Stephanie Mendez, 18
"Growing up, I never stayed at a school for more than three years, and I think that made me fall off track. I attended high school in East Los Angeles for freshmen year before moving to Arkansas. Over there, schools were much smaller, which made it easier for teachers to give me more guidance with my studies. October 2018, I moved back to LA to live with my sister. I attended my old high school here, but the big classrooms were not working out for me. When I turned 18, I decided to enroll in LA CAUSA, and I am very happy I did. For the first time, I actually enjoy coming to school. Teachers and staff really take their time to support me and the rest of the students. Now I am doing great in school, and I learned that college is an option. I plan on going to Rio Hondo College and then transferring to a university to study marketing and film studies.”
Santiago Gabriel, 24
“I was born in Mexico, but my family moved to California when I was three and a half years old. At the age of eight, my family decided to move to Chicago. Growing up, I never really liked school and did not do very well. It was in high school that one teacher finally told my mother that I was smart, but just needed to put more effort into my work. Junior year of high school I was removed from my high school and sent to a continuation school due to my grades. Around that same time, a sister from the church helped my family out by buying plane tickets for my brother and I to move to California so we would not be involved in the gang activity in Chicago. In California I joined another program before LA CAUSA, but I did not feel engaged. Luckily, through a magazine ad, I found LA CAUSA. Ever since, I have learned to look at school with a positive perspective. LA CAUSA has given me the opportunity to improve myself, and now I am on my way to a brighter future, despite the fact that I am undocumented. I am graduating this June, and will be attending LATTC. I plan on studying culinary arts and becoming a chef.”
Leonel Roldan, 19
Throughout my childhood my family constantly moved around all over California. Due to this, I was constantly changing schools, sometimes more than twice a year. I definitely enjoyed going to school, but constantly moving made it very hard for me to keep up. When I was 16 years old my parents moved up north, and I stayed in Southern California. I started working in order to sustain myself. It became very hard for me to balance school, work, and playing soccer, and as a result, I was unable to graduate senior year. Two years later, I heard about LA CAUSA through a friend of mine. I decided to enroll, and was told I would be able to finish in six months, when other schools had told me it would take approximately one year and a half. Throughout my time at LA CAUSA I have received a lot of support from teachers and staff. I have learned things you usually do not learn at a regular high school through the Life Skills class, which has included how to open up a bank account and how to maintain a healthy credit. I am happy I found LA CAUSA and I wish I would have decided to attend earlier. I will be graduating this June and I am planning on attending Rio Hondo College.