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R2L returns to the Central Valley!

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Over 200 enthusiastic high school students joined us at the third Ready to Lead (R2L) event at the University of California, Merced on Saturday, October 12. Participants hailed from 16 area high schools across the Central Valley, traveling as far as 70 miles away from home to learn about the college process, engage with mentors, and receive encouragement to successfully graduate from high school and obtain a postsecondary education.  

Dr. Tom Petersen, provost and executive vice chancellor at UC Merced, started the day by encouraging students and welcoming them to campus. Participants also heard from CHCI Board Member Silvia Aldana from Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E). A Central Valley native and supporter of the R2L program, she shared her interest in continuing to support programs like R2L and encouraged students to make the most of their experience.  

Students received in-depth training in three key areas necessary for college preparation: College Planning, Financial Literacy, and Leadership Development. Presenters Alejandro Delgadillo, Associate Director of Admissions, and Encarnacion (Chon) Ruiz, Director of Admissions and Outreach of the University of California, Merced, clarified the college preparation process for students and answered their questions about entrance requirements for the University of California. Andres Quintero, CHCI alumnus and Vice President of the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District in San Jose, shared his own experience as a leader in his community and encouraged participants to get more involved during the Leadership Development workshop.  The Financial Literacy sessions were presented by Amy Ferraz of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, who provided students important information about developing a budget and planning for the future.

The highlight of the day for many participants was the Mentoring Power. Students heard from college students and professionals from the across the Central Valley, representing diverse fields and organizations including: Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Wells Fargo, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Central Valley Opportunity Center, Encourage Tomorrow, and UC Merced students and staff.  During this activity, mentors shared their personal success stories and insights about their path to college and career success. Said one student, “Meeting the professionals today motivated me to do better in school and find other adults who care about my success just like CHCI’s mentors.”

Vice President and Equal Employment Officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Beverley Hawkins shared her experience with mentorship and the importance of dreaming big. The day ended on a powerful keynote address from Jose Hernandez, former NASA astronaut, engineer, and founder of Reaching for the Stars Foundation,. He shared his personal story of resiliency and hard work, which led him to accomplish his childhood dream of becoming a NASA astronaut.

CHCI is proud to have offered yet another successful R2L event at the University of California, Merced and hopes to continue to educate, motivate, and empower Latino youth in the area.

This year’s Ready to Lead Merced event was made possible thanks to the generous support of State Farm, AT&T, and Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

To support CHCI’s Ready to Lead events, visit: https://www.chci.org/donate/donate.asp