Update from Sam

The highlight of my college experience had to be my midterms.  I had all A’s and one D.  But, that D is now a B in my math class.  It felt good to work hard to get that grade up and to connect with my professor.  College can make you look at the world and past circumstances of life and help you realize that this is the place to be.  No block, hood or friends can give you the opportunities that college has to offer.  I love my school and I love Ed Fund for believing in me.

Claiming My Education

As a first-generation college student, I take great pride in where I come from, what I’ve been through, and where I’m headed. Navigating college was not easy, and every step of the way there were barriers. I was very fortunate to have had a great support system and lots of mentors back home that made me into the person I am today. The goals I set in high school are completely different from the goals I have now. Experiencing hurdles early on in college helped me realize my true passion for education. When I first read, Paulo Freire’s, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, I derived a profound purpose for education as serving a “cause of liberation” for students. With this transformative approach toward my education, I realized how important it was to take advantage of all the resources available to me so that I could assist my community.

Shortly after my second year, I began to take on different responsibilities at the UC Irvine campus. From serving as President for a Latinx coalition organization to joining a Latino fraternity, all my roles have been focused around community service and promoting educational opportunity. My goals since high school have changed from simply earning a degree to prepare for the workforce to claiming my degree and being proactive where ever I reside.

This summer, I am part of a five-week summer cohort called, Summer Academic Enrichment Program (SAEP) here at UC Irvine. The program focuses on exposing undergraduate students to research and preparing them for graduate school. This upcoming academic year, I will be a Research Assistant for Professor Yenda Giovanatto in School of Education with a focus on language and literacy development in children and adults. I also plan on conducting research surrounding political participation and how age, educational attainment, and religion can effect voter turnout in the Latinx community. In addition, I will be participating in the UCDC program and am in the process of applying for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics fellowship.

After I graduate, I will be applying to Stanford’s Policy, Organization, and Leadership Service graduate program, as well as to University of San Francisco and San Francisco State University’s Educational Leadership programs.

The end of the semester is around the corner

My first semester as a college student brought me many valuable experiences. I was able to develop my social skills since I met new friends who I believe will be part of my future successes. I am very proud to say that I was able to be part of the volleyball team from the college and representing it was an honor, for I met incredible people whom I owe a great experience in my first semester.
Being a freshman in college has given me many lessons, and I hope I will develop my goals as times goes by. I can’t wait for the next semester to come, so I can keep meeting people that will enrich my academic experience. I was able to find that it doesn’t matter where I am or what I am doing, instead, who I am with.
My classes were far from exceptional, I liked the way my teachers bonded with each of their students. These teachers are doing a magnificent work in developing this program called PUENTE. I am proud to say I am part of it and that I have gotten so much out of it. One example is the mentor they assigned me, this person has been an amazing influence in the way I see my academic development, as well as life.
I had the opportunity to explore the college in its entirely and I discovered the art classes, I am considering in probably being part of one, for they offer amazing opportunities for creativity to grow. I am so into this place that I keep looking for any opportunity I can find to be involved. I want to make this community grow, so I joined ADELANTE WITH STEM which is a program directed to latinos that encouraged this community to be involved in Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics fields, for this communities underrepresented it. Contra Costa is growing in these programs and I am currently planning on opening a new program for engineering prospective students. I am really excited and hope that my future endeavors come with successes and learning.

A Summer To Remember

When I was informed about my eligibility for the Summer Bridge program, I was discouraged by the comments I had heard on it. Although I was excited to be starting a new chapter of my life at UC Berkeley, I had a sense of doubt in the back of my head that was preventing me from taking advantage of this amazing opportunity. After some self examination and speaking to other staff about the program and its benefits, I took the step and went through with the enrollment process. Looking back at that moment now that I am in my fall semester, it is one of the best decisions I have made with regards to my education. I understand now that I was scared of stepping into the unknown and am now grateful for doing so since Summer Bridge allowed me to preview what was coming in the next four years at UC Berkeley in the context of academics, campus life and relationships.
The transition from being a high school senior to a freshman at UC Berkeley is a difficult one that consists of adjustments, vulnerability and most of all, a growth mindset. While I had taken AP courses in high school that were structured as college-level classes, it was nothing like actually sitting in a lecture hall of 200-300 students. I couldn’t help but feel alone in the process of this transition but Summer Bridge helped me make connections with peers, GSIs and professors that opened my eyes to the fact that I was not the only one feeling this way and that it was alright to struggle, as long as I learned from those mistakes, fixed them and kept on taking school head on. The support from staff at Summer Bridge has made my fall semester a lot easier to navigate through since I now have a set of skills that is essential to my success as a student at UC Berkeley.
The academic rigors I faced during Summer Bridge are ones I had never encountered in my educational career but I was also given the tools to take them on and come out successful in the end. The countless hours of tutoring and support from my Bridgee family are what allowed me to successfully adjust to being a parent and a UC Berkeley student simultaneously. Having 60 page reading assignments due the following day and caring for a one year old in the process has allowed me to strengthen my abilities and mindset, leading to my becoming a better student and a mother. I am grateful that Summer Bridge challenged me to the point where I accepted the fact that my college experience wasn’t going to be like that of everybody else, and that it was totally fine for that to be the case. If more people were able to struggle through Summer Bridge, they would not only grow academically, but socially as well. The path that Summer Bridge put me on has allowed me to see my role as a student a lot differently than I expected coming into UC Berkeley. Having a daughter while being a student at UC Berkeley is extremely difficult and I face challenges different from that of the average student but through all the adversity and statistics against me, I come out stronger in effect.

Closing of the First Chapter

When people say time flies, they really mean it. It felt only like yesterday I’ve began the main course of my life, college, and already it’s finals week; filled with endless cramming and sleepless nights. It’s honestly been an adventure these past few months: meeting new people, settling in with the roomies, and getting accustomed to the new environment. Having home being a eight hour drive away, I can’t say I’ve only been a little homesick. I miss my parents, my brother, my loving grandparents, and my wonderful friends who I’ve left behind in my pursuit of higher education. Not to say I regret it; the time spent here, learning, becoming independent, and meeting a wide variety of people with such colorful personalities makes up for what I’m missing. Advice to those like me, with loved ones far from you, in a new environment: Life is to gain new experiences. College life is what you make of it. Go out and make new friends, study hard, and most importantly; grow. I know my loved ones back home are waiting and rooting for me to succeed, and I don’t plan to let them down. By being here in UC San Diego, I’m trying to make a difference in the world and you should too, wherever you are.

Reflections

It’s almost the end of my first semester here at Cal, and It’s never been a day I hadn’t reflected on everything around me. I feel so blessed to be at such a fine institution of learning, to be a part of such a diverse student body, and to be in such intellectually engaging classes with students that are just as passionate about learning as I am. Even walking around campus just makes me smile sometimes, and I feel so blessed here as a Berkeley student. So far, I love all my classes, but if I were to have to choose which class I have enjoyed the most this term, I would probably say Psychology. This says a lot since it is an 8AM class, but it is definitely what I look forward to waking up to in the mornings.

During my last midterm for that class, I realized I was actually enjoying studying for that class like it’s a hobby: I LOVED IT! Every chapter I read, every note I took, every video I watched and essay I wrote, I truly loved every second of it! As some of my friends in high school are applying for colleges, I would like to remind them to challenge themselves, always keep their dreams up high, and pursue whatever they desire because it WILL happen. I wish all seniors all the best in their application process!

First Term

As the first term of my college life expires, there are a few things i would like to reflect on. My classes began with culinary labs which involves being in a kitchen from noon till six Monday through Thursday. On top of that, on Tuesdays and Thursdays i work from 7-11:30 in the morning, so i am on my feet for almost 12 hours on those days. I never though that being a culinary arts major would be so exhausting, but i love it! As for the social aspects of my life, I have been gaining a few friends and I am getting in a regular group of people, but it has taken time and it has been lonely. Now that i am closing in on my last two weeks of my first trimester, i am getting ready to say goodbye to the same 20 people that i have had labs with this past term, and move on to my academic classes where I will meet a larger portion of the student body. This first term was a strong wake up call, it just pushed me into being independent and responsible. It has been a great experience and I am excited to continue my year.

Proud to be an Aggie

Choosing what college to attend was very hard for me. I had gotten accepted to many colleges, but I wanted something close to home. My plans were to live at home and stay close, so that my family and I can always have each other. Unfortunately during the last months of my senior year I took an unexpected decision. I decided to attend UC Davis and live on campus. I was not too sure of the decision I was making, but I wanted a new experience for myself. Now that I have been attending UC Davis for three weeks, I am the happiest college student ever.

UC Davis is not only the friendliest campus ever, but it’s also a school full of people that care. Staff members at UC Davis care about your academics, your health, and your personal life. They are always making sure that the students are doing their best in all ways possible. UC Davis is full of great things to do and great clubs to be involved in. I consider being here in UC Davis as a privilege because I feel happy and yet I am still getting a great education. An education that I know will one day pay off and give me an advantage in society. For all those upcoming freshmen, I really encourage them to apply to UC Davis. I am positively sure they will be very happy to become Aggies. I was once a proud eagle from Kennedy High School and now I am a very proud Aggie from UC Davis.

The New Chapter

The next chapter of my educational life, college; this is the moment I’ve been waiting for since I was eight years old. To have made it to this stage is such an exceptional exciting feeling to take all in. The day I walked the stage of my high school graduation was to me a level completion, after receiving my diploma I looked at myself and said “okay Will you did it, you got through the K – 12 school system; now let’s knock out college in four years and start your real life.” Here I am at Holy Names University in Oakland, CA, not too far away from home; but far enough to take care of my own business learning the system of adulthood. To see my mother’s face with all types of emotions, being proud of her third and last child being the first to go to college, sad about being without her Baby-boy after all 18 years, and the face of acceptance that her little boy is now turned into this young man going off to further his education and prepare for a successful life ahead.

Now moving into my dorm room, one of the most exciting aspects of college life. It was an easy process getting everything together, in about an hour time frame I had my room set and feeling like home which it did. Along with the dorm life of college came making new friends, which I did instantly just by being myself, seem like I didn’t have to do anything everybody came to me. For the next couples of days were really just getting to know my new home; the Campus. My campus was pretty to get a handle on, for the fact that it’s a small school. I knew where all my classes, the gym, student success centers were, and etc. So pertaining to whether my exceptions of the college dorm life were right, I can yes they were based on the school I knew I would be attending.

The first day of college was absolutely great, just by you create your own schedule, so my class flow was easy. I like all my classes and professors, now the professors at this school are amazing, just because they care about how you do in school. Since this campus has a small population the class ratio from student to teacher is maximum 15:1, so the connection with the teacher is very strong. Not like a UC school where they have like 100 students in a class and the teacher doesn’t even notice if a student missed class; on the other hand here at Holy Names the class is so small that the teacher will automatically notice that one his or her students are missing class and will ask you about your absences.

To sum up everything, I’m loving college it is truly the greatest experience a student could have in life. I want to thank the entire staff of the Ed Fund for funding my education and investing into my success.

A new chapter in life.

On July 18th, I had my college orientation. I woke up at 5:30 am, and was exhausted. The previous night, before orientation, was spent with me pondering on what college would be like. My day was starting off stressful due to negligence on my part. I had forgotten to investigate my route, and was thinking of how would I get to SFSU. After a copious amount of time, spent printing out a map, my sister and I headed out.

I felt very minuscule in such a large campus, but happy I had finally stepped into what would be my college for the next four years. My sister, and girlfriend, were mentoring me in what college classes- and times- I should take. In the end, I chose my classes on a MWR basis. At first, I wanted to take 15 units- but I ended up dropping a class I had already taken( and didn’t notice I was taking again).
My first weeks in college have gone really well, and I’ve been able to learn many things of interest. I’ve been able to make a few friends, and they have helped my transition from high school to college better. Making friends in college is hard because it feels like some people are just going to ignore you, but that’s okay because the ones who don’t are amazing.

I felt prepared to take on college because I had already been exposed to it’s rigor. LPS Richmond, my high school, made sure that every graduating senior had already known how tedious college work can be- and that every future college student needs to be meticulous in order to survive. Also, I had already taken Math 164 in CCC during the summer of 2012.

Although college rigor wasn’t a new thing to me, the workload is still stressful. Fortunately, I have Tuesdays and Thursdays off. On my days off, I wake up early and do my homework. I know that if I relax on my days off, my midterms and finals will be hell on earth to me.
What I look forward to in college is growing as a person, and being able to take my knowledge and use it to give back to the community.

Also, I look forward to living a college experience. I’m not so sure what a college experience is to others, or to me, but I wish to define it throughout the years- because it MUST be more than studying and going to class. What I’m not looking forward to in college is commuting. I wake up every day, and commute in the cold weather. After class, it’s usually very late and dark- and my parents get worried about me. Although commuting isn’t the best, I wake up grateful every day to have the opportunity to go to college. As a AB540 student, I didn’t have as much opportunities as I wished I did. One of my disadvantages was my financial aid packet. However, just by knowing I’m able to receive an education makes me wake up with a smile and say “College, I’m ready for you”.