Fifteen high-achieving students from City Heights and its surrounding areas will mentor three middle school students from the same neighborhood as part of the first cohort of Price Community Scholars at San Diego State University.
Each of the Price Community Scholars, selected from a pool of freshmen who will enroll at SDSU this fall, will help support and motivate their mentees over the next four years as they prepare for and eventually apply to colleges.
Funded by a four-year, $472,500 grant from the Price Family Charitable Fund, each scholar will receive an annual scholarship up to $7,500.
“It feels good to have someone who believes in you. Everybody should have that somebody.”
Price Scholar Isamaria Cortes, 17, will graduate from Crawford High School in June. Cortes was accepted to U.C. Berkeley and U.C.L.A. but said the opportunity to give back to her community as part of the Price Community Scholars program was one she could not pass up.
“I’ve been lucky to have a lot of people who helped me to find my way since I was a kid,” Cortes said. “It feels good to have someone who believes in you. Everybody should have that somebody.”
Cortes hopes to be that ‘somebody’ for the three students she will mentor as a Price Community Scholar, but she said she knows the experience will be of equal benefit to her.
“Having someone look up to you makes you want to be a better person so being a Price Scholar will give us a purpose while we are students at SDSU,” said Cortes, a first-generation college student who plans to major in biology and eventually go into the medical field.
Supporting the best and brightest
Cortes and the other Price Community Scholars are among the brightest of SDSU’s incoming 2012 class with an average high school grade point average of 3.91. Most of them graduated from Crawford or Hoover High School but all reside in the City Heights area.
“The Price Community Scholars program is a major step forward for San Diego State University and City Heights,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman.
“We are deeply grateful to the Price Family Charitable Fund for joining us in envisioning how San Diego’s best and brightest students can develop their leadership abilities while giving back to the City Heights community and mentoring our next generation of high-achieving students. This is a great example of how ‘Leadership Starts Here’ at San Diego State University.”
As mentors, the Price Community Scholars will be enrolled in an academic learning community with a focus on service learning where they will be trained to provide their middle school mentees with support and guidance that will prepare them for higher education.
“The Price Scholars will provide the social and cultural capital that first-generation college students might not have because their parents did not go to college,” said Eric Rivera, associate vice president of student affairs, who will help oversee the program.
The scholars will also be given tools to help their mentees develop and enhance essential academic skills in both math and writing.
SDSU selected the 15 Price Community Scholars after interviewing nearly 50 local incoming first-time freshmen who are enrolling at SDSU in fall 2012. They will serve in the program for four years.
The middle-school participants will be selected through consultation with counselors and teachers.
“We want this program to give these middle school students hope, we want them to see their future through the eyes of their SDSU mentors,” Rivera said.