"Promoting Latino Student Success"

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2013-2014 CLFSA Scholarship Recipient

Sergio Ivan Soledad, Junior, Criminal Justice Major

Sergio Ivan SoledadEver since Sergio can remember, his parents have instilled in him the need for the best education possible. Although they lacked a formal education, they always told him that the best inheritance they could leave him - was an education- far better than money. While being admitted to the G.AT.E program during his early schooling, Sergio realized that he was what many would call “a diamond in the rough.”

Living in predominantly Latino and lower-income communities where drugs, gangs, and violence are prevalent, Sergio has been able to overcome his environment, with the help of his parents, and is now proud to say that he is the first, on both sides of the family, to be in the process of completing a higher education. Although life can be rough, he always remembers the first “big word” he learned in elementary school. It was “perseverance.” He also recalls one teacher in high school telling him, “Don’t let anyone box you in, and prove them wrong.” Although he did not know anyone who had gone to college, Sergio knew that life could get better. That is why as a first-generation college student he tries to do his best to not only access as many resources possible, but also to give back in any manner he can.

Sergio is currently working three jobs; two on campus and one off campus. And with all three, he feels he is able to give back. As a Titan Ambassador at Cal State Fullerton – he provides tours to prospective students. Many are first-generation students such as he, and therefore feels a connection with them. He also hopes that his Hermanos Unidos organization, of which he is co-chair, will choose to become tour guides or leaders in their own right.

Being a student assistant at the Chicano/a Resource Center on campus has been the first step toward the development who Sergio is now. Although he was very shy before becoming part of the CRC, he now feels that he have grown as a person and can excite prospective students to come to CSUF and hopefully help them lose the same fears he had when he first started college. Sergio now feels like he can make a difference. Through his off-campus job at the library, Sergio continues to provide a helping hand. He provides his community with presentations on college life as well as shares his personal journey. Basically, Sergio tries to show everyone that if they think they cannot make it, to think again - because he is a real example of one who has, and is someone who lives just a few doorsteps away.

Sergio’s dad once told him, “I had to fall in love with what I do (construction) because I had no other choice.” He also told him that now Sergio has all the opportunities to do what he truly loves. Sergio will never forget who he is. He is now in his third year as a criminal justice major. Sergio states: “I am building my life just like a wall is built, one block at a time. I hope to attend law school once I graduate and one day will pursue a career in law in which I can help my family, while making my community a better place.”

CSUF is Nationally Ranked: 1st in Master's degrees awarded to Hispanics in Mathematics, 6th in Baccalaureate degrees to Hispanics, 6th in Baccalaureate degrees awarded to Minority Students, and 10th in the nation for the number of Hispanics faculty and administrators employed.