Story by Denise Jones/Co-Editor in chief/@DeniseJonesLBCC
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Long Beach Promise participants, LBCC President Eloy Oakley and other education leaders gathered at the White House on Thursday, March, 17, to participate in a Reach Higher event.
As part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Beating the Odds focus, Reach Higher targets under-privileged students in under-served communities with opportunities for higher education and careers. The day-long event, to highlight the Long Beach Promise and other successful school initiatives, was hosted in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex.
LBCC alumnus Keyon Anderson, representing the Long Beach Promise, spoke of growing up with survival as the main goal in his home, not education. Diagnosed as dyslexic, Anderson said, “I never thought college was an option.”
Through his attendance at Cabrillo High School, Anderson received the needed support, guidance and confidence of feeling “disabled” to “abled” and enrolled in an auto mechanics class at LBCC, which led to an internship at Boeing. “The Long Beach Promise showed me that even I could go to college,” Anderson said.
Long Beach Promise delegates joined speakers from Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in the Bronx, N.Y., and Niswonger Foundation of Eastern Tennessee in a workshop discussion of what works and why.
During the panel discussion, Dominique Vera discussed her experience with the Promise. Vera and her two sisters were raised by her single-parent mom and emigrated from Ecuador. After graduating from Long Beach Poly High School and accepted at her “dream school,” the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Vera found herself in a difficult position. “I was so excited to be there. This was my dream school,” Vera said emotionally, “But I didn’t have the finances to stay.”
Once back at home, Vera enrolled at LBCC and participated in the Beach Pathways, whose guidance and support helped to continue her education at Cal State Long Beach. The opportunity to work abroad in France offered her global business experience.
The small setting allowed participants from across all sectors of education and youth development asked questions on student follow-up and long-range tracking.
Oakley said, “Reducing some of the burden of state and federal reporting to allowing resources to be utilized for other activities” is what LBCC needs to do to increase the bandwidth for that tracking. He further went to add that the L.B. Promise is not funded by any agency or person.
Anderson is finishing his master’s degree in social work and attending USC in August to pursue a doctorate in education. “I’m claiming that,” Anderson said of his Twitter handle @dr_Keyon.
Vera works for recruitment and placement firm in Los Angeles as a marketing and events specialist. She credits her involvement in the Promise for allowing her to pursue her passion for business. “The L.B. Promise was the light at the end of the tunnel,” Vera said.