By Lillian BOODAGHIANS
The I Have a Dream Foundation, Los Angeles, held its annual “Summer College Boot Camp” for its students at Glendale Community College in mid-July. The foundation provides long term, comprehensive support and programming for at risk youth, sponsoring classes from early grade school years through high school graduation.
“We provide not just academic support but also after school programs and long term, constant adult role model relationships via mentors, staff and volunteers,” said Katy Garretson, executive director of the foundation.
The sponsored students, known as Dreamers, involved in this year’s boot camp were from the Boyle Heights area entering their senior year of high school.
Students were enrolled in the Student Development/College Orientation and Success course taught by GCC academic advisor Yeranui Barsegyan, a workshop-style course tailored for the Dreamers focusing on career planning, completing the FAFSA and writing a personal statement.
“We usually teach this class to students at GCC so I had to tweak the class a little because these students were in high school,” said Barsegyan. “However, the core of the course, teaching students how to be successful in college, was the same.”
Kristen Skjonsby, Development manager for the foundation, said that the students particularly enjoyed the “Mock Day in College,” which allowed the Dreamers to shadow college students and attend college classes.
Though the Summer College Boot Camp is a yearly event, this was the first year the program was held at a college. Jeanette Stirdivant, Student Services Division chair at GCC, was struck by the idea when she teamed up with I Have a Dream in April to host a college discussion panel for the Dreamers.
The summer program was designed to be comprehensive and individualized, allowing students to talk about exactly what they wanted in terms of their careers.
Skjonsby said that one particular student, whom she regards as a Dreamers success story, was struggling academically and was at risk for being in a gang.
“She recently decided to turn things around and through this GCC program found that [GCC] offers a drug and alcohol counseling major, something she now wants to pursue,” Skjonsby said.
Garretson also feels the event was a success.
“I think so many kids can be turned off by college because they don’t understand the process,” said Garretson. “GCC put on a program that really clarified and made college accessible.”