HANFORD — An organization aimed at bridging the gap between underserved students and college is proud to announce their class of graduating seniors, who will all be moving on to higher education.
The mission of the Bridge2College is to prepare students for college by providing college tours, guest speakers, leadership workshops, advising and scholarships for underserved — oftentimes low income or first generation — but high-achieving students and to promote a post- secondary education.
Johnny Baltierra, president of Bridge2College, has been a counselor at Armona Union Elementary School District for the past five years.
“There are amazing students in the area,” Baltierra said of Armona. Most of the students from that community end up going to high school in Hanford or Lemoore.
Baltierra said all the students need is some advice and guidance when it comes to striving for higher education and achieving success, which is why Bridge2College was created in 2018.
He said the Bridge2College students are empowered through knowledge of college access and building bridges to institutions of higher education by learning about acceptance requirements and getting help with SATs, ACTs, writing letters, and college and financial applications.
Additionally, college tours around the state and elsewhere are a huge part of the program.
Last month during spring break, Baltierra said all 17 Bridge2College students took a trip to the East Coast to visit Columbia University, New York University and Harvard.
While there, they toured the campuses, and talked with directors and students. They also did some fun stuff, like visit the Statue of Liberty and watch Aladdin on Broadway.
Eight of the students in the program are graduating seniors this year and Baltierra was proud and excited to announce that they will all be going to college after they graduate.
Bridge2College is awarding these seniors — Evelyn Barajas, Clarisa Gomez, Cristina Carerra, Marcos Tafolla, Arianna Martinez, Markus Higuera, Mario Perez and Myla Garcia — with $1,000 scholarships each.
The students will be going to colleges like California State University, Fresno, Sacramento State, West Hills College, College of the Sequoias, Fresno City College and California State University, Northridge.
The scholarships will be awarded Friday during a dinner to honor and recognize the students at the Kings Cultural Center in Armona.
Along with fundraisers, Bridge2College gets funding help from corporations and sponsors like Educational Employees Credit Union and other local sponsors.
Bridge2College Class of 2019:
Evelyn Barajas: Lemoore Middle College High School. College: Sacramento State. Major: Bio Medicine.
Clarisa Gomez: Sierra Pacific High School. College: Fresno State. Major: Chicano Latino Studies.
Marcos Tafolla: Sierra Pacific High School. College: West Hills College. Major: Criminology.
Mario Perez: Crossroads Charter Academy. College: Sacramento State. Major: Bio Medicine.
Arianna Martinez: Lemoore Middle College High School. College: Fresno State. Major: Psychology.
Cristina Carerra: Hanford East High School. College: California State University, Northridge. Major: Education.
Markus Higuera: Crossroads Charter Academy. College: College of Sequoias. Major: Liberal Arts.
Myla Garcia: Kerman High School. College: Fresno City College. Major: Nursing.