Get to know our amazing 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 Education Is Forever Scholars, and please consider making a donation to help fund the 2019-20 Education Is Forever Scholarship Cohort.
2018-19 Education Is Forever Scholars
Gricelda Arias is a graduate of Mary B. Henry Academy YouthBuild in South L.A. She is 24 years-old and the mother of a 5 year old little girl. She left high school when she was 15 years-old after her father was deported. Her mother made the tough decision of moving their family to live in Mexico. While living in Mexico, Gricelda was unable to go to school and didn't have the opportunity to earn credits or work towards her diploma. When she finally decided to come back to the U.S., she thought it was too late for her to get her high school diploma. However, when she learned about YouthBuild Charter School of California, she realized she had found a second chance. "Even though I’m 24, I can proudly say I GRADUATED! Mary B. Henry YouthBuild made it possible for me to graduate, and they were judgment free," she says. "They believed in me, and for that I am thankful. I plan on using the scholarship money to buy school supplies and books that are needed for school. I will attend Trade Tech in the fall and I’m very much excited to start college!"
Christian Arnold is a graduate of YCSC's Fresno campus at the Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps. He is twenty years old and the father of a beautiful two-year-old girl. He says, "All my hard work and continuous drive to excel in my education... will make me great role model for my daughter." Christian is attending Fresno City College, where he is studying journalism. He is an aspiring writer, saying, "I can't help but feel a huge excitement for the places I might go and the things I will do." When asked to share a message of inspiration, Christian said, "Continue to shoot for what it is you love to do; no matter what, you hold the power over your success, so never let a hardship become your downfall."
Oscar Alejandro Arriola is a graduate from the South Los Angeles YouthBuild Charter School site (CRCD Academy). He thanks all the amazing people from YouthBuild for always believing and encouraging him to accomplish his goals. He is currently a freshman at Los Angeles Trade Tech College and is working towards an AST in Administration of Justice. His plan is to transfer to a Cal State and earn his bachelor's degree in Criminology, followed by completing his graduate program at a UC. His goal is to make his career in law enforcement at the federal level and make sure that he works for the people; after all, he is one of the people! He is going to use his scholarship money towards buying a car, which will cut down his current commuting situation and allow him greater time to focus on the club he is part of and study for his classes. In his free time, he enjoys watching movies, paintballing, going to the shooting range, and volunteering at the Veteran's Village Recovery Center on holidays in Long Beach, CA.
Brianna Beecher graduated from YouthBuild Charter School's Fresno site in June 2018. She is a proud mom of two boys and two girls. It was very important for Brianna to graduate from YouthBuild Charter because earning her high school diploma was one of her main goals. Now she is achieving her dream of furthering her education by attending Fresno City College. Brianna says her family gives her inspiration to pursue an education and fulfill her dream of becoming an ultrasound tech. Brianna said, "When I look back and think about the world I came from, I realize I have had challenges while growing up, but those challenges became inspiration to me in many ways. I have inspiration from my challenges to not let things stop me from doing what I have always wanted to do. I am going to fulfill my dreams. I also look back and I am kind of grateful for going through those things because without going through them, it wouldn’t have made me the strong person I am today and to want more in life and to succeed and to grow."
Edgar Gonzalez (2nd-year scholar)
Edgar M. Gonzalez was born in Michoacan, Mexico but migrated to LA as a child seeking a better life. He currently attends Santa Monica City College where he's majoring in Political Science. He hopes to one day become a politician. Edgar has been very involved in college and in his community. He is the Founder and Vice President of the Homegirl and Homeboy Scholars of SMC, the Co-Founder of Children Over Politics (where he fundraised $17,000), a member of the Brown Berets, and Vice President of the Associated Students of Santa Monica College. He is also a full time McDonald's employee and organizer with the Fight for $15 LA campaign and SEIU 721. He hopes to transfer to UCLA after completing his credits at SMC. He wants to change the world for the better and help the proletariat. He is inspired by socialism and his one-year-old daughter. In his free time, he likes to record and produce music or attend political events.
Gloria Gonzalez is a graduate of YouthBuild Charter's Inglewood campus at the Youth Justice Coalition/ Free LA High School. As a proud Latina from South Central Los Angeles, Gloria credits YCSC/Free LA High for providing her with the people, spaces and resources to survive the struggle within her community. She is twenty-two years old and the mother to a beautiful two-year-old named Violet. Her passion revolves around youth development and building alternative opportunities for youth to end the school to prison pipeline. She says that her inspiration to assist her community came from having an abundance of family and friends being incarcerated and very few resources in her community. Gloria was bullied mercilessly in middle school by the same boy, and after many months, she eventually stood up for herself. After she told him to leave her alone and stop bulling her, he tried to beat her up. As she tried to run from him and jump the fence surrounding her school, a police officer caught her and told her to climb down. The officer then told her he was going to arrest her as an example of "what happens to students who break rules." Gloria was transferred to another school miles away from her home and given a citation of $500. She went to court four times to plead not guilty, but at the end of the third court date her mom told her she couldn't take any more days from work because her boss was threatening to fire her if continued to miss work. As a result, after her fourth court date, Gloria had no choice but to plead guilty. This meant that she couldn't get a drivers license until the ticket was paid. This experience is what motivated her to pursue a career fighting for justice. Her future goals are to create a space where formerly incarcerated and system impacted youth and young mothers can create their own craft, market it, and earn their own income. She serves on the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, completed a program called Public Allies, and is currently attending Los Angeles Trade Tech College.
Skye is a graduate of Home Sweet Home YouthBuild in Hollywood. Skye was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. Skye is the oldest of three and has two brothers. At fourteen, Skye moved back to New York due to sickness in the family. Skye attended an arts high school in New York but didn’t feel happy there. So Skye bought a one-way to ticket to LA to pursue a passion for modeling. At only sixteen with four thousands followers Instagram followers, Skye began to start a modeling career. Don’t let Skye's looks fool you! Skye actively does groups with homeless and foster youth. Skye said, "I originally had no desire to go on to college. Youthbuild Charter School of California and Home Sweet Home has changed that for me." Skye is currently attending Santa Monica College for esthetics and plans to transfer to UCLA for nursing. Skye said, "My experiences as a homeless trans non-binary youth fuel my desire to further my education and become a healthcare professional who gives back to the community. I can say from first-hand experience that many independent trans youth like me do not continue with school due to lack of finances and acceptance from their families and peers. I see very few trans people in the healthcare field. It is my hope to change that."
Naol Kebede is a graduate of South Los Angeles YouthBuild (CRCD Academy). When he was in 12th grade, Naol left Ethiopia to come to the US, where he was able to earn his diploma at YouthBuild Charter School. Naol describes his experience at YouthBuild as the first step to his big future. One moment he won’t forget was the beach extracurricular activity. He said that all the support he received from the unforgettable people at YouthBuild will inspire him for the rest of his journey. He will use the scholarship to cover his school expenses and transportation. He believes every opportunity needs to be seized at the right time-- a lesson he learned from the people at YouthBuild. In his free time, Naol likes to socialize and get involved in activities that benefit his community. He's currently studying Biology at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He plans to be a great doctor.
Tyler Langrehr was born in Palm Springs. Sometime after his birth, Tyler's family moved to a small town in Arizona, where he was raised with his 3 brothers and one sister. While living in Parker, Tyler attended school all the way up to his freshman year of high school. During his time there, he played football, fishing, and riding dirt bikes, but he felt disconnected. As the months went by, he started to lose interest in school and wanted to earn some money for himself. He dropped out of school and took job after job for the next 2 years, enjoying the independence it gave him. I never looked back in that time and earned myself some independence. Tyler has enjoyed working on cars ever since his grandpa offered to teach him how to work on a car engine when he was 12. "The second I turned a wrench under the hood, I knew that this was for me," Tyler said. "When I spend my time under a hood of a car, everything disappears in the world and all that is left is me and the car." As time went on, Tyler started to question whether Parker was the place where big opportunities ever happened. That thought rang in his head every day for a month. He finally came to the conclusion that Parker was not the place for him to get the opportunities he needed. "What I really needed was a fresh start," he said. So he decided to join his extended family in Bakersfield, where he could finish school and continue his education. A few months after moving to Bakersfield, he found YouthBuild Charter School of California. After being out of school for three years, Tyler was able to graduate from YouthBuild Charter School after 9 months. Tyler had this to share about his YouthBuild Charter experience: "This school has helped me out more than I could have ever thought. It is also one of the best schools I have ever attended. YouthBuild has all of the public schools beat when it comes the staff and teachers. From the start, they have pushed me and encouraged me to be successful in school and in life, teaching me new skills and a new way at looking at life. I don’t think I could have done all that I have without them." Tyler is currently attending Bakersfield College, and he plans to transfer to California State University Bakersfield to study Mechanical Engineering.
John Rodriguez is a graduate of the Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps. He said that finally accomplishing his goal of earning his diploma was not easy and that struggle after struggle put him to a halt many times. He credits his father and mother for keeping him motivated. John is glad to say it was all well worth it in the end. "YouthBuild gave me the insight needed to discover my potential," he said. "YouthBuild saw what I was capable of and set me on a path to discover my capabilities." He explained that the insight given to him at YouthBuild has put him on a path that, until recently, he had not even thought he could pursue. Now John can honestly say he ready for the real world and making it the best for his daughter and himself. He is currently studying welding at Fresno City College. "Welding has always been an interest to me," said John, whose father was an avid welder who turned that passion into a career. He hopes to pursue a degree in engineering as well. "I don't know how everything is going to turn out, but I do know I am going to give it my all."
Alejandro Sanchez Barajas
Alejandro Sanchez is a graduate of EOC Fresno LCC YouthBuild. The time he spent there was one of the best experiences in his life. Alejandro appreciates all the teachers and staff because he knew he could always count on them for support. Alejandro is currently attending Fresno City College, and his dream is to become a veterinarian. He will use his scholarship money to help pay for his college fees and other necessities. Alejandro is inspired by everyone around him at YouthBuild Charter School because everyone is trying to get their high school diploma and improve themselves. He has made lasting friendships that will carry on into college. During his free time, Alejandro enjoys spending as much time with his dogs as possible.
Nestor Sanchez was born in Yorba Linda, California. Due to financial troubles during his eighth grade year, he moved to Fresno, but after two years in high school, he dropped out. "For two long years I was throwing my life away," he said. Nestor and his mom needed food, so he would help out at a community food bank where he felt like he was doing something important. After months of helping out there, Nestor overheard one of the staff members talking about a program where you could acquire a high school diploma and gain some employment experience. He said that his first thought was, “Oh my goodness! I need to act on this and ask the lady for more information about this program." She asked Nestor if he had a high school diploma or a job, and he explained that he did not. She gave him papers to fill out and the date to return for the orientation. Nestor was terrified to take this leap of faith. He said, "I was uneducated, so I knew this new environment was going to be grueling for me since I was very antisocial and I never had a job." Nestor said he had difficulties communicating and asserting himself at first, but he decided to focus on himself because he knew this new road was going to be difficult. However, he began to flourish at YouthBuild. As the time drew closer and closer to his graduation, he realized it was time to pick a career. During the previous year, he had served on the SEKI crew (Sequoia & Kings Canyon), which involved working in the woods all week during the summer. SEKI's specialty is to making trails from scratch, felling trees, bucking, construction of fences, digging trenches, hiking miles to a worksite, going into back country, and staying at that location for a month. After the summer was done, Nestor still didn’t know what he wanted to become. He asked himself, “What am I good at? What do I love doing?” That’s when it hit him, literally. "From that moment I recognized that I wanted a career in Fire Service," said Nestor, who plans to obtain a job at the Forest Service. Nestor's plan is to work for a season, save enough money, and then study at Reedley College. His major will be Forestry and Natural Resources. After finishing that program, he plans to work for another year at the Forest Service to gain the experience needed to join the Sierra Hotshots. "Well, at least that's my plan" said Nestor, "but life is life and anything can happen. All I know is that I’m going to try my best at everything that I do."
Alex Villa is a 26-year-old graduate of YCSC's Fresno campus. Alex is passionate about skateboarding. "After 13 years, it has really turned into my second nature. I can’t go anywhere without my skateboard," he said. Skateboarding gave Alex a sense of freedom within himself that he could not find anywhere else. In fact, skateboarding has led him down a career path to become an architectural engineer. He chose this field of study for many reasons, but was motivated by the fact that his town currently has no indoor skate parks. "Coming from a skater’s perspective, it’s a bummer always trying to find somewhere dry to skate," said Alex, "and half the time we get kicked out because it's either somewhere we can’t or shouldn’t be skating." Alex wants to become an architectural engineer so that he can build his own skate shop from the ground up with its own indoor skate park. That way skateboarders young and old could have somewhere safe to skate and learn together and somewhere they can skate on those rainy days. Alex wants to turn the old buildings and warehouses in his town into something new that could bring the community closer together. "I believe skateboarding can bring together people of all races," said Alex. "There’s no discrimination between skaters, and I have met a lot of my closest friends because of skateboarding. My heart tells me I can create a place to bring people together through skateboarding." Alex is currently taking classes at Fresno City College.
Not pictured: Shonnishia Hall, Felix Martinez, Yadira Refugio, Amber Robertson, Lania Whiteside, Kevinisha Winston, & Brielle Wolfe
2017-18 Education Is Forever Scholars
Kenny Altamirano (2nd-year scholar)
Kenny Altamirano is a graduate of CCEO YouthBuild in Lennox, who believes that YouthBuild changed his life. YouthBuild recognized his identity, his character, his potential, and his humanity and gave him the tools to be successful student. He recently graduated with his AA Degree from Los Angeles Southwest College and accepted a full ride scholarship to attend Cal State Los Angeles’s Illustration Program. He will graduate next year with his B.A.in Animation. He’s used the scholarship to pay for school supplies and to buy a car to get to and from school. He is also a graduate from Streetcraft LA and has showcased his work at several galleries and museums in Los Angeles, including: the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) at Barnsdall Park, and the SoLA Gallery. His inspiration is his mentor, Emily Bautista, and Aaron Scholl; both of these people have motivated, encouraged, and nurtured him. In Kenny’s free time, he loves to listen to music and read comic books.
Jessica Christian is a graduate of Rising Stars Business Academy in Moreno Valley. One of her favorite memories was the week after mental toughness when they all celebrated with a barbecue and music. She plans to study animal science and use her scholarship for books, school supplies, and transportation. Her mother is her inspiration because she works hard for her every day, making sure that she has all the things she needs. In addition, her mother tells her every day that she should be herself because she is unique, wonderfully made, and able to do anything she sets her mind to. In her free time, Jessica volunteers, attends church, and is a part of a step team.
Alex Cruz is a graduate of EOC Fresno Youthbuild who initially enrolled because of all the great things he’d heard about it. Alex grew to appreciate his teachers at YouthBuild because he felt like he could always count on them to provide genuine support. He is currently working toward a degree in accounting and is using his scholarship to help pay for college fees and transportation costs. Alex’s perseverance is inspired by his dad, a double leg amputee, who, with determination and hard work, learned to walk on prosthetics. In his free time, Alex likes to play basketball, draw, and spend time with his newborn child.
Amethyst Ewing is a graduate of YouthBuild Charter School’s Inglewood site at Youth Justice Coalition. A memory that stands out to her is the first community action event she ever attended. It was unlike anything she’d ever been a part of; although she didn’t know what to do at first, she loved it. Her dream is to become a licensed vocational nurse, and she used her scholarship to pay for classes at Cerro Coso Community College. Her inspiration in life is her siblings - everything she does is for them. She’ll do everything in her power to set a good example, make sure they have a better life, and show them that a person’s past doesn’t define their work. In her free time, Amethyst enjoys concerts, travel, and community activism.
Sheila Fonseca is a graduate of LA CAUSA YouthBuild in East LA. She was born in Mexico, and is a native Spanish speaker. She appreciated the YouthBuild staff-- who supported her when she needed it the most. She said that even the teachers who did not speak Spanish worked with her to help her. She noted a specific memory of a teacher who told her he would help her learn English, and she was happy to know he had her back. She is currently enrolled at East Los Angeles College, and she plans to use her scholarship on a sewing machine because she wants to study fashion design. She also plans to use funds to take ESL classes or additional art classes because she likes to draw. Her inspiration is her mother because she sees how hard her mother works every day to give her best and provide for her children, including giving them a good education and good food to eat. She hopes that one day, she can give back to her mother, so her mother can enjoy all of the things she had to sacrifice for her children. Sheila enjoys drawing and creating fashion designs in her free time.
Erick Nelson is a graduate of YouthBuild Inland Empire in San Bernardino. His favorite memory from YouthBuild was his first week. It was an exhilarating and joyful experience to be with a group of students who were all working toward the goal of their high school diploma. He plans to major in marketing or business administration and purchased a laptop with his scholarship funds. He finds inspiration in every person he comes into contact with because he believes that every person has something to teach him. In his free time, he plays (and loves!) baseball, basketball, and MMA. In addition, Erick is passionate about science and making a difference in his community.
Erick Rodriguez is a graduate from Field of Dreams Learning in Norwalk, and though he has many great memories, one in particular that stands out was a time they went camping at Big Pine. That trip was his first time camping, and he was able to build closer relationships with the staff and his peers. He plans to become an electrician and will use his scholarship on a trade school. His older brother, Juan, is his inspiration because Juan has helped to support their family since 16 and then joined the Air Force at 18. Juan showed him that they do not have to represent the struggle they’ve lived and taught him how to be a better man. In his free time, Erick enjoys paintballing, volunteering, and music.
Beatriz Velasquez is a graduate of South Los Angeles YouthBuild, which was one of the best experiences of her life. To her, all the staff are pure exemplars of love and care who are superheroes that make a difference in many young people’s lives. They are a part of her family for life. She plans to major in international business and used her scholarship toward her textbooks and book codes. Her inspiration is everyone around her because everyone and everything is an opportunity to find inspiration. In her free time, Beatriz enjoys poetry, volunteering, community activism, and learning new languages.
Not pictured: Jairo Ortega, Anaisa Ramirez, and Jonathan Solis
2016-17 Education Is Forever Scholars
Alina Guerra was born in El Sereno, CA and raised in El Sereno/East Los Angeles. She graduated from CÁLO YouthBuild (YouthBuild Charter’s Boyle Height’s campus) in June 2016. She is currently attending California Miramar University where she is studying Business. After earning her degree, Alina hopes attend USC to receive her Masters in Social Work. What keeps her striving is the promise she made to her grandma before she passed, which was to be the first one in the family to attend college, make it big, and get out of the struggle.
Fernanda Garcia was born and raised in South Los Angeles. She is 25 years old and currently attending Los Angeles Trade Technical College as a freshman. She graduated and obtained her high school diploma from YouthBuild Charter School of California's South LA site at CRCD. She is proud to be the first in her family to obtain a high school diploma and enroll in college. Although her major is currently undecided, Fernanda knows she wants to be in a field that allows her to help others somehow. What keeps her going is the passion to become educated because she knows that with an education she can have a better future. She is happy to be surrounded by people who support her and motivate her to give it her all, so that she can obtain her degree.
Saul Castano is 18 years old and was born and raised in South Los Angeles. He is a graduate of YouthBuild Charter School's South LA campus at All People's Community Center. Saul is currently attending Abraham Friedman Occupational Center where he is taking a Graphic Design class. While enrolled at YouthBuild Charter, Saul participated in CODEchella, where he learned how to code in HTML and CSS. After completing his class at Friedman, Saul plans to enroll at Los Angeles City College and eventually transfer to UCLA for Graphic Design and Animation. He chose those fields of study because he finds it amazing how people can create different worlds and experiences with computer technology.
Jose "Niko" Salas
Niko Salas was born in Compton and raised in Inglewood and Lennox, CA. After coming out during his freshman year of high school, Niko experienced animosity at home, causing him to lose focus on school and his future. After three years of struggling to find stable housing and working jobs that were going nowhere, Niko found CCEO YouthBuild in Lennox. At YouthBuild, Niko was afforded many opportunities and grew into a natural leader. He graduated as Salutatorian of his program in 2013. After graduating from YouthBuild, Niko served for two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at YouthBuild Charter, where he was in charge of alumni relations. He currently works for CCEO YouthBuild. Niko also serves on the YouthBuild California State Alumni Council, which aims to encourage alumni and future graduates to take leadership roles in their communities by developing voices and action for change. He is currently attending El Camino College and hopes to one day become a director of his own YouthBuild program.
Kenny Altamirano is from Gardena/Inglewood, CA and graduated from YouthBuild Charter School of California in 2011. A recipient of the Janis Matero Art Scholarship, Kenny is currently attending Los Angeles Southwest College and has only six more credits to complete before he plans to transfer to a four-year university to continue his studies in Art. His interest in art began at the age of seventeen, when he realized art was a way he could express himself. Art has impacted his life because it helps through tough times and releases stress. Although he has natural artistic talent, he likes that he can further develop his skills as an artist by taking more formal art courses in college. Kenny plans to eventually further his education by obtaining his MFA, so that he can teach as a professor in community college. He wants to be able to teach the history of art and the power of art. Kenny was the first person in his family to graduate high school and attend community college. He is glad that the Education Is Forever Scholarship Program is helping him make his educational dreams and vision into reality.
Francisco Martines is a 2015 graduate of YouthBuild Charter School of California's Inglewood site at the Youth Justice Coalition. He is currently studying Sociology at Santa Monica College. He hopes to become a probation officer to help youth like himself who were locked up and dealt with substance abuse (he is almost two years sober now). Francisco wants to change the juvenile justice system from the inside out and help youth that are system impacted to attend college, achieve their dreams, and make a difference in their own community. He recognizes that there aren't many Chicanos that want to be a probation officers, and he wants to inspire youth to find their identity and their voice so that they can be someone important. At SMC, Francisco serves as Vice President of the Homeboy & Homegirls Club and also created a substance abuse program there for students. He continues to work with the Youth Justice Coalition and participates in a men's circle group there where he helps other young people. Additionally, he works with Operation Street Kids alongside his mentor Jojo Sanchez. Francisco is also a member of the LA Brown Berets.
Amber Duron is a 2016 graduate of CÁLO YouthBuild (YouthBuild Charter School's Boyle Heights campus.) While at YouthBuild, Amber won the Resilience Award, the Student Mother Award, the Outstanding Attendance Award, and the Little Steve Jobs Award at CODEchella, where she also earned a Certificate of Achievement for 40 hours of web design in HTML, CSS and Java. She also has a fantastic motivator-- her daughter. Amber enrolled at YouthBuild just two weeks after giving birth to her daughter, and it changed her whole perspective on life. Amber is currently attending East Los Angles College, where she is studying Computer Science. After completing her Associate's, she hopes to transfer to the USC Viterbi School for Engineering and continue her studies in Computer Programming/ Computer Science. Amber likes computer programming because it involves dealing with challenging problems. Amber's mother always told her, "If you love your job it's not a job," and that's how Amber feels about programming.
Jennifer Sacayon is a 2016 graduate of YouthBuild Charter School's South LA campus at All People's Community Center. She is currently enrolled at Santa Monica College, where she is studying Chemistry. After she receive's her Associate's, she plans to continue her studies in Chemistry at UCLA or Pepperdine and eventually get her Doctorate. Jennifer credits her love of chemistry to having an amazing chemistry teacher who taught the subject in a way that was easy to understand. After her teacher brought up the fact that chemists got paid well, Jennifer decided to look into the job more and realized it would be perfect since she could make good money and have fun doing it. Jennifer also loves makeup and realized majoring in chemistry could land her a job working for makeup companies where she could formulate new products. Jennifer thanks YouthBuild for helping her overcome her lack of ambition and pushing her to do things out of her comfort-zone. According to Jennifer, "Once I found the confidence I needed, I kept pushing and pushing to better my work as a student. Because I am a strong leader now, I can advocate for myself, which comes in handy in college. With the life skills and traits I received from YouthBuild, failure is just a mindset that I have dropped and replaced with optimism and industriousness."
Aura Xec is a 2015 graduate of YouthBuild Charter School's South LA campus at All People's Community Center. She is currently studying Humanities at Pasadena City College. Her dream is to become a social worker. After she completes her AA, she hopes to transfer to New York University to finish her Bachelor's degree and eventually earn her Masters in Social Work. Helping others has always been a lifetime goal of Aura's. At a very young age her mom taught her that it was better to give than to receive. "There were many careers I could have chosen," Aura says, "but social work has a very special place in my life." Aura would like to give back to children who need help because she had a tough childhood herself. Separated from her parents at the age of 8, Aura and her siblings lived in Guatemala while her parents moved to the U.S. to try to support them. "Growing up I decided that if I were to make it to college, I would want to become someone who helps children. I want to help kids the way someone should have helped my siblings and me. If I want to graduate college, I know I will need so much support because I will be the first person in my family to ever take this path."
Griselda Martinez is a 2016 graduate of LA CAUSA YouthBuild (YouthBuild Charter's East L.A. campus.) She currently attends East Los Angeles College, where she is studying Psychology. The daughter of immigrants, Griselda grew up in a very tough neighborhood in East L.A., where she witnessed on a daily basis kids getting jumped by other kids that were involved with gangs. Weekends were filled with the sounds of gunshots, and Griselda's parents never let her go out and play with friends. Griselda was excited to be the first in her family to graduate from high school and go to college. After she completes her Associate's, Griselda plans to transfer to Cal State LA and major in Criminal Justice. Her goals and aspirations in life are to get a career (not just a job), own her own car, live in a nice home, build a family, and live a good life. "I know that in life the only way you can be successful is through education," Griselda says. "It’s never too late to fix your mistakes and refocus on your education."
2015-16 Education Is Forever Scholars
Candelaria Renteria was born and raised in East LA, CA. She currently attends Los Angeles Trade Tech College and is finishing up her General Ed Classes. She would like to transfer to Cal State Dominguez Hills and major in Public Administration because she likes working with a non-profit organization that helps young people succeed in life. She is inspired by all staff at Compton YouthBuild because they have supported her in any way they could and they motivated her to do better in life. In her free time, she spends the day with her daughter playing games, reading, and coloring books.
Natalie Pinedo was born and raised in the city of East Los Angeles. She recently moved to the city of Paramount about one year and a half ago. She will be attending Cerritos College in the Fall of 2015, and she is interested in studying and majoring in Sociology because her dream job is to work in the Probation Field as a Probation Officer. Her mother inspires her the most because she's a very strong woman who never gives up on what she wants. No matter what it is, her mother will strive for it and continue to work towards it until she has it. That's what motivates Natalie most; her mother shows her that nothing is impossible. In her free time, she helps her mom take care of her little sisters. For fun, she can be found at the movies, at the beach with her family, or just simply spending time with them.
Brian Blandon has lived all his life in Los Angeles, CA. He attends Los Angeles Trade Tech College and is in the welding program. Further on, he would like to become an engineer. The person who inspires him to go further is his mother; she’s taught him to persevere through thick and thin because she raised six kids on her own. In his spare time, he likes to enjoy his days exercising and playing basketball, baseball, or soccer.
Michael Laredo was born and raised just east of LAX airport in Lennox, CA. Currently, he attends El Camino College in Torrance and he is majoring in welding with aspirations of working in the aerospace industry. He has always expressed interest in technical things, such as designing parts, taking measurements, cutting pieces, and working on projects with his hands. Mr. Laredo passes by SpaceX everyday on his bus ride to school which keeps him focused on why he studies. His admiration for space exploration, which is made possible through human invention, is what inspires him to be part of that mission. Michael hopes to one day have his welds on the surface of Mars. When free time is available, Michael enjoys reading random articles on various topics such as nuclear fission and how heat and light is made in our sun as well as watching documentaries and tv shows like Cosmos.
Edgar M. Gonzalez was born in Michoacan, Mexico but migrated to LA as a child seeking a better life. He currently attends Santa Monica City College and hopes to major in Political Science and become a politician. He also hopes to transfer to UCLA soon. He wants to change the world for the better and help the proletariat. He is inspired by socialism and his one-year-old daughter. He is a full time McDonald's employee and organizer with the Fight for $15 LA campaign and SEIU 721. In his free time, he likes to record and produce music or attend political events.
Gloria Carrasco was born in San Fernando,CA and was raised most of her life in Inglewood,CA. She is currently enrolled at El Camino College and is planning to major in Cosmetology as a short-term goal and Fashion Design as a long-term goal. She wants to use these careers to help and impact lives by exposing the true potential behind the beauty of it all. Her inspirations have also come from her teacher Ms.Julia and her advocate Ms.Maria because they have guided her to turn into this strong women she is becoming to help her succed towards her future. In her free time she likes to re/create art, spend quality time with her loved ones and loves to take pictures/videos of her travels!
Sanjay Stoney was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. He will attend El Camino College in the fall of 2015, so that he can study and prepare himself to be a registered nurse. His dream job is to work in a hospital and help patients overcome illness and get them back on their feet. The person who inspires him is his mother because she is always supportive of what he does, and she knows that he always puts one hundred percent in the tasks he needs to accomplish. He also cannot forget his YouthBuild family, which motivates him to become a better person. In his spare time, he read books and hangs out with his friends at the mall or theatre.
Tylor S. Sewell is a current student at Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC). He is from Los Angeles, CA. He is currently studying Real Estate, and his dream job is to become an investor because he is interested in business administration. He is inspired by himself and by his son. His son gives him hope. In his free time, he likes to watch sports, listen to music, and play with his son.