Family-based support paves the path to college
Friends Give a Hand Up to College
The emotion in her voice and the tears in her eyes expressed both joy and relief. Ada Arciga has three daughters and she expects them all to go to college. This part of the American dream - a college education - is now in reach for Ada and her family.
Getting to this point has been a long and difficult journey. One of the most important decisions Ada made was to take part in the activities of Sunday Friends.
"The education system here in America is very different than what exists in Mexico," Ada explains. Sunday Friends has been important to Ada and her family because the organization has provided a lot of information, resources and help with the college application process.
Founded by Janis Baron in 1997, Sunday Friends serves families in San Jose, California. The organization’s mission "empowers families to break the generational cycle of poverty by fostering positive development in children, while educating and guiding parents to support their children's life success."
Sunday Friends has many programs supporting the needs of the diverse community it serves. In the Latino community, access to information and resources is critical. When and how to apply for college and how to pay for it are some of the biggest concerns for parents.
The Path-to-College program offers information on the college application process and available financial aid opportunities. Consultants address questions or concerns a family may have. Additionally, Sunday Friends offers scholarships to college-bound students. Financial support helps motivate these young students and their families to make college a reality. Even a modest amount of scholarship or financial aid support can make the difference between getting a job after high school, or going to college to pursue education and career aspirations.
Talking about her daughters’ education, Ada emphasizes, "It isn't important what they study or where they study. The number one priority has to be that the child has a desire to go to college, achieve and graduate."
For many young Latinos, the desire to go to college can often be fraught with challenges.
The pressure to graduate high school and get a job to help support their families is real. A college education often takes a back seat to the family's day-to-day survival.
An example of this is Javier Ibanez. At 29 years old, Javier is an atypical college junior. That's because Javier started working right after graduating from high school. College was a dream deferred.
Javier has lived the challenges faced by immigrant Latino families in Silicon Valley. He knows that without an education, he has fewer options to reach his full potential. He credits Sunday Friends for helping him get to, and through, college.
"I knew I could do better for myself and my family," he said. "You can always make time (for school) to try and get ahead in life."
As he works toward graduation, Javier works as a part-time staff member. His time at Sunday Friends also influenced his decision to major in education. He wants to focus on helping children. Dedicated to graduating in his chosen field, and with the Sunday Friends community by his side, Javier looks toward a bright future.
Other Sunday Friends students are realizing the dream of a college education too. Ada shared the college admission letter her daughter received from her preferred university. Ada’s joy and pride was palpable. She is no longer dreaming.
1. Age should not hold you back from achieving your education. Nobody can take an education away from you.
2. Look into community college as a first step. As a local and less expensive option, it can be a great first step toward a college bachelor’s degree.
3. Look into scholarships and financial aid. There is a lot of money out there intended to help people. Begin with an online search. Follow-up with a trusted local organization with expertise.
4. Parents can't make everything happen for their kids. But, it is invaluable for parents to be there as support, a guiding light, and their kids' #1 fan.
5. Save early and save often. The financial stress of going to college can be overwhelming for families. Despite the challenge of providing for basic needs, parents must try to save for their child's education.