleges of their choice -- scholarships not from the program, but because the program prepared them so well, said Arlene LeGaspe, who manages the program.
"What we do is we enrich them," she said. "They really haven't been out of El Monte. Some have never been bowling. We want to show them what's out there for them. They need this so they can become well-rounded."
Louis Bohorquez, 13, is in his second year of the program.
"We can do things we could never do before," Bohorquez said. "I want to do a lot. I want to go to space, I want to be a business owner, I want to be an actor, a lawyer, and I want to work for the police."
Private donations to the Partners Scholarship Program fund the projects and determine how many children can be added each year. The schools have to fit a certain profile with minorities from low-income neighborhoods. The nonprofit organization was created by a man who was given a similar opportunity in his youth. He collects donations throughout the year from individuals, businesses and corporations, officials said.
Kranz is the only middle school in the area involved with the program. Teachers like Vazquez-Torres -- who grew up in El Monte in the same type of immigrant homes -- say they see themselves in the students and want to give them the tools and experiences they'll need to become ready for college.
"I came back to this community for a reason," Vazquez-Torres
said. "There are gangs and poverty and violence and drugs in school,
and these students need guidance."
These news clips are provided by the Public Affairs Department of The California State University. They are intended for the internal use of The California State University system and should not be redistributed. Questions and submissions may be sent to email@example.com.