Local college prep program helps students discover their dreams


JOSE CARDENAS: COMING UP NEXT WE WILL HEAR ABOUT A NATIONAL RECOGNIZED COLLEGE ACCESS PROGRAM THAT HELPS YOUNG PEOPLE HERE IN THE VALLEY.

“HERE ON HORIZONTE, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. IF YOU HAVE COMMENTS, STORY IDEAS OR QUESTIONS E-MAIL US AT [email protected]

JOSE CARDENAS: AGUILA YOUTH LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE PREPARES STUDENTS INTERESTED IN ATTENDING COLLEGE BY HELPING PARENTS AND STUDENTS WITH THE INFORMATION AND SKILLS THEY NEED TO SUCCEED IN HIGHER EDUCATION. JOINING ME IS ROSEMARY YBARRA HERNANDEZ, CEO AND FOUNDER OF AGUILA YOUTH LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE. ROSEMARY, IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME.

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME.

JOSE CARDENAS: A LOT OF THINGS HAVE HAPPENED WITH AGUILA. ITS GROWN, ITS DEVLOPED. GIVE US KIND OF A THUMBNAIL SKETCH OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED.

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: WOW WELL, UM INTERESTING-

JOSE CARDENAS: IT’S BIGGER NOW.

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: WE ARE BIGGER NOW. WE SERVE MANY MORE STUDENTS. IN FACT, OUR STUDENTS COM BACK NOW HAVING GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE. ONE STUDENT IN PARTICULAR CAME BACK AND SAID WE CANNOT TALK TO THESE STUDENTS ABOUT COLLEGE IF THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO GET THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL. SO, WE DEVELOPED AN 8TH GRADE PROGRAM THAT WE CALL THE ACADEMY.

JOSE CARDENAS: WHEN DID YOU DO THAT?

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: WE DID THAT A FEW YEARS BACK, ABOUT THREE YEARS AGO. WE ARE AT CART RIGHTS SCHOOL DISTRICT AND PENDER GAS SCHOOL DISTRCIT NOW, AND WE’RE LOOKING TO GO INTO ALHAMBRA AND GLENDALE.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND WHAT IS IT YOU DO WITH THE STUDENTS IN THESE SCHOOL DISTRICTS?

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: WITH THE EIGHTH GRADERS WE ACTUALLY HELP THEM TO DREAM, TO CONNECT THE DOTS. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT- A LOT OF PEOPLE TALK ABOUT HAVING STUDENTS BECOME PREPARED. COLLEGE AND CAREER READY IS WHAT THE STATE IS MANDATED- THAT THESE STUDENTS BE COLLEGE AND CAREER READY. WE GO INTO THE CLASSROOM AND THESE STUDENTS DON'T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A JOB AND CAREER. WE HELP THEM TO UNDERSTAND THAT. WE PROVIDE THEM WITH GUIDANCE IN TERMS OF WHAT THEY NEED IN HIGH SCHOOL IN ORDER TO GET ON TO A GOOD COLLEGE TRACK.

JOSE CARDENAS: YOU MENTIONED DREAMS AND HELPING THE DREAMS COME TO FRUITION. DO YOU HAVE VERY MANY DREAMERS IN THE PROGRAM? STUDENTS WHO ARE HERE WITHOUT DOCUMENTATION?

JOSE CARDENAS: YES, WE DO. AND IN FACT, I AM SO PROUD OF ONE OF MY STUDENTS WHO GRADUATED FROM ASU'S LAW SCHOOL A YEAR AGO LAST MAY IS SALVALO MALCIAS I HAD HIM IN HIGH SCHOOL. I HAD HIM WHILE HE WAS DOING HIS UNDERGRAD AT ASU AND FINISHED ASU'S LAW SCHOOL AND HE JUST PASSED THE BAR.

JOSE CARDENAS: WHEN HE GRADUATED THOUGH THINGS SEEMED TO BE MORE PROMISING. WE HAD DACA AND THE HOPES WE WOULD SOON HAVE A DREAM ACT. THINGS LOOK A LITTLE BLEAKER NOW. WHAT DO YOU TELL THE KIDS AND HOW DO YOU GET THEM MOTIVATED?

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: YOU KNOW, ACTUALLY SAL COMES BACK AND TELLS THEM HE WAS GOING TO SCHOOL WHEN THERE WAS NO DACA , TO NOT TO GIVE UP HOPE. HE IS THE STRONGEST MESSENGER FOR KEEPING THE LIGHT ON, TO KEEPING THE FAITH AND THE HOPE THAT PEOPLE WILL RECOGNIZE BEYOND THE FINANCIAL, STIMULATING THE ECONOMY, BUT THE HUMANITY OF HOW THIS IMPACTS OUR FAMILIES. WE WORK WITH OUR STUDENTS AND TELL THEM WE ARE GOING TO KEEP GOING. WE ARE GOING TO KEEP GOING.



JOSE CARDENAS: AND YOU WORK NOT ONLY WITH THE STUDENTS BUT YOU NOW HAVE A PARENT'S COMPONENT.

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: WE HAVE A PARENT UNIVERSITY AND OUR PARENTS ARE PROVIDED WITH INFORMATION ABOUT FASFA, ABOUT COLLEGE PROCESS-

JOSE CARDENAS: FINANCIAL AID-

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: AND THE FINANCIAL AID APPLICATION AND WE ARE RECOGNIZED BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AS A PROMISING PRACTICE FOR OUR FAFSA INFORMATION AND THE DIFFERENT PROGRAMS WE GIVE TO OUR PARENTS. BUT WE PROVIDE EVERYTHING IN BOTH ENGLISH AND SPANISH AND WE GIVE OUR PARENTS HOPE AS WELL.

JOSE CARDENAS: HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU SERVE?

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: OH, GOSH. WE SERVE -- WE SERVE IN OUR HIGH SCHOOL COMPONENT CALLED TH INSTITUTE YOU CAN IMAGINE 400 HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND THEIR PARENTS. IN THE HIGH SCHOOLS WE ARE SERVING 2,000 EIGHTH GRADERS AND THEIR PARENTS. WE ALSO CONTINUE TO SERVE OUR STUDENTS WHO ARE IN COLLEGE. I JUST GOT OFF THE PHONE THIS MORNING WITH A STUDENT WHO IS DOING HIS MASTERS AT COLUMBUIA IN SOCIOLOGY AND URBAN SCHOOLS. WE HAVE STUDENTS ACROSS THE WORLD WHO ARED PREPARING FOR THEIR MASTERS, PHD PROGRAMS, MEDICAL, LAW SCHOOL. SO, WE CONTINUE TO SERVE THEM AS WELL.

JOSE CARDENAS: SO YOU CONTINUE TO GROW. WHAT IS COMING UP NEXT? ARE THERE ANY BIG PLANS TO EXPAND THE PROGRAM?

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: YES, IN FACT WE MOVED TO A LITTLE HOUSE. WE HAVE AN OPEN HOUSE SOON. BUT WE ALSO HAVE -- WE ARE VERY EXCITED AND WE THINK IT IS A VERY TIMELY FOR OUR LUNCHEON. WE HAVE A KEYNOTE SPEAKER. HE IS COMING TO US. HIS NAME IS DR. ALFREDO QUINONES-HINJOSA, DR. Q. IS A NEURO SURGEON, WORLD RENOWNED NEURO SURGEON AND NEURO SCIENTIST WHO CAME FROM MEXICO, WORKED THE FIELDS, WENT TO SCHOOL AT COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN CALIFORNIA AND FOUND HIMSELF AT BERKELEY AND WENT ON TO HARVARD MED SCHOOL. HE WAS TED KENNEDY'S NEUROSURGEON. HE CONDUCTS 250 BRAIN SURGERIES A YEAR. HE IS COMING TO THE VALLEY APRIL OF NEXT YEAR-

JOSE CARDENAS: DO YOU HAVE A DATE?

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: APRIL THE 13TH.

JOSE CARDENAS: WELL, GOOD LUCK ON THAT.

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: SAVE THE DATE!

JOSE CARDENAS: AND ON THAT NOTE, WE HAVE TO SAY GOOD-BYE. BUT THANK YOU AND GOOD LUCK ON THE LUNCHEON.

ROSEMARY HERNANDEZ: THANK YOU.

A local college access program for young people has received national recognition for its success.

Rosemary Ybarra-Hernandez, founder of AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute, says the program begins by teaching students how to dream. “We go into the classroom, and these students don’t know the difference between a job and a career,” says Ybarra-Hernandez. “We help them understand that [difference].”

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In this segment:

Rosemary Ybarra-Hernandez: Founder, AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute

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