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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!

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.

Lorenzo while defending his thesis in Cellular and Molecular Biology at University of Pennsylvania.

Lorenzo while defending his thesis in Cellular and Molecular Biology at University of Pennsylvania.

Lorenzo Ramirez, the son of immigrants from Jalisco, Mexico, has just earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in Cellular and Molecular Biology with a focus on gene therapy and vaccines. Thanks to you, Lorenzo was able to pursue and achieve his dream of a college and post-graduate education.

Lorenzo grew up in the city of Ontario and had considered going to college, but it wasn’t until Bright Prospect interviewed him and he became a part of the program that he realized what he wanted to do. Lorenzo attended Swarthmore on a full scholarship and got his Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Art History. Lorenzo says that executive director Stephanie Campbell edited his essays when he was applying for the Mellon Mays fellowship, which he was ultimately awarded.

“When it came time to apply to grad school, Stephanie was there not only to help with the application, but also by giving me emotional support,” Lorenzo says. “My parents did not

understand why I had to continue studying and go to grad school. Stephanie and Savoeun helped me with that and any issue I had. When I had no one else to talk to, I knew I could turn to them and they would understand and support me.”

Your support provided Lorenzo with incredible opportunities. He received an offer, which he accepted, to undertake a post-doctoral fellowship focused on helping college students in the STEM field at minority institutions, like Rutgers University, through the STEM Diversity Institute at the University of Massachusetts. An animal lover, Lorenzo is thrilled to also be working on a research project at of UPenn’s Veterinary School Working Dog Center. Lorenzo is one of the immunologists who will investigate why the working/trained dogs’ immune systems seem to work better than other dogs’. He will learn about dog training techniques and also act as the dogs’ immunologist.

 

 

College Admission

Congratulations to our amazing BP students who’ve just gotten accepted into their dream schools which include Harvey Mudd, UC San Diego, and Bowdoin College! We can’t wait to add more admissions letters on our wall!

Meet New Bright Prospect Board Member Kyle Webb

Bright Prospect welcomes our new board member Kyle Webb!

Kyle Webb is the CFO for Webb Family Enterprises, which operates McDonald’s franchises and Webb Family Investments. Webb’s family operates McDonald’s franchises in sixteen communities and their mission is that each community benefits from their operation, as they benefit from their customer’s patronage. The Claremont resident is the youngest of Reggie and René Webb’s three children. He graduated from Morehouse College, with a degree in Business Administration and Finance then worked for the Disney-ABC TV Group in finance. He serves on the University of La Verne College of Business and Public Management Advisory Board, the Loma Linda Ronald McDonald House Advisory Council, the McDonald’s of Southern California People Team and Health Care Reform Task Force, and is a member of the National Black McDonald’s Owner Association. In association to his CFO responsibilities, Webb is also responsible for people development and training including teaching management classes and overseeing training ­­­plans and progress for developing managers. Webb sees the possibility of radical expression of communities through service, which leads him to spend much of his time training and motivating employees, and engaging children such that they may be able to fulfill their wildest dreams. Webb enjoys spending time with his family and friends, and watching and participating in sports. We are so happy to have Webb join the Bright Prospect board and know that he will make a valuable and inspirational addition to the team!

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On December 30, 500 Bright Prospect students got together – the program’s largest assembly ever – for the annual “Old-New Reunion”, where college students home for winter break meet with high school seniors who have just completed the college application process.  This year high school juniors were included in the event as well, to have the opportunity to hear about college life from the college students a year earlier. 

 

The college students, who are excited to see old friends and to “give back” to younger students, share with the high school students what it has been like to transition to their college environment, the challenges they’ve faced and the opportunities they’ve had, and give advice to those who will soon be following in their footsteps.  For the high school students, The Old-New Reunion is an opportunity to make connections with students attending colleges they have just applied to and to ask questions about particular colleges as well as college in general.  Another element that was new for the event this year was a special session just for the college students, to drive home the importance of building their networks while they are in college and to launch the “Getting Outside of the College Bubble Initiative” – through which Bright Prospect staff will send articles to college students every week to keep them informed about changes taking place in the world they will enter as professionals after they graduate from college. 

 

The annual Old-New Reunion is part of Bright Prospect’s programming to prepare high school students for college, to make sure they are connected to peers when they get there, and to continue to mentor our college students and give them opportunities to share the wisdom of their experience with younger students.

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