They’re College Bound – Our 4th Annual College Summer Send-Off Luncheon

We’ve got great reason to celebrate this June.

Earlier this month we held our 4th Annual College Summer Send-Off Luncheon. Our luncheon honors our G1DPR graduating and college bound students at El Rancho High School. This event both celebrates this major milestone in our students’ lives and helps to connect these soon-to-be college freshmen with other El Rancho High alumni and university graduates. By bringing them together, they can exchange real world information and college bound students learn what to expect in their upcoming collegiate life.

We were incredibly happy to meet our G1DPR students’ families and celebrate their graduations and accomplishments. It was an excellent afternoon filled with support from friends, families, the school district and the Pico Rivera community as a whole. Not to mention great conversations, fun and lots of great prizes.

The most poignant moments for me were listening to our G1DPR alumni, John Luke Barrios and Monica Ochoa. They both spoke of the challenges they faced as college freshmen, sharing that they both had initial feelings of not belonging on their campuses. Coming from working class family backgrounds, there was much to assimilate to but they have both persevered.

John Luke, a recent Yale University graduate, shared this with our current G1DPR students: “Don’t ever second guess yourself. I spent far too much time my first year at school thinking about how I wasn’t good enough, instead of what strengths I brought to my school. I wish I’d focused on this more. So remember, you’re worthy. We are so proud of you. You’re worthy and you are here for a reason.”

Monica, a sophomore at Notre Dame University, spoke to students about leaning on her parents for support by calling home every week and receiving a multitude of encouragement from them, especially her mom. Her involvement on the university campus has helped her to thrive. She became very involved in several student led Latino groups and even began leading her student group during “Misa,” or Mass, at The Basilica of the Sacred Heart every Sunday. She shared words of encouragement with our G1DPR students. “You’ll soon be talking to people from different backgrounds and places, cultures and languages. You’ll be amazed by all the people you meet there,” she said.

We thank our G1DPR alumni for sharing their college experiences and we applaud the efforts of our current G1DPR students who are staying the course and participating in our college access programs. Thanks to you, each year we get closer to our mission of having a college degree in every Pico Rivera home.

An Aggie Discovering Animal Science

Generation First Degree-Pico Rivera was very beneficial and influential for me throughout high school and in my first year of college. Throughout my senior year of high school, G1DPR was an important and consistent support system. They prepared me for the transition I would be facing as an undergraduate student in college.

The personal statement workshops provided by Jacki and Gilbert were very helpful to me when it came time to writing my statement. Having representatives from colleges read my personal statement greatly helped my chances of being accepted into several universities.

The College Summer Send-Off Luncheon, held at the end of the school year, also helped me get an idea of what college would be like. The alumni, and all those that attended, helped me feel a sense of community and this reassured me that no matter how hard times may get, I should never give up. They emphasized that even when the road gets difficult, I should continue to strive for my goals.

This coming fall, I will be a second year student at UC Davis. I’m majoring in the field of Animal Science, where I hope to continue my education at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and ultimately become a Veterinarian.

Even though my first year of college has been a vastly different experience than high school, I believe that all the struggles continue to help me grow as a person and teach me not to take anything for granted. Being of a Latino background, I know how difficult college may seem but I truly believe Generation First Degree Pico Rivera helps prepare students for the transition by giving them the confidence and motivation to prosper.



G1DPR Prepared, Titan Strong

As a senior, the idea of applying to college can be very intimidating. The application process is lengthy and as a first-generation/oldest child, I was left to figure out the process on my own. Thankfully, with the help of Generation First Degree and the Be A Leader program, I was not left to do it all alone. Be A Leader helped me with the whole process; from continuously rewriting my personal statements, to signing up for tests I didn’t know existed, Be A Leader guided me through every step.

Truthfully, G1DPR was such a beneficial program, not only for me but for my peers as well. Under Be A Leader’s support, we all received guidance through college and major explorations, we visited multiple campuses and even had the opportunity to have admission counselors provide feedback to our personal statements. With Alma and Yvette’s support (the Be A Leader staff), the application process felt easier than expected. I, as well as my Be A Leader peers, went to them for assistance with everything such as financial aid, scholarships, finalizing college choices, understanding loans and even down to the final decision between two very different schools.

While most of my time was spent with Alma and Yvette, they always reminded us that there was a team behind the scenes making it possible for us to have access to so many opportunities. I know that two important people behind all of this were Jacki and Gilbert Cisneros and I am immensely grateful for them believing in us, as well as acknowledging our own potential. They invested more than just money in us; they invested time, resources and their network, to help support our dreams.

I am excited to attend Cal State Fullerton this fall and be a Titan. I plan to major in Child Psychiatry. I received all the help possible from Generation 1st Degree-Pico Rivera and Be A Leader. The Cisneros’ have done so much for this community. I can’t wait to one day come back and join them in their efforts to help ensure there is a college degree in every household in Pico Rivera.