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Posted by on in Academic Advocates

         A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of taking a group of students in the Academic Advocate program to SDSU for their annual SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) conference.  At the conference students rotated to six different workshops where they were able to participate in hands-on projects related to the different fields in engineering. Some of the students’ favorite projects were creating a prosthetic finger out of straws and popsicle sticks and competing against other teams to see how high their water rocket could go. The best part for me as an advocate was seeing my 8th grade students connect engineering to real life jobs. Before this conference my students had heard of engineering, but they did not really understand what a job or major in engineering would mean for their future. I’m happy that my students were able to get this great experience at such a young age so that they have many more years to explore exactly what they want to study in college and beyond.  

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Posted by on in Chula Vista Promise

Over these past few months, I have had the privilege of working with great and fascinating students. I have been grateful to have been given an opportunity to influence and direct today’s youth in a college/career pathway. With that being said, one of the students that I chose to highlight in this short story is an eighth grader that lives in the catchment area.

Currently, this student lives at home with their mother. Although it is just the two of them who live at home, mother and student both demonstrate a strong and compassionate relationship between one another. I have had the opportunity and privilege to be invited into their home, where they have felt comfortable to invite me into. Both were very welcoming to me as well as the Academic Advocate program.   

I chose to highlight this student because right off the bat, this individual has taken the initiative in getting himself equipped with the proper tools to get him started and prepared for a college pathway. When I met the student and mother for our intake session, I recall the mother telling me that the student had asked his mother to enroll him into the program. Although this student knows where he would want to be in life, their struggle comes in not knowing how to get there.

This student has been currently involved at Hilltop Middle School in any form possible. Whether it is by being a member of the Associative Student Body (ASB) or taking a seventh period where he practices an additional foreign language, this student does not skip an opportunity to get involved in school. This individual has made sure to always be on top of his assignments at all times. Furthermore, this student did not struggle with settling in during his transitional stage of sixth grade to seventh. Now, as an eighth grader, he has continued to maintain good grades and is currently performing well in school. 

After working with this student for a few months, I have had the privilege of not only inviting but participating in events with them, such as the District Wide College Fair, held at Castle Park High School (CPHS) and MEChA’s High School Conference that took place at San Diego State University (SDSU), that expose our students to a college going culture. I believe that it is through this exposure that the student will gain that confidence and proper navigation on how to get to college. It is always great to see when parents see their students light up in excitement, especially for education.

Our role as advocates goes far beyond referring families to programs that will tend and assist their needs and mentorship. Our role is to connect bridges and support our families with having their student reach their highest potential goals in this life. I will continue to motivate this student, along with the rest of my cohort, in achieving their goals. Although this student is performing well in school, my promise to him and his mother is to continue his focus and determination in school. I will continue to expose them to potential universities that he will one day apply to.

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Posted by on in Academic Advocates

Hello, my name is David Fares, I am and Academic Advocate at Hilltop Middle School.  I work with some remarkable students.  Regardless of the fact that I am just beginning my work with these students, I am beginning to see the impact that I as an Academic Advocate am having on my students. 

One student in particular stands out in my mind. This student was shy, withdrawn and believed his opinion/input was inconsequential.  He had two F’s, is in Rising Stars (afterschool intervention for students with 2 or more F’s) and did not have any extracurricular interests.

Having worked with my student briefly one-on-one and in Rising Stars, I wanted to find a way to allow the student to feel comfortable expressing himself.  I introduced he and his mother to the ARTS program.  While his mother was excited about the program, he was hesitant and noncommittal.  I made an agreement with him.  He agreed to try the ARTS class after Rising Stars and I agreed to let him out of Rising Stars early on those days. 

After three weeks in the ARTS class, my student began to talk more openly with me. I saw a little more confidence in him and he seemed  moderately more engaged while in Rising Stars. A few weeks later the student began to heed my advice to speak with each of his teachers regarding his grades, missing assignments and how he can improve. The student began to work hard on making up assignments in his math and social science class and immediately saw results. His social science grade improved dramatically, shifting from an F to a C-.

After working hard at the end of last semester, my student appears refreshed and ready for the challenge of a new semester.  While he was not able to repair his grade in math enough to earn a passing grade, he has begun to grow academically and socially.  He has earned his way out of Rising Stars and now possesses the ability to communicate effectively with adults.  He has shown himself that his hard work pays off with a more rewarding report card.  He has discovered a new interest in art through the ARTS program and is eager for ARTS to begin again this semester.  While my student still has much to achieve before he could be considered a student who excels, he has begun to make progress toward a more fulfilling academic and social experience.

David Fares, Academic Advocate

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On 2/08, a group of 14 Castle Park High School students attended the 21st Annual Chicana/Latina High School Conference at San Diego State University. Students were excited to participate in this event in the company their Academic Advocates and many other students from San Diego County.

The day opened with performances ranging from Danza Azteca, Ballet Folklorico en Aztlan, and spoken word poetry by a current SDSU student. This was followed by an inspirational key note speaker, Dr. Irene Lara. Dr. Lara, who is a Castle Park High alumna, shared words of wisdom and discussed her research in healing. CVPromise students were excited to learn that a professor at SDSU is a fellow Trojan and thought her speech was very motivational.

The workshops were highly educational and engaging. They provided students with information about the history of education and our culture, campus resources for first generation college students, body image, inclusion and diversity on campus, among other topics.

Through lunch, students shared what they learned among each other and enjoyed more performances by SDSU student groups.

Advocates assigned CVPromise students to interview one college student. The Trojans enjoyed learning about the college students’ majors, their favorite things about college, and tips to prepare them for college while in high school.

There was a high level of energy throughout the day and all speakers, performances, food, and workshops were amazing! We thank San Diego State University’s Association of Chicana Activists (A.Ch.A.) for working hard to put together a wonderful conference and for inspiring our CVPromise students to pursue a higher education!


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Posted by on in Academic Advocates

This is Rea Concepcion, an Academic Advocate from CV Promise. One of my students at Castle Park High, Alma, has started a Teens for Jeans drive—all donated jeans will go to homeless teens in the community. Initiating this campaign gives Alma the opportunity to win a $4,000 scholarship for college and $5,000 for Castle Park High.


Alma is the first in her family to be accepted into university, and she’ll be majoring in Criminal Justice. Aside from the pride we have in helping her achieve this goal, I’m personally impressed that she has chosen a scholarship that benefits the community and her school. She is highly-motivated, and also understands the importance of giving back.


Please help the homeless teens, the school and Alma, too— donate your jeans!

Look for the donation boxes at Landis and Ken Lee (in the Resource Center/alcove near the break room). The drive will end on Thursday, Feb. 13th. Please read these words from Alma:


I'm Alma Irene Lopez, I'm seventeen years old and a proud college-bound senior at Castle Park High School. I’m starting a jeans drive at my school for the Teens For Jeans scholarship… for my college fund, my school, and most of all for the homeless teens in our community. One of the most common request from homeless teens is a pair of jeans—not any electronics, or any of the new "hip" stuff, just simply a pair of jeans.


To get involved all you have to do is donate your old jeans. They can be any size, style, or color… but please make sure they're still in decent condition.


Donating is a win-win deed: you'll be making a positive difference in an unfortunate teen's life, helping out our beloved school Castle Park High, and also helping a motivated teen's college dreams come true… me! I have been accepted into a four-year-university and will be the first in my family to go to college. Spearheading this campaign gives me the chance to win a $4,000 scholarship, and the high school who collects the most jeans will receive $5,000.


Please spread the word to your friends, family, cousins, uncles and everybody and anybody because it will definitely mean the world to the teens who are in need, my school, and me. It will be deeply appreciated. So please: Collect, Donate, and Give Back!


                Thank you!


            Alma Irene Lopez


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Posted by on in Chula Vista Promise

I just got word that one of my students was accepted into a 4-year university—CSU Dominguez Hills. She stopped by our office this morning  to show us the letter… and I jumped up from my seat and gave her a giant hug. I almost cried.

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Great event tonight! Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez hosted her first annual Holiday Community Celebration in the Castle Park Community.

Castle Park families, along with community, business and civic leaders - including National City Mayor Ron Morrison and Chula Vista Councilmember Pat Aguilar - stopped in for some holiday treats, to meet the Assemblywoman and her staff and to share about their community. The "Guys Group" from Chula Vista High School's Main Attraction entertained with some great holiday tunes. In addition to the holiday celebration,  attendees also donated diapers for families in need. All in all, a wonderful event connecting all aspects of community for a fun celebration.

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