Edgar Corona
Partnership Scholar attended Georgetown University
Graduated from Mountain View High School in 2008

Edgar Corona graduated from Georgetown University in 2012 with the intention of moving to New York to work for the National Football League for two years. Fast forward five years, and Edgar is still living happily in the Big Apple working with the NFL as their manager for Hispanic Marketing Initiatives. That means he’s doing research, analytics, promotion strategy, project management, and building client relationships all to makes sure NFL is on track to reach the Latino community.

What’s Edgar’s advice for the soon-to-be graduates of PSP’s class of 2017? “Don’t be afraid to ask questions!” encourages Edgar. “Be willing to learn and take risks. Try things outside of your comfort zone.”

Edgar’s inspiration to pursue a career working in sports management stems from his experiences in middle and high school as part of the Partnership Scholars Program in El Monte. Edgar clearly recalls attending his first sporting event – a basketball game – at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles with his mentor. “That was the first thing that sparked my interest in working in sports entertainment,” says Edgar. “That gave me the curiosity about what draws people to sports.” He remembers being fascinated by the psychology behind people’s passion for professional sports, seeing fans get so incredibly involved in their team and the game.

For Edgar, being a part of PSP had a huge impact on how he began viewing the world around him and encouraged him to look beyond the small community of El Monte. “A very important part of the program was getting to know what you didn’t know,” says Edgar. One thing that struck him especially was attending a Chicano rally with his mentor, which made him realize what empowerment meant. He also clearly recalls his first train travel with his mentor in PSP. “The idea of riding the Amtrak meant interconnecting with the rest of society,” says Edgar. “It symbolized to me that there was more to the world than El Monte. That freedom really came through.”

After leaving El Monte to start his undergraduate studies at Georgetown, Edgar faced challenges that are common amongst first generation students. “When you’re going from Mountain View, which is like 95% Latino, to Georgetown that’s like 9% Latino, it’s a challenging transition,” says Edgar. He vividly remembers during the first few weeks of his first semester on campus sitting in the library overhearing another student struggling with a class, on the phone with their parent getting help and thinking, “That’s not fair.” But, Edgar utilized many campus resources and peer groups to help him pull through. He looks back to his time in PSP, saying that even before college, the PSP cohort model helped him learn to rely on others who were going through similar experiences and challenges. “I found the support system very helpful,” says Edgar. “It was great to have the cohort. Each of us held each other accountable.”

Jose Gaona
Partnership Scholar at American University
Graduated from Fort Bragg High School in 2015

Recently recognized as one of ten most influential students at American University, PSP alumnus Jose Gaona graduated from Fort Bragg High School in 2015 and is entering his second year as a Political Science and Latino Studies double major. As the president of AU’s chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens and a program assistant for the nonprofit organization, Latino Student Fund, Jose has shown himself to be a true leader and advocate for the Latino community.

But activism is not new to Jose. His involvement in politics began in Fort Bragg with the help of mentor Rachel Binah. In 2008, Jose traveled with Rachel and other scholars to Washington D.C. for President Obama’s inauguration. “That experience was really where it began,” says Jose. “That introduction to politics was really big for me.” From there, Jose became involved in the resurrection of the Mendocino Coast Democratic Club and served as the student representative to the Fort Bragg Unified School District Board of Trustees for three years beginning in his freshman year. “Engaging with a board at that level really opened my eyes to government and boards,” says Jose. “I learned to represent the needs of the community.”

It was during PSP’s college retreat that Jose first learned about American University and their highly rated political science program. “As I was going through the acceptance rate, demographics of the university, the majors and fields, I started to develop an interest in it,” says Jose.

Though he does not necessarily self-identify as an activist, Jose can easily be called a champion for Latino students, taking on leadership roles in progressive organizations that fight for advancement of minority groups. Since arriving in D.C., he has had the opportunity to meet with several dignitaries, including the first Cuban Ambassador to the United States in over 50 years.

Although Jose never set foot on campus at American University prior to starting school there last fall, he has found himself right at home at the private school in our nation’s capital. He encourages his fellow scholars to take risks and follow their passion. “If a student is scared to apply to a university or to think about majoring in something because it seems like a lot, they should go for it if they know it’s what they want,” says Jose. “Always remember that opportunities are there – anywhere – you just have to go out and look for them. Showing up is half the work!”

Havana University

Mario Gonzalez
Partnership Scholar at Cal State Dominguez Hills
Graduated from Animo Leadership Charter School in 2014

Mario is currently in his second year at Cal State Dominguez Hills studying sociology and computer science.

Through several campus groups that Mario is active with — including the Chicano Studies Club, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) and Phi Iota Alpha — Mario has been able to take advantage of traveling all over California. In July 2015, Mario travelled to Cuba for 10 days with his sociology class. The purpose of the trip was to better understand the reality of life in Cuba, especially now that the country’s relationship with the US has changed. They also explored the meaning of cultural terms like “Hispanic,” “Latino” and “Chicano.” Mario’s experience was eye-opening as he realized how open and accepting the Cuban culture is as compared to what he had expected.

The trip to Cuba was Mario’s first opportunity to travel outside of the US and Mexico, and sparked a desire in him to seek out more opportunities to travel and study abroad. Mario plans return to Cuba next June with a professor from Cal State Dominguez Hills to see more of the country outside of Havana. “I want to see Cuba for what it really is,” says Mario.

His long term goal is to work with elementary and middle school aged kids to encourage them and support them in realizing that they can leave their hometowns and do more with their lives.

“…I spend time with high school and middle school friends and realize I’m the only one who went to college,” says Mario. “I see a lot of potential [in them] but because of who they associate with and the lack of support where they are, they don’t make it.”

Monica Ruiz

Monica Ruiz
Partnership Scholar at UC Berkeley
Graduated from Ukiah HS in 2014

In her second year at UC Berkeley, Monica holds leadership roles in three different university organizations: Hermanas Unidas which supports college persistence for Latina women, Bright Smile which provides mentoring to local middle school students, and her intramural volleyball team.

Monica sent PSP an essay about her first year as a college student. She describes her challenges and successes and demonstrates the resiliency and ambition that is typical of a Partnership Scholar. She begins it by writing,

“I rarely find myself speechless, however sitting on Memorial Glade at UC Berkeley, soaking up the sun, I lost my ability to think clearly as I began to realize how fortunate I was to be a student at the number one public university in the world. It has not been a flawless or even natural adjustment, but it was one that made me proud and ecstatic to be a Golden Bear. Today I find myself surround by new friends, new passions, and a renewed drive to succeed.”
You can read Monica’s full essay here.

Amy Chieng
Partnership Scholar at UC Berkeley
Graduated from El Monte High School in 2011

Amy is majoring in psychology at UC Berkeley, and her goals involve graduating, going to graduate school and working with babies in a hospital in the future. She loves UC Berkeley because of the top notch education and amazing people that she has met there.

Amy says ” Being a PSP scholar allowed me to encounter many first experiences, especially traveling to places I had never gone to before. Without this program I probably wouldn’t have tried to apply to the colleges I did. Even though Harvard, Yale, and Columbia didn’t accept me, I at least had a chance of being accepted. Not applying meant no chance at all.”

Joanna Marrufo
Partnership Scholar attended UC Berkeley
Graduated from Mountain View High School in 2011 

Since completing PSP in 2011 and graduating from Mountain View High School, Joanna has had opportunities that most 23-year-olds only dream of. From presenting scientific research at a national conference to snorkeling in Thailand, she has continued to excel and follow her ambitions.

Before attending UC Berkeley in the fall of 2011, Joanna participated in the summer bridge program and was introduced to the Biology Scholars Program. BSP supports students at Berkeley from underrepresented backgrounds in the sciences to succeed and thrive. Through BSP, Joanna was able to take advantage of scholarships, internships, research opportunities and conferences throughout her undergraduate experience. “Getting a chance to do research gave me another opportunity to benefit from mentorship,” says Joanna.

At her first national conference for the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos, Latinos and Native Americans in Science in Seattle, Joanna was able to present her research to her peers. “It was so empowering because I don’t always get to experience that at Berkeley,” Joanna reflected on her time at the conference with other underrepresented students from all over the country. Through the National Science Foundation, she applied for and accepted a highly competitive internship at University of Delaware where she studied invasive marine crabs. “These programs are harder to get into than medical school,” said Joanna. “Only eight out of hundreds were accepted.” The experience at UD was eye-opening and challenging for Joanna being one of very few Latinas in a small town on the east coast.

The following year, Joanna was one of three students chosen for a semester-long fellowship at Duke University at their Marine Laboratory. During the fellowship, she was able to conduct independent research and did a two-week study abroad program in the Bahamas where she went snorkeling for the first time. From there, Joanna received a scholarship to attend a study abroad summer program in Thailand during which she was able to get scuba certified. After finishing her studies in Thailand, Joanna participated in another internship funded through the NSF with the Diversity Project at UCLA where she was able to travel to French Polynesia and conduct more research. In her final year at Berkeley, she participated in a field biology course in Costa Rica where she connected with advisors at a graduate program, which she plans to start in January 2017. While back in El Monte for the next year, she is giving back to her community, making keynote speeches at her alma maters — Payne Elementary and Kranz Intermediate — and tutoring with the Upward Bound program. She intends on substitute teaching and is working with PSP to do alumni outreach as well.

“PSP helped me since I was in the 7th grade and I still stay in touch with my mentor,” said Joanna. She is the second youngest of six and is a first generation college graduate.

Edgar Corona
Partnership Scholar attended Georgetown University
Graduated from Mountain View High School in 2008.

After successfully finishing up an internship at ESPN in New York City last summer, Edgar is finishing his last spring semester at Georgetown University and getting ready to graduate this May. He recently received and accepted an offer to work for the National Football League (NFL) at their league office in New York City next year. He was one of eight students across the United States out of 2,300 applicants admitted in this NFL Junior Rotational Program.

This is a very exciting opportunity for Edgar and we congratulate his success!
Click here to read a letter about his experience with PSP. 

David Yanez
Partnership Scholar attended University of Pennsylvania
Graduated from Fort Bragg High School in 2007

David graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 with a B.A. in political science and a minor in French. After graduating, he moved to Washington, D.C. where he interned at a non profit organization and the Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer before taking a position with the Office of U.S. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado. David is thankful for the support the program provided him with and the confidence the Partnership Scholars community gave him to aspire to higher goals.
We are very proud of David success and wish him well with his career in Washington DC!

Maria Hernandez
Partnership Scholar attended UCLA
Graduated from Animo Leadership Charter High School in 2005

Graduated from UCLA June 2010 with BA in Chicano/a Studies and a minor in Education Studies. Maria has been working part time for the Partnership Scholars Program since January 2007 and became a full time Administrative Assistant/College Access Coordinator in September 2010.  She is a mentor for five scholars and wants to encourage more Partnership Scholars alumni to get involved in mentoring. She is also working on developing an Alumni Association to keep our alumni connected with the program.

Gustavo Rios
Partnership Scholar attended UC Irvine, now at CalTech   Graduated from El Segundo High School in 2004

Gustavo graduated from UC Irvine in 2009 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Currently attending the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) working towards his PhD in Bioengineering.

Gustavo recently spoke to the newest 7th grade scholars at the Lennox Middle School and this is what he had to say….“It’s unfortunate that more students could not be part of the Partnership Scholars program. The scholar label provides a student with self-confidence and motivates them to excel academically, just like it did for me. Having come from a background similar to yours, I can assure you that academic success is not out of reach. This program helps diminish the education gap between you and students that come from more privileged backgrounds. It does so by partnering the student with a mentor and participating in out of class enriching activities. Visiting museums and attending a theatrical play with my mentor was enlightening and is truly memorable for me. So make sure to get the most out of this opportunity. I wish you all the best of luck!”
 Thank you Gustavo for speaking at the Lennox Induction and inspiring a whole new generation of scholars with your story of success.

Milagro (Romero) Pulido
Partnership Scholar attended Loyola Marymount University
Graduated from St. Bernard’s High School in 2002

Milagro is one of our original seven Partnership Scholars who started at Lennox Middle School in 1996. She graduated from St. Bernard’s High School in 2002 as Valedictorian.  She then went on to receive her B.A in Political Science 2006 from Loyola Marymount University with a full ride scholarship. During her time in Loyola she studied abroad for a semester in Spain. In 2008, she received a Master’s of Arts in Teaching with Summa Cum Laude honors from USC. She is currently a 7th/8th grade math teacher and math department chair at Lennox Middle School. Milagro takes pride in giving back to the Lennox community through the teaching profession by making a difference in the lives of her students. She is currently actively involved in the Partnership Scholars Program and is mentoring several of the program’s scholars.

Thank you Milagro for being a shining example of “giving back” to Partnership Scholars Program.