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Valuing Teachers As Mentors: An Alumna’s Advice for Current Students (Part 2)

Just recently we sat down with Aspire Alumna, Jocelyn Cachux, East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy ‘11 and UC – Santa Barbara ‘15, to explore pivotal moments in her high school experience that influenced who she is and what she’s become.  Here’s what we learned:

Tell me about yourself when you were an Aspire student.  What was helpful to you in your development?

Since I was an academically focused student, I valued being able take college courses as part of our course requirements. This experience helped level-set some expectations for what academia would be like in college.

It was also important and impactful to have teachers who were thoughtful about introducing culturally relevant material or who developed hands-on experiences that we could take beyond the classroom. My teachers pushed us to be college ready – every activity, every reading was delivered with that thought in mind. It was always a challenge, and yet attainable.

I valued having teachers who looked like me and had shared cultural experiences to my own upbringing. They were the individuals whom I idolized as mentors and who pushed me to reach my fullest potential. Their guidance and experiences helped shape my pathway through higher education.

Did you always know what you wanted to do after high school? How did you go about exploring and researching postsecondary opportunities or colleges?

I will say that in the beginning I was interested in becoming a nurse.  My dad was diagnosed with a kidney disease, and I saw the support he received so I wanted to give back.  I knew that I wanted to go to a University of California school. I decided that I had a love for science and we did some exhibitions my junior year of high school which were opportunities to focus on unique topics.  I was exposed to sustainability. I found it really interesting that there wasn’t really a place for people of color to have a voice in sustainability, and I wanted to change that.

From the moment that I entered the University of California – Santa Barbara, I picked Environmental Studies as major, and I graduated with that major.  I always tell people, “don’t pick a major that will make you money, pick one that will bring you joy.”