By Leslie Marin
I was always determined to go to college, but I didn’t really know how I was going to get there. As a first generation student from a low-income family, I didn’t know how to apply or where I was going to get the money from. But I knew I wanted to be the first in my family to go to college. I wanted to set an example for my family and generations to come.
I had the grades to attend a four-year university, but I knew that my parents might not be able to afford to send me to college. I was frustrated as I thought to myself, “Why did I work so hard for four years and still have doors close?” I decided that I would take on a second job and work for two semesters in order to save up for college tuition.
But then I found out about the Santa Barbara City College Promise when the SBCC Foundation came to speak at my high school. They told us all about the Promise: that it covers two years of tuition and fees at community college; that it even funds books and supplies. That very same day, I was scheduled to interview for a second job I was planning to take to help save money for college. But once I heard about the SBCC Promise, I canceled my interview—because I was going to college!
At first, it was hard for me to believe that a bunch of strangers donated money to help students they didn’t even know. But realizing that people who don’t even know me believe in my education has really motivated me. I want to work hard and show them that the money they invested in my education would turn into something big.
Now I’m in my second year at SBCC as a sociology and criminology major. I’m president of the EOPS club (Extended Opportunities Programs and Services), and co-chair of I.D.E.A.S. club (Improving Dreams Equality Access & Success). Throwing myself into both academics and extracurriculars has changed my perspective on college and changed me as a person. I know I want to get an education to give back to the community and work with at-risk youth.
I’m proud to share my story as a speaker at the California Promise: Pathways to Student Success conference. I’m honored to have the opportunity to meet with state leaders looking to expand College Promise programs so more students like me can get an education. The financial support and the guidance of the SBCC Promise has helped me believe in my own potential. And it has given me the opportunity to be the first in my family to earn a college degree. The SBCC Promise has given me and my family hope for my future.