City Heights graduates create a college-going culture.
Roberto Carcamo, a first-generation college student, tutors a middle school student.
Fifteen of SDSU’s brightest students began their collegiate journeys last August with the help of a four- year annual scholarship from the Price Family Charitable Fund. Each of these Price Community Scholars is from the City Heights area of San Diego. They receive up to $7,500 in scholarship funds and, in turn, they help create a “college-going culture” in the neighborhood.
Roberto Carcamo, a sophomore studying business-finance, is a Price Scholar striving to make his mark on the community. A graduate of Hoover High School in the City Heights area, Carcamo is the first in his family to finish high school and go on to college. He balances schoolwork, a job, and being a mentor with the help of time management techniques taught through the Price Community Scholars program.
Carcamo and each of his fellow Price Scholarship recipients mentor three students to help motivate and prepare them for higher education. The program has a set curriculum and outcomes to be met, but the Price Scholars tailor each meeting to meet the needs of the mentees.
“These students are already capable of doing their own school work. Most of our students have a 4.0 GPA,” said Carcamo.
The middle school students learn about high school graduation requirements, SAT vocabulary and financial aid, among other topics relating to higher education.
The ultimate goal is for each of the students to graduate from high school and attend a 4-year university, but most of them will be first-generation college students with no family history of higher education.
The PIQE (The Parent Institute for Quality Education) program provides courses for parents who are interested in learning how to better prepare their child for college. With both the mentors and parents working to help these college-bound teens, they will have an ever-growing support system throughout middle school and beyond.
A community and SDSU Ambassador
The Price Community Scholars have not only had the chance to impact the lives of their mentees, but also to continuously grow and develop as individuals in their first year at SDSU.
Isabel Villalobos, also a sophomore Price Community Scholar, decided to take full advantage of her time at SDSU and get involved on campus. As an introverted freshman, Villalobos built up her confidence through Price Scholars workshops and applied for the competitive Ambassadors program.
She now gives campus tours to prospective Aztecs, while keeping up with her child and family development classes and mentoring three girls from Wilson Middle School, the same school she attended.
“I support my mentees no matter what the need, so they tell me everything whether it is social or academic. Sometimes it is even a little too much information!” Villalobos said.
Both Carcamo and Villalobos recognize that the Price Scholars program will make a huge impact on the lives of their mentees. In a community where youth can be influenced by their peers to go down the wrong path, having a positive role model to look up to could be the key to success.
“I was able to make it out, but that doesn’t mean that these kids will have that opportunity,” said Carcamo, who claims he would be working instead of going to school if not for the Price scholarship.
The domino effect
The common goal of all 15 Price Community Scholars is to create change in an environment where scholarship is not a priority.
“Starting with a small amount of the middle school population, we have the potential to create a chain reaction for the betterment of City Heights as a whole,” said Wendy Aleman, the program’s coordinator.
During their next 3 years at SDSU, Carcamo and Villalobos plan to continue to excel in their classes, extracurricular activities, and push their mentees to excel as well.