Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sequoia Adult School Scholars Program - Model for Success

        Helping adult learners succeed, one semester at a time

Sequoia Adult School Scholars (SASS) provides financial support, tutoring, and other assistance to adult students -- the vast majority of whom are immigrants working in minimum wage jobs -- so they can enroll in community college to continue their education, get jobs that pay family-sustaining wages, and serve as role models and advocates for their children.
Fall 2016
Meet Tania Ventura,  SASS's first coordinator
With close to 200 recipients,
40-plus tutors, a small but growing mentoring program, and a laptop donation program, SASS has a lot to keep track of. That's why, in early August, we hired our first coordinator, Tania Ventura, who is herself a SASS recipient. Tania has a full course load at Cañada and also works half-time for SASS, where she helps coordinate the SASS tutoring, Clipper Card, and laptop programs.
SASS Coordinator Tania Ventura
SASS expands laptop program
Thanks to contributions from two extremely generous donors, as well as a donation from Facebook, 40 SASS recipients are scheduled to receive laptops this academic year.  
In addition to enabling students to complete their assignments at home (as opposed to having to go to the library, often with children in tow), owning a laptop makes it possible for students to take online courses. For example, Lorenza Villanueva, who received a Microsoft Surface Tablet last year, is taking an online word processing class this semester.  

"Now that I have my own laptop, I have many more options," Lorenza says.

To learn more about the SASS laptop program, check out this article in Catalyst, a Microsoft publication that focuses on how Microsoft technology is used to foster social change.
SASS recipients Mauro Barrera and Lorenza Villanueva at the Microsoft Store in Palo Alto where they received Surface tablets. 
 Need a handyman?  Dog walker? Spanish tutor? SASS entrepreneurs are ready to help 
SASS entrepreneurs are SASS students and former students who have started their own businesses. To request a list of SASS entrepreneurs and their businesses, send an email to SASS coordinator Tania Ventura. All entrepreneurs can provide references. 
SASS recipients--and husband and wife-- Carlos Montes and Erendira Arcadia have started a handyman/remodeling business. 
Close to 200 SASS recipients head to college
This fall, SASS is supporting close to 200 students attending community colleges. About 95 percent of students are enrolled at Cañada College; the remainder attend other local community colleges including the College of San Mateo, Foothill College, and De Anza College. Students range in age from 19 to 66, with two thirds of students ages 25 - 44. About 85 percent are from Central America; the rest are from around the globe including Cambodia, Iran, Colombia, and Peru. Forty-six percent of recipients have children attending U.S. schools.   
Cañada College ESL students relax after class.
While most SASS recipients are ESL students, a growing number are High School Equivalency (HSE) students, adults who, due to challenges during high school, quit school, then returned to adult school to get a GED or high school diploma and, finally, enrolled in community college.  Stephanie Samson, featured below, is one of those students.
SASS recipient beats addiction and enrolls in college
SASS recipient Stephanie Samson quit high school when she was 17. The reasons she cites are "depression, panic disorder, substance abuse and addiction."

Five years and many hours of rehabilitation later, Stephanie enrolled in Sequoia Adult School to take the classes she needed to get her high school diploma. She received her diploma in June.  This semester she started classes at the College of San Mateo, with a goal of becoming a therapist specializing in addiction and alcoholism.
Stephanie Sampson 
"I've had to accomplish a lot to get to where I am today," Stephanie says. "First, I had to become sober. Second, I had to earn a high school diploma. And then I had to start college. Given where I was a few years ago, It's hard to believe I've made it this far."

Stephanie says that SASS has helped make college possible. "My funds are extremely limited," Stephanie says. "I'm not sure I would be in college if it weren't for the help I get from SASS."
In her own words... 
SASS recipient Silvia Gomez
A highlight of this year's annual fund-raiser, Sampling for Success,
Silvia Gomez 
was a speech by SASS recipient Silvia Gomez. In her speech she recounted her journey from Mexico to the US and explains the life-changing effects of learning English and continuing her education. Check out her moving five-minute speech here.   
Thank you, donors, for your past support! Everything you read here was made possible by your ongoing commitment and dedication to our students.

Donate Today!

Sequoia Adult School is part of the ACCEL Regional Consortia in San Mateo County
in the Peninsula part of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sequoia Adult School Scholars, 3481 Janice Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303

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