Category: Mentee Spotlight: Santa Ana
Alyssa Spikes is a senior at Community Learning Center Tech and is being mentored by Joshua Cooper. She has made tremendous progress academically and is in the top 3 percentile of students at her school, despite being the mother of a two year old daughter and working at Party City. Says Alyssa, “I want to graduate, go to college, and be an example to my daughter.”
“[Alyssa] is the sweetest, most well-respected girl that I have mentored personally,” writes Joshua, “She is by far one of the most driven, mature, loving, sweet, competitive, easy-going, generous, thankful, understanding, leader-quality youths that I have ever met. She is destined to have great success because the mindset she has at 17 years old has gotten her off to a great start.” Alyssa is on track to graduate this school year. Another big plus, according to Joshua, “She also loves basketball . . . and the LAKERS!”
Gloria is a junior at Tierra Del Sol Continuation High School. While faced with issues at home as a caregiver, Gloria has continued to make an effort to make it to school prepared and ready to work. At TDS, she is mentored by Teresa Nieto. “Gloria does not let her roadblocks stop her from reaching her end goal,” relates Teresa, “She is quick to jump in and help when she can and is working hard to catch up on credits.” Gloria aspires to be a veterinarian and has taken it upon herself to seek out volunteer opportunities with an animal shelter that will help get her experience for her future and other general work experience. “Life might have its challenges for her,” says Teresa, “But Gloria has the good sense and perseverance to rise above them to a greater future.”
Bryce Gagliardi is an 8th grade student at Sillect Community School and is a mentee of Brittney Watkins. During the month of October, Bryce became an exceptional student. “Not only is he getting his work done in class, but he still finds time to be extremely helpful,” says Brittney, “Bryce is a kind-hearted and respectful young man. He is always putting others first and continues to be a helping hand to his friends and staff.” It was for these reasons along with his attendance and positive behavior that he was selected to go on a field trip to Banducci Family Pumpkin Patch in October.
Brittney adds, “I am so proud of Bryce. He always has a smile on his face that is genuinely contagious. He is constantly looking out for others and making better choices in his life. He is becoming a leader possessing those distinct qualities that make him stand out from the crowd. Keep up the good work Bryce, and more rewards will come your way.”
In his spare time, Bryce loves to listen to music and is a good role model to his younger siblings. He likes to skateboard and play basketball. He has been told that he would make an excellent football player in high school.
Antonia Marcial was a freshman at Valley High School this year. Antonia’s biggest inspiration is her mother. She saw how her mother was affected by her performance at school so this year she decided to do better. With her mentor, Kristine Capulong, she set goals for herself to improve her attendance and grades and focus on going to college. “Being in the mentoring program helped her because she needed someone who will listen to her and understand what she is going through,” said Kristine, “Having someone believe in her and give her support encouraged her to stay on the right track.” This student was absent often last year and managed to turn things around this year. She strives to do better in school and is motivated to go to college.
Tomas Villanueva, an 8th grader at Spurgeon Intermediate School, has improved his behavior, attitude, and academics after a few months of mentoring. Although he got off to a rough start in the beginning of the year, he now comes to school every day and has a positive outlook on life.
He has had to overcome barriers daily, given that he lives in a gang-infested neighborhood, and is currently working with his mentor Cristina Simut to improve his grades. “Tomas is not afraid to ask for help and visits often throughout the day,” she says, “Even coming before and after school or during lunch.” With his hard work and dedication, Tomas has raised his grades in Science and Language Arts and has earned 15 Accelerated Reading Points since beginning the program.
Most important, he is starting to gain confidence in himself. Cristina writes, “I am really proud to have met Tommy and be able to call him my mentee. I know if he puts his mind to it, he will become something amazing when he grows up.”
Alejandra went through a transformation during her junior year at Community Day School during which she realized that she really wanted to get her high school diploma. She was not content on receiving a GED but was determined to finish high school with a diploma. Through mentoring, she and her mentor, Angelica Gomez, created a pathway map by working with staff at Independent Studies and Valley High School. This map gives Ms. De La Riva a visual representation that motivates her to work towards her goal.
“Alejandra has overcome many obstacles,” says Angelica, “Including the death of her father at a young age.” With the strength that she built in overcoming this tragic experience, Alejandra has become a caregiver to her younger nieces and nephews. She is determined to go to vocational school and continue a career in mathematics in the health care field. She feels that being in a small school setting has given her a chance to reflect and not get easily distracted by other students. Her attendance is a reflection of her commitment to school. Although she still has to assist her family, she manages to communicate with staff and make up any missing assignments. “She is learning to balance family life responsibilities with career and educational responsibilities at the right age,” adds Angelica, “She is mature and understanding.”
Jose Mata transferred to Chavez High School from Valley High with only 75 credits due to low grades and poor attendance. Upon arriving at Chavez, where he was mentored by Anavil Dimas, Jose improved his attendance dramatically. He finished his first quarter with grades C or better. When Jose received notice that he qualified to return to his home school, he worked extra hard to improve his grades. His hard work paid off. He finished the second quarter with 4 A’s and 1 B! “His teachers had great things to say about him in regards to this,” says Anavil. Jose returned to Valley High to start the second semester of his junior year. “He deserves this recognition because he is a great example that if you work hard,” adds Anavil, “You will succeed if you persevere.”
In addition to attending school, Jose works part-time at a recycling center. He also plays soccer with his community team. His parents are his inspiration. He is determined to do well at Valley and graduate on time. Jose aspires to be a Probation Officer.
Marco has been a student at Chavez High School, a continuation school, since the spring of 2014, and is currently being mentored by Jonathan De Santiago. This year, he has improved his grades and attendance. He stays after school to get extra help from Jonathan in math and English; they even work out in the weight room together. At Chavez, he has caught up on all his credits and is one of five students at the school who will be taking the SATs in January and is planning on applying to several universities to pursue a degree in the business field. Marco has grown tremendously both academically and personally. On top of working at his father’s tire shop, Marco has continued to excel in all of his classes and has only missed one school day this whole year due to an illness. He is on schedule to graduate in June. “I believe Marco deserves this recognition because he has improved so much since being transferred to Chavez aside from helping his family financially and serving in his community,” writes Jonathan, “Mentoring works!!!”
On October 25, the South Kern Team of the Building Healthy Communities AmeriCorps Program served on Make Difference Day by promoting ways for households to prepare for natural disasters at a Fall Festival in the Greenfield community. The event was held at McKee Middle School and included engaging activities to encourage families to plan for unexpected emergencies. The AmeriCorps team partnered with the South Kern Building Healthy Communities Initiative, McKee Middle School, McKee Club Live, Greenfield Family Resource Center, Bakersfield Police Department’s Life Interrupted, the American Red Cross, and Champions for Change, and over 70 volunteers to stage the festival.
Photo Caption: AmeriCorps Members Mia Sandoval and Izebel Ramirez work with a family to plan an escape route from a home.
Sunset Middle School
Becky was invited to CYAN Youth Quest in Sacramento where she and 6 other students from Sunset spoke to a representative at the capitol about the issue of e-cigarettes. She even volunteered to give the representative materials to read about the issue. She was also a participant in a math competition where she represented her school and was awarded a special plaque during her graduation ceremony. Becky has been involved in her school’s band and flag team. She chose to attend summer school to get ahead and practice on the flag team at Arvin High. During school breaks, she would volunteer at the local food bank and even convinced her brother to attend.