PSP College Success Retreat at UCLA!

August 22, 2017 in Articles by Joselyn Barrios

On August 4-6 rising 70 high school juniors and seniors and 13 mentors and staff joined us for three action packed days at UCLA! The PSP staff created workshops and lectures to help the scholars learn about the college application and financial aid process. Scholars even got to experience one of the UCLA housing facilities and dining halls for the weekend!

Read our full post for more details, pictures and videos from the retreat!

The Plus Me Project’s Richard Reyes addressing our scholars and mentors on Friday, August 4th.

On Friday, August 4, Richard Reyes from The Plus Me Project was our keynote speaker and shared his own story about health and higher education. It was inspirational to our scholars and mentors alike! Scholars began crafting and perfecting their personal statements with help of Richard as he taught our scholars that they each have a unique and important story to tell.

Our scholars shared experiences that made them who they are as part of an exercise with Richard.

Saturday morning, the scholars got to participate in a team building challenge course facilitated by UCLA staff. They worked together and saw the importance of working in teams to accomplish goals. They also learned the value of trust in others as they worked on aspects of the course individually while being assisted by their fellow scholars. This activity was not only fun, it helped boost a lot of our scholars confidence. As one student says “The challenge course was my favorite part because I faced my fears and learned that anything is possible.”

Scholars worked in teams to complete the challenge course.

Students took turns working individually while being supported by their teammates.

Financial aid is always an important topic and our scholars and learned more about the various ways to finance their higher education. We enjoyed a presentation by a UCLA financial aid representative and reviewed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Our students were able to see that financing a higher education is possible and that there are scholarships, grants and loans available to them and their families.

Scholars broke off into smaller teams to research potential schools and scholarship requirements.

On Saturday, August, 5 we had six PSP alumni that are currently in college return to speak with our scholars. They were asked questions by our PSP staff member Maria, and by our scholars. We had representatives from UC Davis, The University of Dubuque, UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley and UCLA. They spoke on their experiences during the college application and selection process. They also gave students an insight about what college is really like and how they overcame challenges associated with transitioning from high school to college. When surveyed, this was a favorite among our scholars as 77% of them rated this as this activity as their favorite part of the day.

Our six PSP alumni help a panel to answer questions from our current scholars.

On Sunday, August 6, we had our Career Pathways panel. We invited five professionals from different industries to give our scholars more information on possible career pathways. Scholars were able to ask the panel questions about their jobs and their career journeys. We had the presenters below from five completely different fields:

Jesus Herrera-Urban Planner, City of Los Angeles Department of Regional Planning
Jessica Vazquez-High School Counselor, Hawthorne Math and Science Academy
Rafael Yanez-Environmental Engineering Associate, City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Sanitation Wastewater Collection System Division
Dr. Eduardo Anorga, Physician, Torrance Memorial Hospital
Jocelyn Cruz- Executive Assistant of Domestic Marketing, supporting The Co-President of Domestic Marketing, Paramount Pictures

Some of our scholars heard about careers that they had never considered before and they were able to see that there are so many possibilities for their futures!

Our five person career panel gave scholars more information on various fields.

Our scholars had a blast spending time together while navigating the college admissions process. They learned so much in a short amount of time and are ready to begin their junior and senior year. As always, PSP aims to give our scholars the most beneficial information in order to make the college admission and transition process as smooth as possible. We look forward to working with these students once they are beginning to apply for college and when it comes to making their decisions!

A student summed up his weekend with this comment: “The most useful part of the retreat was getting all the information we need to fill out our college applications. It was an amazing experience and I’m glad I didn’t miss out.”

Click on the videos below to for a sample of the questions asked at our alumni panel:

For more information on the PSP College Success Retreat please contact Maria Hernandez at 

You may download and view some of the materials we shared at the retreat workshops below

  1. College Board Timeline- Juniors
  2. College Board Timeline- Seniors
  3. College Application Process
  4. Helpful Resources for College and Scholarship Research
  5. College List
  6. Brag Sheet
  7. Letter of Recommendation Request
  8. Copy of FAFSA Application
  9. Test Dates 17-18
  10. Volunteer Opportunities