Program Partner Spotlight: Be A Leader, College Bound and Leadership Ready

Be A Leader Foundation’s Senior Boot Camp is another one of Generation 1st Degree’s programs aimed at helping students be college-ready. Through an intensive summer program consisting of weekly three-hour workshops for the 8-week “Summer Boot Camp, ” seniors are provided support and guidance through the college application process, personal statement guidance and college exploration opportunities by visiting multiple colleges.

This summer, over 80 seniors were invited to the Be A Leader Summer Boot Camp hosted at El Rancho High School. In addition to summer school, summer jobs, and summer internships, these seniors made the time to attend the morning or afternoon three-hour sessions, with the goal of preparing themselves to demonstrate their well-roundedness.
Each week, as part of the session, different professionals were invited to share about their profession and provide advice and assistance as students explored their career interests. Invited guests included a Spanish teacher, an Immigration Attorney, a Politician, a College Admissions Counselor, among others.

Additionally, to provide more college exploration opportunities, Be A Leader hosted two field trips in which students visited a total of six campuses. The first field trip took students to Whittier College, USC and CSULA. The second college exploration trip consisted of visiting UCI, Chapman University and CSU Fullerton. At each college, students had the opportunity of embarking on a campus tour as well as enjoying student panels and admissions presentations.

Given that Be A Leader also focuses on the leadership development of students, students were also offered the opportunity to participate in community service by volunteering with the City of Pico Rivera’s Summer Meal program. This took place at different parks throughout the city. Through community engagement, students were able to further build a solid foundation for their already well-rounded resumes.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship by Generation 1st Degree Pico Rivera, this summer’s Senior Boot Camp was a great success. Students ended the summer with multiple drafts of personal statements, awareness of the four types of higher education, and an understanding of scholarships. They also came away with interests in liberal arts colleges, excitement towards exploring out-of-state options and an immense eagerness and confidence to start the application process.

“Before the workshops I thought I’m not rich, nor are my grades fantastic, so I’m going to community college, but I learned here that I can go to any college I want to as long as I work for it,” said Valerie Ann Viray, one of our proud student leaders.

Valerie’s feelings towards college were shared by many of her classmates. Their lack of awareness regarding the college admissions process and the involvement of comprehensive reviews, when looking at applications, had them feeling at a disadvantage in comparison to many of their counterparts in more affluent communities.

Through this summer program and their exposure into the world of college admissions, they were able to gain confidence as they saw themselves as more than numbers; their stories suddenly had a new meaning and their dreams and aspirations were validated.

Alma Renteria, who leads the Senior Boot Camp, shares her students’ excitement as she plans for the rest of the school year. “After a successful summer, I know the real work begins as soon as they start their senior year. We have our monthly Saturday workshops booked for the rest of the year to ensure students continue to receive guidance and understand that they are not applying alone. Their goals are now my goals and it is the most satisfying job to know that I get to be a part of helping them achieve success,” she said.

As part of their plan to reach more students, Be A Leader has also started their Be A Leader Club at El Rancho High School, which aims to recruit 9th-11th graders interested in participating in community service, college exploration days and career shadow days. Exposure has been a key focus for Be A Leader and with the club, they hope to reach more students, at an earlier time. This will help prepare them to be more competitive and well-rounded scholars, come their time to apply.

Be A Leader is excited to continue working with El Rancho and has Alma Renteria, the Project Manager, based at El Rancho’s Career Center to ensure easy access to students. Under G1D’s leadership, Be A Leader looks forward to continuing working in collaboration with the other programs offered on campus, as the foundation understands that “it takes a village to raise a child.”