Accepted by One and All

As an upcoming senior, I was extremely scared of what the future had in store for me because my parents had not gone to college or even knew what the college process was like. After finishing the application process with the Be A Leader Foundation and Generation 1st Degree Pico Rivera, I felt more confident about my future. I applied to the University of Oregon, University of Arizona, University of California Merced, University of California Riverside, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, California State University Bakersfield, California State University Northridge and California State University Los Angeles. I am fortunate enough to say that I’ve been admitted to all the schools I applied to with the help of Be A Leader and Generation 1st Degree Pico Rivera.

As a first generation college student, I’m extremely fortunate to be offered admissions to these great schools that I would’ve never dreamed of getting into. I’ll be attending the University of Arizona in the fall and I’m excited to explore my career in Public Relations through a Communications major. My ultimate goal is to become a Global Publicity Specialist for a company in the entertainment industry.

I’m proud to share the university that I’ve committed to with my peers and the Pico Rivera community on College Signing Day. This event will sum up all the hard work I’ve put into my academics. To be alongside my classmates as they sign with their dream school is definitely something I’m looking forward to. This College Signing Day will not only represent my commitment to the University of Arizona but also my acceptance into higher education.

I’m proud to be a role model to my younger brother and sisters for their college journeys. For them, it will not be a question of whether or not they’re going to college, it will be a matter of when. The journey I’ve taken has definitely been a challenging one but Generation 1st Degree Pico Rivera and Be A Leader have helped me to both develop my networking skills and be more comfortable with this college process. I am ready!

Pushing Boundaries On Every Degree

By Alma Renteria, Be A Leader, Project Manager

When I see my leaders walk into the College and Career Center with a large envelope in hand and a smile from ear to ear, I can’t help but feel proud.

I’ve been helping students apply to college for over four years now. At first, I helped because I didn’t want students to feel lost in the process- as a first generation student myself, I remember how complicated the whole process felt.

Upon college graduation, I made it a goal to do my best to help other first generation students apply and give themselves more options than I gave myself. In joining Be A Leader, this goal has become my day-to-day. For the last 11 months, I’ve had the opportunity to guide and prepare these students on how to brand themselves and explore the array of options available for their future. While the process itself was lengthy, complex and sometimes very draining, the results have been worth the endless hours spent going over applications.

As College Signing Day approaches, I feel a sense of excitement and sadness, as I realize it’s all coming to an end; still I could not feel more proud of how much these leaders have accomplished. This year, we had more acceptances than ever before. Our students have applied to more out of states than last year and to twice as many more scholarships.

On College Signing Day, all their hard work will be celebrated but most importantly, they will have the opportunity to publicly share their accomplishments. While in prior years we have celebrated the Ivy League acceptances, this is the first year we get to truly celebrate ALL our students. Truth is, regardless of where they decide to attend, their acceptance into 4 year institutions is not only benefiting their future, but the future of Pico Rivera.

While the majority of my students are first generation students, their acceptances are changing the narrative for their families as college will now be the norm. This is in itself the greatest gift of all for me, as I know that the ripple effects of their accomplishments will impact our community in many ways. I hope they too see the difference they’re making and the role models they are becoming for our future leaders.

Launching into Greatness

With the excitement of G1DPR students recently traveling to Northern California for their first College Exploration Tour and the arrival of college acceptance letters this spring, I can’t help but be reminded of what an important step this is for our first generation college students.

For many of our students, they’ll be the first in their family to attend college. Along with the personal satisfaction of developing their own talents and the potential to make a significant income, comes many other long-term benefits – including, increased civic engagement, better long-term health outcomes, and the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees.

I think of it as a generational launch to greatness. Our students pursue a higher education, they obtain a great career they thought would never be possible, their lives are enriched, their family is impacted, and in the long run, their success strengthens the entire community.

Of course, nothing so important can be achieved without a degree of challenges. For first generation students, the thought of leaving home and going to college can be overwhelming, especially in our culture. Our foundations are built on strong family ties and, often, we stay close to family to help repay them for all the sacrifices they’ve made for us. I can tell you that the best way to repay them is by getting your college education. I’ve seen this firsthand through colleagues who have attained their degrees and are now an incredible support system for their families.

To be the first in anything takes sheer courage and will.

Thank you to each of our first generation students, for having the tenacity to be the first to persevere and work hard through the college application process, for attending essay workshops and test prep sessions, and for being a role model for your younger peers on campus, your siblings, and neighborhood friends.

I’m a firm believer that when you see someone who looks a lot like you, achieving things you’d never thought were possible, it gives you the encouragement to believe that you can do it too. Don’t forget to come home and share your success with our Generation 1st Degree Pico Rivera family. Let’s keep this generational launch going.