Reflections from Tutors
I think that I probably learned more from the community then they've learned from me. I've learned to be culturally competent and to be conscious of the different learning styles. My students tell me so many stories about their families that I've actually learned more about their culture through personal narratives then reading a book. I've learned about the social struggles that my students and teacher experience, such as unequal distribution of resources, overcrowding of classrooms, and the effect of a lack of personal tutoring on a student. From the Linda Vista community, I've also been able to connect my work with larger societal issues that determine the strength of public education. This connection has motivated me to focus my work on underprivileged communities while still considering how my privileged USD life can effect the connection I develop with my students that are of an ethnic background. -- Julieta Barrios
American Indian Recruitment Program
The following is a speech given by USD student, Christy Garcia, when the American Indian Recruitment Program named her Mentor of the Year.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Christian Garcia also known as Christy Garcia. It is a great honor to receive this award. Thank you all for making this evening possible and for your great support and belief of the AIR program. By all of you being here, it truly shows the respect and support for our fellow students and mentors. It is you all that give this program the opportunity to succeed because without the support of our sponsors, teachers, family members, friends, and mentors this program wouldn’t be what it is today.
I’m currently a senior at the University of San Diego studying Ethnic Studies and Psychology. In 2006, thanks to Dr. Michelle Jacob, I became a mentor for the AIR program. Dr. Jacob is the best professor every student wishes to have. She will do anything to help her students succeed. Her great charisma and spirit carries everyone away. In her first year of teaching at USD, she has done so much that everyone is in awe. Having USD partnering with the AIR program is just one of her accomplishments and many to come. Therefore, it is the first year USD partners with the AIR program. She worked closely with Community Service Learning at USD. I remember the first day of class, I learned about this amazing opportunity, which was to serve as a mentor for the AIR program, I had a class conflict, but I was so interested in it that I decided to drop the other class, in order to serve. Since the first day I participated in AIR, I’ve loved it since then. With this being said, from the bottom of my heart, I present this award given to me to Dr. Jacob because in my eyes she has been the mentor of the year. I have chosen her to be my advisor/mentor for a research project that I will be conducting this upcoming year. I am so excited for this and many things down my journey because I found a passion in American Indian Studies.
I can still clearly remember my senior year in high school. I grew up on the San Pasqual Indian Reservation and graduated from Valley Center High School in 2004. My senior year was a life changing experience. It was difficult to wake up one morning to find that everything I have earned due to hard work and sacrifice can be gone in a day. After the 2003 Paradise Fires of Southern California destroyed my home and community, I presented myself strong to everybody and showed that, no matter what, I could overcome any challenge. During this tragedy, I felt that it was my responsibility to help my family surpass the loss. Since I was a little girl I have shown great potential and motivation to succeed. Some of the qualities that have helped me over the years have been my persistence, hard work and determination. I see challenges as an opportunity to learn and improve myself. Therefore, I remained determined to graduate high school and attend college regardless of my new responsibilities to my family. All I can say is that challenges will always exist but they will only accelerate the plan to improve my life. I remember embarking on a new journey, a new beginning, which was starting my college career at the University of San Diego. This new path that I had chosen to partake will be mimicked by me once again. I thank all those that have helped me through this journey, those that have supported me through it and to those that have shown me a new path where everything is possible. I have accomplished my goal to go to college and I am now forth to my new planned endeavors. I will now be the first in my family to graduate from college in the Spring of 08’ with my Bachelor’s degree. It is like a dream come true.
Through my experiences and people that I have met, college has prepared me for my new journey and new challenges to come. It has also given me some of the happiest days of my life that has shaped the person that I am now. One of the greatest things about life is that we all come from different walks of life, we keep learning things about ourselves and others, and that is what makes us who we are. I will now be embarking on a new journey, new doors are awaiting for me to open, a drive for excellence and success, new challenges to meet, regardless of what my future might uphold, nothing will impede my progress. My new endeavors will be to work with American Indian communities with issues that are resting to be resolved. I love motivating children to go to college. I have decided that I want to pursue my Doctoral Degree in American Indian Studies and possibly a Joint Degree on American Indian Studies and American Indian Law. My goal is to work with American Indian communities and strive to improve and help with the struggle to obtain sovereignty, self-determination they deserve. These are my future ambitions. My new interest is to participate in the Teach for America program for two years and move on to graduate school after that.
As a mentor, I am proud to represent the AIR program. I like to be seen as a positive role model, a friend, and/or a teacher who they can always count on. Positive role models provide appropriate guidance, motivation, and the support students deserve. Our attitudes and perseverance is what makes the difference in our lives. Our backgrounds do not determine our successes and failures, but our desire and motivation to succeed. It is through sharing my own personal experiences, accomplishments, and failures, that I was able to implement the importance of education. I will be able to positively influence their lives and encourage them to live to their fullest potential. Seeing students succeed is priceless. Children are our future leaders of tomorrow. New generations are in the hands of our youth. Kara, one of AIR students that I mentored received several college acceptances, and will be attending California State University San Marcos in the fall. Also, seeing how my younger siblings, Pablo and Jackie progress and improve in school gives me the strength and motivation to keep moving forward and continuing my successes. These are things that I will always treasure for life.
I strongly believe in knowledge is power. My goal is to share and teach others the importance of it. It is the key element of life. A good education will take you to new places, meet new people, and most important it will create you. The power of knowledge brings to light the truths about history. It can decolonize the minds of the uneducated and the uninformed. The present and the near future cannot exist if we do not have a sense of the past. The AIR program provides Native students the opportunity to learn about the wrongs and ambitions imposed on us in society. The AIR Program is important because one cannot begin to understand the power of knowledge until it is taught; one must be guided through the process of learning. It opens new doors, shapes us into great individuals, and prepares us for the real world and the new changes in our near future. College education shapes students identity and helps to develop their voice.
I live by the belief that there is nothing impossible in life. It only becomes impossible when one stops trying and gives up. Choosing the harder and less traveled path can make the difference. I decided to go to college because I wanted to earn respect as a responsible individual and to make my family proud. Education has empowered and encouraged me to take the less traveled path, and that is what has made all the difference. One can understand the great excitement of such an accomplishment when they have experienced it themselves. This one is for all you students. Strive to be happy and never let anybody tell you that you cannot be that somebody. We all face fears but if we believe in the desire that burns in our hearts, we will move forward, live our dreams, persevere, and succeed. I have witnessed that our perseverance help us succeed in our most difficult times in life.
Montgomery Middle School
A graduate student whose supervision has been grant-funded has expressed what a remarkable and significant experience this has been in her education and her preparation as a therapist. She has worked both at the Linda Vista Teen Center with all 70 youth, and in a focused way with 3, and at Montgomery Middle School with 10 youth. She has devoted 20 hours per week to this work and will continue to work with these youth during the summer. Her focused attention and talented interaction with youth has been commented on by the Teen Center staff. Since many of our joint service projects have been with this group of students, her work has had significant impact.
“Beginning in November I embarked on a challenging and rewarding journey. I became a school counselor trainee at Montgomery Middle School located in the heart of Linda Vista. This community, just a couple miles above from the beautiful University of San Diego, sees its share of gangs, causing violence and destruction throughout the neighborhoods. Although this area has its challenges, Linda Vista is also a close-knit multicultural community filled with rich history and traditions. Throughout this experience I have seen how powerful a mentor figure can be for these adolescents as they struggle with who they are and where they want to go in life. They face huge obstacles both in their family and social lives. Below I have provided a couple examples of two students that I have seen in therapy that have overcome many challenges already and how they are managing to reach their academic goals. I have changed their names to protect their privacy.
Over the last couple months I began an 8th grade girls group. A majority of these girls were mandated to attend the group due to their disruptive behaviors in school or due to their poor academics. One girl in the group, Clara, had poor grades and was caught smoking marijuana on school grounds. As I began getting to know her better she opened up to me about how her family was torn apart as her parents were taken off to jail due to child abuse. Clara was sent to San Diego to live with family friends. This family took her in but home life was still full of fighting, providing her with little support. In our group, Clara is working on developing higher self esteem through making new friends that give her the encouragement she needs to succeed. Together we have looked ahead at what she wants to do with her life and what she can see herself doing after high school. Clara still faces little family support, but through her new friends she is finding the strength to reach for her dreams.
Anisha is another young girl who recently has been accepted back into Montgomery after a probation period where she attended a juvenile delinquent school. I began seeing her after she reportedly had a fight on school grounds. After calming her down, she reported to me how difficult home is for her. She lives with her grandmother who is diabetic and slowly losing feeling in her feet. Her mother is a drug addict and they have a very conflictual relationship. Anisha’s younger sister is living with their mother, which causes Anisha constant worry about her sister’s well-being. I discussed with Anisha why school is difficult for her as I see her as a very bright and creative girl. She talked about how she has to take care of her grandmother, keep her sister safe from their mother’s abuse, and figure out how to help her family pay rent every month. She mentioned that she has no energy to try in school or that she even cares about doing her homework when her home life is so stressful. Anisha has incredible strength that I am drawing on to help her succeed in school so that she can reach her full potential in both her personal and professional life.”