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.