New partnership reveals opportunity for free college

By Kevin Camargo

East Los Angeles College partnered with the Los Angeles Unified School District- Local District East, LAUSD Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez and California State University, Los Angeles to launch the GO Southeast program at Bell High School last Wednesday.

“We’re having this partnership to ensure that our students have an opportunity to go through the K through 12 pipeline and continue,” ELAC Student Services Associate Dean, Miguel Dueñas said.

“My goal is that they have an understanding that college is for them (and) accessible for them. We are here to support them and see them through this pathway,” Duenas said.

GO Southeast is related to the LA College Promise Program to provide students their first year of college free.

It allows participating high school students to take college classes offered at their respective school.

“I want to be able to save them time, because we know that the less time they spend at East LA College, the higher the probability that they will graduate and transfer,” ELAC President Marvin Martinez said.

“The more time they spend at East LA College, the higher the probability they may not make it. We want to be able to reduce that time.”

GO Southeast is also an expansion of the GO East LA program that has been active for the past five years. ELAC now has a service in the southeast area as well, not just in East LA.

Sixteen schools in the southeast area of Los Angeles are participating in this program.

Schools vary from Legacy, South Gate and South East, to Odyssey, Maywood Academy and Huntington Park high schools, and among others.

“The other purpose of the program is to create a college-going culture in these communities. These communities don’t really have that culture, so as a result, going to college is not a top priority,” Martinez said.

“That’s why this program is important. It gives them a chance; it gives them an opportunity. They can take advantage now, why wait?” Martinez said.

The launch of GO Southeast was held at Bell High School, as LAUSD bussed the other participating school students to the high school.

Throughout the event, student leaders from selected schools gave a one-minute speech to why they want to go to college.

“It was very well-organized; students were very excited; the students were very motivated; they did great videos about their schools and who they are,” Cal State LA representative and GO East LA Director Bianca Guzmán said.

The GO Southeast event included a pledge from all organizations of the program to all the participating schools to offer this program.

“Our partnership, as part of Cal State LA, we promise students a seat if they meet the minimum requirements of Cal State LA,” Guzmán said.

“What’s important about that, is that students are guaranteed (a spot) as long as they do the work they need to do because more students apply to Cal State LA and less are able to get in.”

Guzmán believes students need to start noticing themselves as intelligent and global scholars.

“It’s very important that students begin to hear those words and begin to believe and begin to see a picture of themselves as global leaders.”

The event ended with performances from the South East High School Mariachi Band and the Maywood Academy Jazz Band.

“We want to make it festive and exciting to go college; it shouldn’t be boring. It should be something where now they’re turning a new chapter in their lives where they can achieve their dreams, and that should be exciting for them,”  Martinez said.

This program’s aim is to make the process from elementary school to college much easier and more cyclical as more students start to attend college.

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