Rising scholar works for better future

By Juan Calvillo

Ethan Marquez, 19, is an affable young man who, despite getting in trouble in high school, is now succeeding in East Los Angeles College’s Education Justice Rising Scholars program. 

He is currently in his first year at ELAC and said the program and center have given him a home to come to and a safe place to be himself. 

The Rising Scholars program is focused on helping students that were formerly incarcerated.

Marquez said his main motivation comes from being a part of a program he is able to connect with, and a part of a group of students who understand him. 

He said it’s been challenging to fit in with other students at ELAC.

 The program gives students the opportunity to really learn how to communicate with each other, and Marquez said the group of students are like a family on campus.

He said when he thinks of the program he thinks of its coordinator Elizandro Umana.

 Marquez said Umana’s friendly demeanor leaves a lasting impression. He said the connection with someone like Umana is helpful.

 It allows him to express himself and get things off his chest when it comes to rough days.

“Being able to have somebody who works here that doesn’t feel like they are just here to get paid or something. He’s here to help us. He’s here to make sure, asking us if we are good in classes,” Marquez said.

He said the program really helps with all the details of college life. He said the program has helped him by advocating for him in departments and programs. He has also been helped with financial aid.

Marquez said he ran into some trouble in high school and was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to graduate and move on to college.

 He went into a continuation school, but his progress was slow due to the challenges of COVID-19.

 He graduated in June from Homeboy Industries Learning Works and was pushed to enter college.

 He was introduced to Umana, who then helped Marquez begin his college education.

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