Back to School? Get the Summer Rewind

Over the Summer, Generation 1st Degree-Pico Rivera’s Be A Leader – Senior Boot Camp program prepared incoming seniors for the college application process. The Senior Boot Camp provided sixty-five students with the opportunity to participate in a series of college preparation workshops that took place on a college campus. Students benefited from the program’s guidance in the college admission application process and also learned how to craft a resume, an activity that helped many of the students secure summer internships and jobs.

Selfie by comedian Ernie G. Gritzewsky with Bryan Cortes, Alejandra Gomez, Michelle Sandoval, and the students

Students participated in six group sessions and two one-on-one sessions with our project manager, Michelle Sandoval. One area of focus was on peer and professional editing of resumes as well as writing and editing the students’ college personal statements. Students received a visit from UCSB Admissions officials to discuss the UC application and how to successfully be admitted to UCSB specifically. The students received a visit from a career panel, which included comedian Ernie G. Gritzewsky and inspirational speaker Bryan Cortes. The panelists’ overall goal was to empower the students to “Be A Leader.” The students also had the opportunity to visit and explore college campuses including Pomona and Pitzer Colleges.

Julio Ornelas, the Vice President of the Be A Leader Club, said, “One thing that I learned from the Summer Boot Camp is that I can afford college with the help of grants, loans, and many scholarships.” Other students applied what they learned and had immediate results like Isaiah Avina, who landed his first summer job at Hollister following the resume writing workshop. Leanne Payan shared, “I learned how to build a resume at the Be A Leader Boot Camp.” Leanne successfully received an offer to be an intern at a law firm in Los Angeles. She spent four weeks over summer shadowing a lawyer and helping him maintain the medical records for his clients’ cases.

Now that the Be A Leader Senior Boot Camp program is a wrap, participating students will be ready to take on the challenge of completing their college applications this Fall!

A Parent’s Perspective On Generation 1st Degree Programs

Gloria Aguirre, El Rancho High School parent of senior high school student twins, Melissa and Michelle Aguirre, 17, shares with Michelle Sandoval, program lead for Generation 1st Degree programs, about her family’s college preparation experience.

Tell us about your family.

We’re a family of 6. My husband is from Zacatecas, Mexico, and is the breadwinner for our home. I’ve been a stay at home mom for the last 5 years. So in our house of 6, we have Madeline and Melissa who are 17, and 2 younger boys who are 6 and 9 years old. They’re into sports and Melissa and Madeline are into choir. Madeline is really involved in politics, and Melissa is still part of her MIT program that ends in January.

As Melissa and Madeline are applying to college, what has the process been like for you seeing them go through it?

They have always been on top of things. I’ve never really had to push them to do anything. I know that being part of Generation 1st Degree’s programs has introduced them to a lot of new things. It guides and gives them a structure. I can’t say it was me…. I can’t say it is mommy or daddy pushing them, because it was more the programs on campus. They have always had a goal since they were young and they had a vision and because they can see that, they are self-driven. So with all of the opportunities offered here at the high school it just makes things easier for them.

What opportunities from Generation 1st Degree programs have they participated in that has shaped them as they apply to college?

I remember something in particular with Madeline. She met one of the guest speakers last summer who is a lawyer. Because that is Madeline’s interest (becoming a lawyer) and hearing how the guest speaker got to her goal and how she did it really inspired her. Madeline came home and said, “Mommy, I have to do this and that….” and started listing all of the things the lawyer said. So having guest speakers come out and expose them to the professions they are interested in has really shaped and helped them continue to stay focused on what they have to do to get ready for college.

For Melissa, she’s my undercover bright little girl. She’s self-driven…they both have always had the vision so for me it’s easy to say that I really haven’t done much. They know their goals and anything that has to do with college; they are already know what to do, so all of the programs through Generation 1st Degree and Be A Leader only make it better for them. It’s part of their structure.

And for you, as a parent, what has been the biggest help or opportunity that you think you’ve been exposed to with Be A Leader and the twins’ participation in all of the college prep programs?

I think, as a parent, the girls being part Generation 1st Degree – Pico Rivera and being provided the tools through these programs has been the biggest help. We are so fortunate that they are able to provide those tools to our high school. I’m very grateful…beyond grateful for what they’ve done to make our life easier. Because ultimately these kids have goals and it’s not that we’re not ready as parents to help. For me, I think I’m a great mentor for them, but the structure that the programs have provided makes our life easier. The unknown is a little scary as far as where they’re going to end up for college, but ultimately, I know they’ve got las ganas and I know they have the vision and goals, and I can see them reaching high.

What Have We Done?

Every organization takes the time to pause and review what was done over the past years to see what can be done to deliver on promises made. The same holds true for us! Here are some of the milestones that we have hit over the past few years:

  • For the 2014-2015 school year, Generation 1st Degree-Pico Rivera empowered 1,261 students to reach for higher education
  • Generation 1st Degree-Pico Rivera and its partners hosted 84 workshops and sessions including:
    • 13 personal statement workshops where students prepared personal statements for their college applications reaching 390 students
    • 2 parent workshops that reached nearly 300 parents
    • A career day with more than 37 participating organizations
    • 10 scholarship marathons where students learned about and applied for multiple scholarships to offset tuition costs
    • A 4-day college tour where students visited several California Universities
    • Dozens of specific workshops geared towards Juniors and Seniors
    • Faculty seminars
    • Test prep and academic advisement
  • In 2014-2015, an average of 98% of our partner program students have gone on to college.
  • We have given away more than 35,000 books to Kindergarteners in 5 years

We are sharing this with you to inspire you to support Generation 1st Degree – Pico Rivera! We hope you might find a reason, or 1,261 reasons to support our mission of having a college degree in every home in Pico Rivera!


Our 5th Annual Kindergarten Book Giveaway: Paving the Way to College!

More than 800 Pico Rivera kindergartners will receive 10 new books for their own home literacy library! We are teaming up with the El Rancho Unified School District for the 5th year to help local early readers start their very own literacy library to foster reading proficiency and comprehension.  At each elementary school in the district and at two local private schools, Jacki Cisneros, president and co-founder of Generation 1st Degree-Pico Rivera, along with school officials, will distribute bags of books for kindergarten students at several school assemblies next week.

Generation 1st Degree-Pico Rivera recognizes that the pathway to college starts in kindergarten. To support its mission of achieving one college degree in every Pico Rivera home, G1DPR will donate 10 brand new books to approximately 800 kindergarten students living in Pico Rivera.

“This event has a more significant meaning that extends beyond receiving books,” says Jacki Cisneros. “It gives us an opportunity to highlight how important it is for children to maintain, and hopefully surpass, their required reading level by third grade. This milestone is a huge benchmark as research shows that students who can’t read on grade level by 3rd grade are four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time. And if poverty is a factor, then studies show a student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her proficient, wealthier peer.*

The goal of the book giveaway is to improve literacy and comprehension skills, which ultimately increase each child’s chances of achieving a higher education in the future.

*American Educational Research Association, 2011

Monday, October 24

@ 8:45am: Birney Elementary, 8501 Orange Ave., Pico Rivera 90660

@10:00am: Magee Elementary, 8200 Serapis Ave., Pico Rivera 90660

Tuesday, October 25

@ 8:45am: Rivera Elementary, 7250 Citronell Ave., Pico Rivera, 90660

@10:00am: Valencia Elementary, 9241 East Cosgrove St., Pico Rivera 90660

Wednesday, October 26

@ 8:45am: Rio Vista Elementary, 8809 Coffman-Pico Rd., Pico Rivera 90660

@10:00am: South Ranchito Elementary, 5241 South Passons Blvd. Pico Rivera, 90660

Thursday, October 28

@ 8:45am: North Ranchito Elementary, 8837 East Olympic Blvd. Pico Rivera, 90660

@ 10:00am: Durfee Elementary, 4220 South Durfee Ave., Pico Rivera, 90660