Jaime https://realitychangers.org Mon, 12 Oct 2020 23:30:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 https://realitychangers.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/cropped-RC-Logo-32x32.png Jaime https://realitychangers.org 32 32 An update on our programming and operating hours https://realitychangers.org/blog/2020/04/an-update-on-our-programming-and-operating-hours/ Wed, 15 Apr 2020 16:05:51 +0000 https://realitychangers.org/?p=14917 Read More

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Dear Reality Changers Community,

I want to thank each of you for your flexibility over the past month as Reality Changers has navigated the rapid and unprecedented disruption of our programming due to the global pandemic. These changes have been overwhelming, ambiguous, and frustrating—particularly due to the fact that it is difficult to predict when the emergency situation will stabilize and how big the economic consequences will be.

At Reality Changers, we have made many tough decisions over the past month but have remained committed to keeping our students, families, volunteers and staff as safe as possible. 

At this time, we have made the difficult decision to reduce staff hours and work weeks to help control costs. Effective April 16, our office will run on a 4-day work week (Monday – Thursday, closed on Fridays) with staff available between 10am-3pm. We will continue to work remotely to adhere to the stay-at-home restrictions. More details on our updated programming schedule can be found below.

We are still dedicated to living out the mission of Reality Changers and this crisis demonstrates why Reality Changers is so important to our community. We need your support now more than ever and ask you to consider a gift—of any size—to support this work.

What has carried me through this time– and what continues to give me hope—is witnessing firsthand the daily resilience of our students, staff, and community. I feel very fortunate to be in this fight alongside all of you.

Thank you for your commitment to Reality Changers,

Tamara Y. Craver

Tamara Y. Craver
President & CEO
Reality Changers

Last updated April 15

Reality Changers is focused on balancing public health needs with doing the organization’s essential work, communicating with families and staff, and updating contingency plans as the COVID-19 outbreak evolves. Our office will remain closed until further notice. Please continue to monitor this page for ongoing updates and resources.

College Town:

  • All regular programming at all sites has been cancelled, including ACT prep.
  • As of April 20, we will be supporting our students virtually (College Knowledge, Leadership Development, Academic Development) on the following days:
    • 8th graders: 5-6pm Mondays, tutoring on Tuesdays from 6:30-8pm
    • 11th graders:  5-6pm on Tuesdays, with tutoring from 6:30-8pm
    • 9th-10th graders: 5-6pm on Thursdays, with tutoring from 6:30pm – 8pm
  • Our tutors will also double as academic mentors and will be checking-in with students 2-3 times per week to ensure they are keeping up with their classwork.
  • Students needing assistance or resources can make an appointment directly with their Achievement Coach.

College Apps Academy:

  • All Academy instructors have been instructing virtually since March 16.
  • Students needing assistance can continue to make appointments directly with instructors.

Alumni Network:

  • Students needing assistance can make phone or video call appointments directly with Alumni Network staff. You can reach out to the following staff memebers:
    • Arantxa A. Sanchex: Arantxa@RealityChangers.org
    • Brenda Trujillo Sanchez: Brenda@RealityChangers.org
    • Gerardo Jaimes: Gerardo@RealityChangers.org
    • Patty D. Mendoza: Patty@RealityChangers.org
  • The Alumni Network team will be hosting virtual live sessions for high school seniors to introduce the team, what support is available, and how they can access that support.

Resources: (We will continue to update this list as we learn of resources, free services and more)

Employment & Insurance

Housing

Food

Technology & Utilities

Other Information Sources

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Volunteer Spotlight: Bianca Alvarado https://realitychangers.org/blog/2020/04/volunteer-spotlight-bianca-alvarado/ Fri, 10 Apr 2020 23:16:49 +0000 https://realitychangers.org/?p=14901 Read More

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Bianca Alvarado (featured on the right) has volunteered as a mentor with College Town for the past 3 months at Reality Changers.

What motivated you to volunteer with Reality Changers?

What motivated me to start volunteering was seeing the impact Reality Changers is having on their students. I work with youth and have been following Reality Changers’ work for the past 2 years, via the website and social media. I wanted to experience the work in person.

What do you do outside of Reality Changers?

I work on projects related to youth. I teach youth about digital media, freelance around the same topic, and support Hispanic businesses. I am an educator with over 8 years of experience in innovative program design and management, curriculum development, and strategic partnership cultivation. I am also a community leader with 7 years of experience engaging in projects related to community development, STEM, and workforce development. Lastly, in my free time I enjoy walking and hiking, getting to know new trails, and spending time with my nieces and family.

Tell us about a time that was a meaningful moment for you as a Reality Changers volunteer.

A particularly meaningful moment was when I met with my new mentee. All of the work that she’s doing in her community and school, the leadership she’s taking on at such a young age (she won a presidential award for her leadership and community work) impressed me. This made me reflect and analyze what Reality Changers is doing. I saw myself reflected in my mentee as she is so motivated to pursue leadership opportunities. It was amazing to connect with her to see the skills and support she’s getting from Reality Changers around leadership.

What is one opportunity that you are currently focused on in your role as a volunteer?

I’m always trying to find ways to serve youth that aligns with their needs. I want to see their needs from their perspective to better serve them. Right now, it’s difficult to connect online so I’m finding other ways to connect (i.e. via text) and deepen my knowledge of what they’re going through.

If you could encourage someone else to volunteer at our organization, what do you wish they knew about Reality Changers?

I wish people knew that there are real stories happening at Reality Changers. Getting to know the youth on a personal level and seeing how their stories make them different, as they each have unique backgrounds, is a reason to volunteer with Reality Changers. Getting to know these stories helps you understand a new dimension of Reality Changers’ work and gives you a deeper understanding of Reality Changers’ mission.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you.

I’m from the San Diego – Tijuana border. When people get to know me they want to attach an identity to me, that I’m from one side or the other, but I am from both sides of the border. I grew up as a child in Tijuana, but at 6 years old I moved to San Diego so I identify with both places.

Anything else you want to share about volunteering at Reality Changers?

I’m always doing a lot of things between work and other projects. It’s hard to say yes to volunteering and commit to something else. However, volunteering at Reality Changers is not just about connecting with the students. There are so many more benefits of being a part of a new community. As volunteers, not only do we get to connect deeply with the stories of the students, but we also get to connect with the Reality Changers community. I’ve had an opportunity to meet other professionals in the San Diego community and see the impact they are having in San Diego. Volunteering at Reality Changers gives me a chance to connect with like-minded individuals.

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Student Spotlight: Yosief Abraham https://realitychangers.org/blog/2020/04/student-spotlight-yosief-abraham/ Wed, 08 Apr 2020 16:08:33 +0000 https://realitychangers.org/?p=14882 Read More

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Joined Reality Changers in 9th Grade
Currently in 11th Grade

What initially brought you to Reality Changers?

I was first introduced to Reality Changers through my sister. I decided to follow in her footsteps and join the Reality Changers family after seeing how involved and intricate they were in my sister’s life. Reality Changers provided community service on the weekends, tutoring on weekdays, and summer enrichment programs. Most importantly, my sister received an experienced mentor dedicated to providing support to students. I was most intrigued with the Achievement Coaches who genuinely cared for each and every student. The support and genuine care is what drew me to Reality Changers.

Why does Reality Changers matter to you? To your family?

I gain so much from Reality Changers. To me, Reality Changers is a place where I am provided a safe place to do homework and receive academic support. It is a place where I can meet cool high schoolers from all over San Diego and foster relationships with them. This is a program geared towards ensuring that me and my peers are adequately prepared to enter and succeed in college. Reality Changers truly makes an impact in my life and it matters greatly to me and my family. This program will pave the pathway for me to become a first generation college student.

How has COVID-19 affected you and your family?

COVID-19 has negatively affected me and my family. I am enrolled in three Advanced Placement (AP) classes and studying for 3 standardized tests (ACT, SAT, SBAC). I feel overwhelmingly unprepared for these upcoming exams being that COVID-19 and the policies inspired by the virus limits instructional time with my teachers. Furthermore, my mother is the sole provider in our household and she was laid off from her job at the airport. Not only did her employer refuse to provide work and/or pay her during the two weeks of leave, but also assumed that she would be off from work much longer as COVID-19 cases multiply. Being in a household with no current income will be a grave indicator of whether or not we will persist through these unprecedented times.

How does Reality Changers provide support for you and family now?

Even through these times of hysteria, Reality Changers provides positive messaging and strong communication through virtual support, telephone, text, and email. The Reality Changers’ staff standby, maintaining their post in service of any questions or concerns my family and I may have. Prior to COVID-19 dangers, Reality Changers would provide my family and I with a safe place to do work, tutoring, food, friendships, standardized testing prep, and college admissions information. In addition, I would receive college/financial aid information and companionship for my parents. I would like for Reality Changers to continue their work for others in need to become a first generation student like me.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Kevin Wong https://realitychangers.org/blog/2020/03/volunteer-spotlight-kevin-wong/ Tue, 24 Mar 2020 15:57:38 +0000 https://realitychangers.org/?p=14861 Read More

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Kevin Wong dedicated more than 1000+ hours over the past 9 years with the majority of his hours spent tutoring our College Town students.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I joined Reality Changers (RC) as a volunteer through UCSD’s Circle K group in 2011. I received my Bachelor’s degree from UCSD and a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins. I have recently moved to the Bay Area to work as a scientist at Impossible Foods.

What made this volunteer experience meaningful to you?

It felt like I was having an impact. I could see the impact I had on students as I watched them grow from freshmen to seniors and the smiles they had as they held up their college sweatshirts at the Scholarship Celebration. When I see them over time at events, such as the Alumni Network reunions, I can see the impact that I had. 

Tell us about a time that was especially meaningful for you as a Reality Changers volunteer?

Before I began as a tutor I had an opportunity to attend Forest Home in 2011. Shoutout to Michael Gaulden for sharing his story as it was extremely moving and impactful.

How did volunteering at Reality Changers have an impact on you?

I developed a “pay it forward” mindset. I invested in students’ futures and relationships with them. Students would communicate with me when they needed something and that’s how I knew that I had not only developed trust with them but I was having an impact.

What is the most memorable accomplishment(s) of your volunteer experience?

Almost 10 years of Tuesday night dinners! But really, seeing students graduate from Reality Changers and move on and to seeing them graduate from college. Those were the most rewarding experiences.

If you could encourage someone else to volunteer, what would you say?

It’s about the impact and bonds you make just by showing up. It feels like a family to have young people who look up to you–they’re like my little brothers and sisters.

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Reality Changers COVID-19 Response (updated October 2020) https://realitychangers.org/blog/2020/03/reality-changers-covid-19-response/ Fri, 13 Mar 2020 22:32:23 +0000 https://realitychangers.org/?p=14816 Read More

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At Reality Changers, we believe in the power and resiliency of community—especially during difficult times.

Like many of you, we have adapted our lives and our operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, the well-being of our students, our families, our volunteers, and our team remains our top priority.

Below are the adjustments we have made, beginning March, 16th 2020:

  • All staff are working remotely. We have assembled resources and tools to help our team continue to be successful while working away from the office.
  • Our programs are being conducted online, with some support services being provided in-person, but in a socially distanced manner. See below for more details.

We will continue to assess the situation and make adjustments based on what is best for our community. This includes following the public health guidance of the CDC and government officials.

At this time, we are especially aware of the needs of students with fewer financial resources, limited or no access to technology, and those experiencing housing or food insecurity.

We will continue to be a resource for our youth and families. We trust that these precautions will help all of us to stay safe and healthy.

We appreciate your understanding, flexibility, and support during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Tamara Y. Craver

Tamara Y. Craver
President & CEO
Reality Changers

Reality Changers is focused on balancing public health needs with the organization’s essential work. We will continue communicating with our stakeholders and updating contingency plans as the COVID-19 outbreak evolves. Our office will remain closed until further notice. Please continue to monitor this page for ongoing updates and resources and email info@realitychangers.org with any specific questions you may have.

General Updates:

  • All Reality Changers meetings and lessons are being conducted online.
  • Reality Changers has invested in online platforms and services to improve virtual program delivery and remote staff productivity.
  • We have increased our emphasis on mental health and self-care in youth and family programming.
  • School supplies and Reality Changers goodies were delivered to students at the beginning of the school year.

College Town Updates:

  • College Town programs continue to be held virtually. As of August 31st, we are supporting students in the following areas:
    • College Readiness: 6-7pm on the first Tuesday of every month
    • Tutoring: 7-9pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
  • Our volunteer tutors have been trained to serve as Accountability Partners and are checking in with students 2-3 times per week to ensure that they are keeping up with their schoolwork in the virtual learning environment.
  • We have partnered with David’s Harp Foundation and some students are using their facility as a space for doing schoolwork during the day. Participating students and supporting staff are practicing social distancing and wearing masks.
  • Students needing assistance or resources can make an appointment for a one-on-one video session or phone call directly with their Achievement Coach.

College Apps Academy Updates:

  • College Apps Academy meets online weekly.
  • Instructors have piloted the use of new technology to meet the needs of the digital space. They are using Google Classroom to organize content for students, Kahoot! to engage students in lessons, and Mote to leave voice notes on student essays.
  • Instructors host online office hours to video chat with individual students.
  • Our campus and community partners have been conducting virtual college tours, writing workshops, and information sessions for our students.

Alumni Network Updates:

  • Alumni network programs, including College Ambassador Program meetings, the Real Talk series, and career mentorship, continue to be held online.
  •  Students and graduates needing advising assistance can make phone or video call appointments directly with Alumni Network staff. Please reach out to the following staff members:

Resources: (We will continue to update this list as we learn of information, free services, and more resources)

Employment & Insurance

Housing & Legal Aid

Food

Technology & Utilities

Additional Resources

Other Information Sources

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Scholarships 101 https://realitychangers.org/blog/2020/02/scholarships-101/ Thu, 27 Feb 2020 22:53:23 +0000 https://realitychangers.org/?p=14711 Read More

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“Apply for scholarships. Every year, there is FREE MONEY for college available.”

You’ve probably heard this from your teachers, counselors, classmates, friends, and family members.

But do you know where to look for scholarships? “Google” is not the answer. Not everything you read online is valid or credible.

With so many websites and organizations out there, it can be difficult to know when a scholarship is real and legitimate from the thousands of scams trying to steal your identity and money. 

That being said, we recommend starting the scholarship search by connecting with your high school counselor or college’s financial aid office. They have a wealth of information about scholarship opportunities and resources. They can provide you with safe scholarship databases and links to use. You can go to your school’s website to see if there is a webpage dedicated to scholarships. It is usually found under the “Academics” or “Counseling” section of a high school website or “Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships” of a college website.

To look for more opportunities, ask about scholarships through your school clubs, community organizations, local churches, local businesses, your job, or your parents’ jobs. There are some scholarship applications that are only accepted by mail and not available online. Seems unbelievable to you in 2020, right?  So don’t overlook and skip out on these opportunities. One suggestion is to visit your local public library to ask about different scholarship applications available. 

If you want to independently search online for scholarships on scholarship databases, remember that you should be able to find that same scholarship and application on multiple websites. If you don’t, you may have to further investigate the credibility of the scholarship. Here are some recommended databases:

Lastly, here are some overall tips to remember when searching for scholarships:

  1. DO NOT pay for scholarships or “membership” to scholarship databases. You never, ever, need to pay for a scholarship application fee. Free means free.

  2. DO NOT share your Social Security number, bank/debit card number, or credit card information. This information allows scammers to easily steal from you.

  3. DO check the credibility and validity of the scholarship and/or organization. If you are unsure, check with your school or college advisor.

  4. DO pay attention to the details. You should focus on scholarships that match your skills and interests. Some scholarships are open to certain grade levels, some require written essays and others require letters of recommendation.

Now that you know where to find scholarships, take the next step and apply for FREE MONEY!

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Financial Aid: FAFSA & Dream Act Application https://realitychangers.org/blog/2019/10/financial-aid-fafsa-dream-act-application/ Tue, 01 Oct 2019 17:44:53 +0000 https://realitychangers.org/?p=13815 Read More

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Happy October! Although some people celebrate this month as the start of fall, pumpkin spice season, or the only month eating candy corn for breakfast is appropriate, those here at College Apps Academy know October is Financial Aid Month! Afterall, October 1 is the day that the financial aid applications, the FAFSA (or Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the California Dream Act Application open up. It is important to fill these applications out early, as colleges often give out financial aid on a first come, first serve basis. 

To start, the first thing you need to do is determine whether you will complete the FAFSA or the California Dream Act Application. It is important to note that you will complete one or the other, never both! The FAFSA is the application for federal student aid like Pell Grants and federal student loans. You are eligible to complete the FAFSA if you are a US citizen, permanent resident, eligible non-citizen or a T-Visa Holder. The California Dream Act Application (CaDAA) is an application for private scholarships, university grants and California state aid like the Cal Grant. You are eligible for the CaDAA if you are undocumented, have a valid or expired Visa, have Temporary Protective Status (TPS), be a U Visa holder or meet the non-resident exemption requirementes under AB 540. 

Still confused? Click here for FAQs about the Dream Act Application or here for FAQs about the FAFSA.

Now that you know whether you will be completing the FAFSA or the Dream Act Application, there are some items you need to gather to prepare for the application. 

  1. A list of schools you are planning to apply to; On the Dream Act Application and the FAFSA, you will have to identify which schools you would like your financial aid application to be sent to. Have that list ready before you begin applying!
     
  2. Your 2018 tax records and the tax records of your parent(s)/guardian(s): The financial aid applications for the 2020-2021 school year requires tax information.

  3. Records of any untaxed income earned by family or any assets the family has: the questions about untaxed income and assets may or may not apply to you but they are important to think about. Untaxed income includes things like child support received, interest income and veteran’s benefits. Assets include checking and savings account balances and the value of investments like stocks and bonds and real estate (excluding the home your family lives in).

  4. Your driver’s license number if you have one (if you don’t – no worries, just skip this step).

  5. FOR FAFSA ONLY – you will need an FSA ID (this is basically just a fancy name for username) and a password. You can create this at fsaid.ed.gov. Your parent or guardian will also need to create this if they are a US citizen. If they are not, they will not need an FSA ID. In order to create an FSA ID (remember, it’s just your FAFSA username) you will need your social security number. Please make sure you type it in accurately and record your FSA ID and password so you don’t forget it! 

Once you gather these items, you are ready to rock and roll! While filling out your financial aid application, remember to read all the directions, take your time and ask questions if you get stuck! 

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MEET OUR UCSD COLLEGE AMBASSADOR https://realitychangers.org/blog/2019/09/meet-our-ucsd-college-ambassador/ Tue, 24 Sep 2019 16:00:23 +0000 https://realitychangers.org/?p=13678 Read More

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We are excited to launch the pilot year of our College Ambassador Program at three local universities: CSU San Marcos, UC San Diego, and San Diego State. The College Ambassador Program is designed to empower upper class students to take on leadership roles as mentors and help provide incoming first-year students a successful transition to college. 

Our College Ambassadors are trained in mentorship, practical leadership, and community building skills so that they are prepared to help first-generation students strengthen their self confidence, find their voice, and grow into pillars of support that future program graduates can aspire toward.

We are proud to introduce our UC San Diego College Ambassador!

Thuy-Hong Nguyen
UCSD College Ambassador
RC Class of 2015, UCSD Pre-Med Postbaccalaureate Program
ucsdambassador@realitychangers.org
(619) 757-5509

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Thuy (pronounced like “twee”). I was an RC College Apps Academy alum in 2014-15, and RC is one of the main reasons I grew to be the person I am today! I just graduated in June 2019 with a degree in Public Health from UCSD and am currently a student in the UCSD Pre-Med Postbaccalaureate Program. During my undergrad at UCSD, some of my involvements included being an OASIS Summer Bridge student, a resident advisor, research assistant, OASIS Math & Science Tutorial Program Workshop Facilitator, and have worked for Summer Bridge in various positions as well. I hope to one day attend medical school and become a family doctor—this has always been my one of biggest dreams. I was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the U.S. with my family when I was five years old. I grew up in City Heights, and my favorite thing to do when I’m back home is eating at the amazing restaurants there! My hobbies include trying new foods, fashion, running, and looking at memes! My favorite things to do while at UCSD is explore the beach and chill at my favorite secret spots on campus (ask me about them when we meet! I’ll show you!).

What are you most looking forward to as an ambassador?
Meeting and connecting with incoming UCSD students/RC Alum!

Three Fun Facts?
• I can play the Titanic theme song on the piano with my eyes closed
• I’ve been skydiving three times this last year
• I recently learned how to play Minecraft!

Favorite Quote?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’” – Wayne Gretsky’
– Michael Scott

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MEET OUR SDSU COLLEGE AMBASSADOR https://realitychangers.org/blog/2019/09/meet-our-sdsu-college-ambassador/ Mon, 09 Sep 2019 16:00:10 +0000 https://realitychangers.org/?p=13674 Read More

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We are excited to launch the pilot year of our College Ambassador Program at three local universities: CSU San Marcos, UC San Diego, and San Diego State. The College Ambassador Program is designed to empower upper class students to take on leadership roles as mentors and help provide incoming first-year students a successful transition to college. 

Our College Ambassadors are trained in mentorship, practical leadership, and community building skills so that they are prepared to help first-generation students strengthen their self confidence, find their voice, and grow into pillars of support that future program graduates can aspire toward.

We are proud to introduce our SDSU College Ambassador!

Hanna Olfoche
SDSU College Ambassador
RC Class of 2016, SDSU Class of 2021, Psychology

sdsuambassador@realitychangers.org
(619) 630-7819

Tell us about yourself.
Hello, my name is Hanna Olfoche. I am a 4th year Psychology major at San Diego State University (SDSU) on the Pre-Medical track. I was born and raised in San Diego, CA and graduated from Scripps Ranch High School and Reality Changers in 2016. Upon arriving at SDSU I quickly immersed myself into campus-life and signed up for every club that resonated with me. I am excited to see what this next academic year has in store for me as the Reality Changers SDSU Ambassador, I look forward to working with new Reality Changers alumni that are now SDSU’s newest incoming class.

What are you most looking forward to as an ambassador?
I look forward to meeting and interacting with all the new first years at SDSU and making their transition into college a fun and memorable experience!

Three Fun Facts?
• I am bilingual in both English and Amharic
• I’ve traveled more in my college career alone than I have my entire life
• I love Grey’s Anatomy

Favorite Quote?
“I raise up my voice– not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard… we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” – Malala Yousafzai

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Meet our CSU San Marcos College Ambassador https://realitychangers.org/blog/2019/08/meet-our-csu-san-marcos-college-ambassador/ Mon, 26 Aug 2019 15:14:34 +0000 https://realitychangers.org/?p=13439 Read More

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We are excited to launch the pilot year of our College Ambassador Program at three local universities: CSU San Marcos, UC San Diego, and San Diego State. The College Ambassador Program is designed to empower upper class students to take on leadership roles as mentors and help provide incoming first-year students a successful transition to college. 

Our College Ambassadors are trained in mentorship, practical leadership, and community building skills so that they are prepared to help first-generation students strengthen their self confidence, find their voice, and grow into pillars of support that future program graduates can aspire toward.

We are proud to introduce our CSU San Marcos College Ambassador!

Jacqueline Garcia
CSU San Marcos College Ambassador
RC Class of 2016, CSUSM Class of 2020, Sociology
csusmambassador@csusm.edu

Tell us about yourself. 
Hello, my name is Jacqueline Garcia and I will be a senior at California State University, San Marcos. I will be majoring in Sociology and minoring in Communications spring of 2020. I was born and raised in sunny San Diego, California. I am a Point Loma High School and Reality Changers alumni class of 2016. I am a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success on campus which is the nation’s largest leadership honor society. My family is my daily motivation to keep thriving and succeeding in life no matter the obstacles I may encounter along the way. I aspire to receive my Master’s Degree in Social Work to either become an academic school counselor or a medical social worker. I am excited to be able to provide my skills and knowledge to the incoming freshmen at CSUSM. 

What are you most looking forward to as an ambassador?
I am looking forward to providing support to the incoming Reality Changers students by helping them transition into an exciting and unforgettable environment that will turn into their new home.

Three Fun Facts?
I am the youngest out of five sisters
I was born a 13 pound baby
I recently traveled to Europe for the first time with my best friend
in the summer of ‘19

Favorite Quote?
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Confucius 

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