Education is a Path to Greater Independence for HOPE’s C2C Residents
by IAN NEVAREZ
Plato famously said, “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.” At HOPE we could not agree more. We believe that education is an important contributor to our resident’s ability to become increasingly self-reliant.
Beyond the philosophic, there is countless economic evidence that education is key to financial stability and greater independence. According to the Economic Report of the President, published in 2015, “College graduates make about twice as much every year as high school grads.” At HOPE we recognize the unique challenges that those we serve face when entering the job market. In turn, we are proud to be part of a partnership that strives to remove as many of these barriers as possible and puts in place supports to give our residents the very best chances at success.
That is why in 2010, with the vision and direction of Harbor Regional Center and California MENTOR, HOPE helped to develop our College to Career (C2C) program that offers dorm like housing near the campus of Long Beach City College. Students receive a full range of both on-campus and residential supports by service providers who offer both academic counseling and also assistance with independent living skills.
Of course our residents are no different from any student; each person brings their unique inspiration to why they are pursuing education as a pathway to independence. For Taylor Smith, a C2C enrollee in Long Beach, it was his interest in public safety that started him down the path to hopefully becoming a peace officer one day. He is currently studying administrative justice due to his strong impulse to protect and serve his community.
He admits that moving to his HOPE home was a big first step toward independent living. He is up for the challenge, and knows it will be hard work. But Taylor is also still a college student who just enjoys the opportunity the C2C program provides to socialize with his peers in a nonjudgmental environment. In the end, he is glad that this program has given him the chance to make proud the people he loves in his life.
His dorm mate, Morris Mordado, also sees his time in the program as instrumental to learning how to become independent and take better care of himself. “Living on my own is a big difference, cooking for myself is completely new. Before I moved out I lived with my family,” he shares.
Currently Morris is majoring in graphic design and radio / television production. After he graduates he wants to work in a production studio. He has a clear goal to one day be employed in the entertainment industry where he will hopefully do design, art, editing, or cinematography.
Lastly, Javier Reyes Jr. echoes a similar sentiment about living on his own for the first time. “I have to shop for myself, clean for myself, and do laundry.” He says that this transition process has been aided by observing his friends in order to learn their routines. He is currently studying horticulture and hopes to get a job in that industry after graduating.
California MENTOR director, Roxanne Carter, tells us though that it isn’t always easy for C2C students to find the major that interests them and leads to academic success. Javier, she shares, was not doing well early in the program as an art major. Things turned around after his counselor dug deeper and helped him to identify what he was really most passionate about studying: he did enjoy drawing, but he really loved creating images of plants. From those conversations, they discovered that he also had a knack for science. From that point on Javier found greater success after switching to become a horticulture major.
So now he is working on combining his passion for horticulture and art. Javier is really excited about a suggestion made by one C2C service provider to consider creating children’s books based on plants. He hopes to one day work on cartoons and video games that contain characters that are fruits & vegetables. At the moment he says, he is just focusing on living independently and getting his homework done.
HOPE is inspired everyday by the will-power of our residents to continually strive for more full, involved, and impactful lives. Education is essential to each of their journeys toward greater independence, and with the generosity of our donors, volunteers, and advocates, HOPE and our partners will be there to support them every step of the way.