By Kelly Hofer, Pre-Collegiate Program Coordinator, Lake County High School
Three years ago, community members of Lake County saw the need to help students matriculate into college- especially male Latino students. With the Youth Master Plan providing direction, and the support of the High Country Regional Council, Lake County Build a Generation spearheaded an action committee to explore post-secondary readiness programs, from which the Pre-Collegiate Program was designed.
In the first school year (2015-16), the Pre-Collegiate Program’s goal was to serve 10 juniors and 10 seniors; however, we served 75 students grades 9th – 12th in Lake County High School who reached their post-secondary education goals. This year, 75 studentswill enroll in the Pre-Collegiate Program. In the coming years we hope to involve 80 scholars, which would be over one third of the high school student body, so that students like Jorge have the opportunity to pursue careers or continue education after high school.
Jorge is a senior at Lake County High School in Leadville who is currently involved with the Pre-Collegiate Program. Ever since he was a little boy interpreting for his Spanish-speaking father’s physical therapy appointments, Jorge knew he wanted to be a physical therapist. He saw how his father fought to regain strength and health, and was impressed with how the physical therapist took the time to care for his dad’s wellbeingand knew that speaking Spanish would be an asset for his future patients, too. Most of all, he knew that he wanted to make his father proud, and that he didn’t want to be stuck in a low wage job struggling to make ends meet.
By the time Jorge got into high school, his dream job was solidified. He did not, however, have a clear picture of how he would get there. He enrolled in the Pre-Collegiate Program without hesitation knowing he could use the support and resources the program offered. Jorge, like many of his peers, will be the first person in his family to graduate from high school, and the first person to continue to college.
Navigating the college admissions process is daunting. Filling out college applications, taking the ACT/SAT, writing personal essays, and applying for scholarships and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be intimidating and overwhelming. This is especially true for first generation college students and their parents. This is the very reason why the Lake County Pre-Collegiate Program exists: to empower students with the knowledge and skills necessary to enroll and matriculate into the post-secondary institution of their choice.
Thanks to community partners and foundation support, Pre-Collegiate students like Jorge are able receive the opportunities and support needed to reach their dreams.