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!


Meet Yvette Torres, Be A Leader Foundation Coordinator

Welcome back to all our students. My name is Yvette Torres and I am the High School Coordinator for Be A Leader Foundation- Pico Rivera. I am a First Generation College Graduate from the University of California, Irvine with a BA in Education Studies and Psychology and Social Behavior.

As the first person in my family to pursue a college degree, I was completely lost in the transition from high school to college and had to figure out how to navigate the system on my own. I was not sure of what classes to take, where to go ask for help, what loans to accept, or the importance of internships and networking during college.

If it wasn’t for the amazing support from my high school teachers, I would not have been able to graduate from UCI and find my passion in helping First Generation Students achieve a higher education.

As the High School Coordinator for Be A Leader, I am given the opportunity to help students, with stories very similar to my own, explore the different options of higher education. Most importantly, I serve as a mentor during the transition from high school to college.

I run the Be A Leader Club, where we help foster a college going environment at ERHS. I also work closely with our Senior Boot Camp Students to assist them with the college application process, financial aid, and helping them make their final decision of where to go to college.

This year, I am excited to start our Be A Leader Alumni Support Group as we reach out to our Be A Leader graduates on their journey through college, to offer mentorship, so they do not feel lost in their transition into college.

I am grateful for the opportunity to work with G1DPR and Be A Leader to help students reach their goals and work toward G1DPR’s mission of having a college degree in every home.

I’m amazed by the support that students and alumni are given through all the programs that G1DPR sponsors. It’s great to work with an organization that understands the importance of helping students go to college, but ultimately ensuring they finish their education and succeed.


Meet Michelle Sandoval, Be A Leader’s New Project Manager

This month we caught up with Michelle Sandoval, Be A Leader’s new Project Manager, for an introductory Q&A.

We’re excited to welcome Michelle as part of our G1DPR family and look forward to all of our students and parents meeting her.

What is your new role with Be A Leader and G1DPR?

I am the newest Project Manager for the Be A Leader Foundation- Pico Rivera. I am responsible for overseeing the curriculum development for the Senior students in our group, to assist them in achieving their fullest potential as they complete the college application process. Additionally, my role implements and executes college-focused activities that expand into the community, such as college visits, workshops and panels.

Tell us about your background: Where did you grow up and where did you go to high school & college?

I am the proud daughter of Mexican and Guatemalan immigrant parents, born and raised in a small town located in the heart of the Coachella Valley. I completed high school at Desert Hot Springs High School and, as the first college graduate in my family, received my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, with a minor in Communication, from Stanford University.

What was your college application process and college experience like? Who guided you?

The experience for me was very much like throwing a dart at a bullseye, while blindfolded. Although I was valedictorian of my class and had challenged myself extensively – for example, I had completed two courses at UC-Riverside as a Junior in high school, my position as a daughter of immigrants whose first language was Spanish, meant that I counted on my parents for the moral support to get through the college application process but was very much on my own when it came to completing the forms themselves. The guidance I received came in the form of the “can do” attitude that my parents instilled in me, which ultimately allowed for me to succeed in researching and informing myself as much about the process as I could.

What inspires you to help Be A Leader/G1DPR students be successful – what do you want our students and parents to know about the support they can receive?

The application process was one of the most stressful periods for me in my academic career. I had done everything that I possibly could to demonstrate the kind of competitive student I was; however, I felt so alone. I want my students to know that I have been there, my parents have been there, and that they do not have to do it alone just because I did. It takes a village for a child to succeed. And, we are the village that is going to support their family throughout the college process.

What are your goals for Be A Leader this first semester?

My goals are to strengthen and empower the participating Senior Boot Camp students in preparation for their college applications. Also, I would like to increase the mentorship role that the Senior students play in the lives of the underclassmen Be A Leader Club members through educational activities and visibility within the community.

What message would you like to extend to our G1DPR family – students, parents, & community?

We CAN do it. Not alone, but together. ¡Juntos podemos!