On Monday, April 4, 220 attendees gathered at the Sheraton Fairplex Convention Center in Pomona to honor 15 Bright Prospect alumni who have chosen to establish their career in the medical field.

Guests heard alumni speakers Dr. Julia Hoang, Bright Prospect’s first MD, and Dr. Lorenzo Ramirez, Bright Prospect’s first PhD, speak about how their families came from humble beginnings and how Bright Prospect changed the trajectory of their academic lives and careers.

Julia Hoang talked about how both her parents, a manicurist and construction worker, commuted to work in Las Vegas, and she would only see them when they came home on the weekends. Because of the mentoring provided by Bright Prospect, Julia maintained a 4.3 GPA at Pomona High. She later attended UC Irvine and graduated from Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica in 2013. She was also able to secure 1 out of 4 psychiatric residency spots at UC Riverside’s School of Medicine (out of 600 applicants!) because of Bright Prospect’s outstanding recommendation letter. Julia is now in her second year of her psychiatry residency.

Lorenzo Ramirez shared that his father was a dairy farmer and his mother was a homemaker. While Lorenzo was in high school his father became unable to work due to an injury, and his family struggled to make ends meet. One of his teachers at Ontario High School introduced him to Bright Prospect, which put him on path to ultimately obtain a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania. Lorenzo now trains dogs to detect signature scents of diseases such as ovarian cancer. He credits his love for animals to growing up on a farm in Ontario.

The keynote speaker of the evening, Richard Yochum, president and CEO of Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, applauded those who choose to work in the medical field because of a passion to make a difference in people’s lives. Bright Prospect’s founder and president Eric Garen affirmed that Bright Prospect uplifts not just individuals served by the program, but entire communities, as about half of Bright Prospect graduates return to the communities they grew up in to pay it forward.

Bright Prospect alumna Charlie Quezada has been selected as one of only nine students in the nation  to receive52753_charlie_quezada the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color. After graduating from Lewis & Clark University in December with a double major in sociology/anthropology and Hispanic studies, Charlie now plans on using The Wilson Fellowship, which provides $30,000 toward completing a master’s degree in education, to provide her with support and coaching as she begins her journey toward teaching at a high-need public school.

Like many Bright Prospect students, Charlie had once thought that college was just a dream, but with the help and support of Bright Prospect and others, she is now living her dream of becoming a public school teacher. To read more about the fellowship announcement and Charlie’s outstanding accomplishments click here.

Congratulations Charlie Quezada!

Bright Prospect’s accomplishments were recently featured in an academic paper exploring how Bright Prospect reaches its goals of empowering low-income students and achieving college success. A group of researches from the Claremont Evaluation Center at Claremont Graduate University released an ethnographic report on Bright Prospect entitled “Effective Principles of Practice for College Access and Persistence.” The report, which is available on our website here, explores many facets of Bright Prospect’s successful model, including education, goal-setting, and support for our students.

The report is a great read for anyone interested in the details of our model, and we’re very excited to see continued success for our students as we support them to and through college!

Greg Bradbard, CEO of the Inland Empire United Way, writes a monthly column in the Foothills Reader supplement to the L.A. Times.  Last month his article focused on Bright Prospect alumna Kaylee Juarez as an example of the success brought about by the IEUW’s support of its grantees in the region.  Bright Prospect is honored to be one of the IEUW’s partners.  Here is the article Greg wrote:

Foothills Reader Submission for March 29, 2015

Making Dreams Come True By Gregory Bradbard, President & CEO, Inland Empire United Way

“When I was a child, I remember being homeless for about 5 months. With my mom, dad, and siblings, we lived in a van. KayleeWhen we finally got an apartment, we had no money for furniture. So we made a dinner table out of a box. We would sit on the floor, and would sleep on the floor.”

Kaylee, the young woman who recently shared her story with me, grew up in Pomona and was a participant in the Bright Prospect program. Bright Prospect is one of the many outstanding local organizations funded by United Way that is working to build brighter futures for local kids.

Kaylee continued to share how her mother worked two jobs and had to leave her children at home alone. With little to eat, they often ate just bread and coffee. She recounted looking forward to going to school, simply to get a full meal.

It was in third grade, after being teased by other kids for having holes in her clothes, that she realized she was living in poverty.

But Kaylee is an incredible example of resilience. With the guidance and inspiration of Bright Prospect, she graduated from high school and set her sights high. Kaylee is now a graduate of UC Berkeley, is the first in her family with a college degree, and she is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Social Work at USC.

“It just takes one person. I want to be a guide to young people, like me, who are struggling. I want to be able to come back and give to my community,” said Kaylee.

Kaylee teachingIt is my honor to work with exemplary organizations like Bright Prospect. We know that there are literally thousands of children in our backyard who are facing challenges like those faced by Kaylee and her family.

Fortunately, stories like this remind me that we truly can make dreams come true. As Kaylee shared, “If not for your help, I believe that I wouldn’t be where I am now and able to follow my dreams.” To see Kaylee’s video interview or learn more, visit http://www.IEUW.org.

Photo Caption: Former homeless Pomona student, Kaylee, now a UC Berkeley graduate.

Good news is here! Our Bright Prospect students are in the midst of college decision season, and the plethora of their acceptances is not making college decisions any easier.

High school seniors like Emily Govea, who has been accepted to Scripps College, IMG_0576Lewis & Clark, Wellesley and more, have been working their hardest since their freshman year of high school just so that they could reach this moment—to finally be able say they made it.

Bright Prospect has been essential to the successes of students like Emily and her fellow seniors. With the constant mentoring, guidance, and advising offered by Bright Prospect, not only are these students being accepted into various colleges and universities, but many are also going to be attending some of the most elite educational institutions in the nation.

Thanks to your support, these students will be reaching their college dreams. For many of them it will even be their first time living outside of California. All of the students will have to make their choice by the May 1 college deadline and it will for sure be a very emotional and joyous day.

With your help, everything that these students thought was impossible became possible through years of encouragement and support. We invite you to attend College Decision Day, where you will hear the Bright Prospect graduates express what going to college will mean to them, on any of these dates at the high schools listed:

April 24 at 2:30 p.m.         Montclair HS
April 27 at 12:00 p.m.       Pomona HS
April 28 at 11:30 a.m.       Ontario HS
May 1 at 9:30 a.m.            Ganesha HS
May 1 at 1:00 p.m.            Garey HS

Please let us know if you plan on attending so we can reserve a seat for you.  Kindly RSVP to development@brightprospect.org. We hope you’ll join us!

Thank you again for your support. You have made so many students’ college dreams a reality.

Sisters Itzel and Bertha Romero have both found success through Bright Prospect thanks to your support.We love it when younger siblings within the same family follow older siblings’ example, going to and through college with the guidance of Bright Prospect and your support. Here is an example: Itzel and Bertha – the Romero sisters.

Intelligent, determined, and dedicated are just a few words that describe both Itzel Romero, freshman and neuroscience major at UCLA, and younger sister Bertha, who is about to graduate near the top of her class from Pomona High School.

The sisters were raised by their single mom, who moved her family from Mexico to Pomona, California. The transition was difficult. But their mom instilled in her daughters, from a very young age, the value of an education. Both sisters always knew they wanted to go to college—but didn’t know how to achieve this dream.

Then a family member shared with them how Bright Prospect was helping her go to college, and Itzel and Bertha decided to switch to Pomona High School so they could become part of the Bright Prospect program. Their mother fully supported this further step for her daughters’ advancement toward a better future. Itzel reported: “My mom loves Bright Prospect and she is always telling people about the program. When I tell her I am at the Bright Prospect office she knows I am safe.”

From drafts to final submissions, thanks to you Bright Prospect guided Itzel through the lengthy college application process, and she was accepted to the school of her dreams—UCLA. But Bright Prospect support didn’t end there. At UCLA she is an active member of a Bright Prospect college crew. “We do homework and study together which helps all of us to put in the work we need to succeed.” Itzel participates in several campus clubs and activities that enrich the college experience, including an academic and counseling support program for minorities and low income students.

Because of your support, younger sister Bertha is now going through the same college application process and has applied to eleven private liberal arts colleges. She says that she probably would not have thought that going to a four-year college or university would be possible if it were not for the guidance from Bright Prospect. “There is this security about being part of Bright Prospect. Even if you don’t know what college you are going to, you know you are going somewhere.”

Today, Bertha can’t wait to hear from all of the colleges she has applied to.

Learn where Bertha and her classmates will be going to college at Pomona High School’s College Decision Day on April 27 at noon. We invite you to attend College Decision Day, where you will hear the graduates express what going to college will mean to them, on any of these dates at the high school listed:

April 24 at 2:30 p.m.         Montclair HS
April 27 at 12:00 p.m.       Pomona HS
April 28 at 11:30 a.m.       Ontario HS
May 1 at 9:30 a.m.            Ganesha HS
May 1 at 1:00 p.m.            Garey HS

Please let us know if you plan on attending so we can reserve a seat for you.  Kindly RSVP to development@brightprospect.org. We hope you’ll join us!

Thank you again for your support. You have made so many students’ college dreams a reality.

bright_prospect-75Over 100 people attended Bright Prospect’s ribbon cutting ceremony last Friday, March 6th, celeb  rating the move to our new office space, located at 1460 E Holt Avenue, Suite 74, recently provided by the Pomona Unified School District and thanks to a grant by the Ludwick Family Foundation.

The space was packed with community members and dignitaries, including Congresswoman  Norma Torres, Cal Poly Pomona President Dr. Soraya Cooley, representatives from Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis – Rachel Barbosa, State Senator Connie Leyva – Benny Ayala, Pomona School Superintendent Richard Martinez, President of Chaffey College – Dr. Henry Shannon, Pomona Mayor Elliott Rothman, Pomona City Council members – Paula Lantz and Debra Martin,  The ceremonial ribbon was cut by high school senior Emily Govea after Eric Garen, the founder and president of Bright Prospect, gave a touching and teary-eyed speech.

All attendees came together to celebrate Bright Prospect’s success and later enjoyed a delicious lunch sponsored by Cardenas Markets.