Story and photos by Joseph Herrera/Staff writer/@josephherrera91

Long Beach community members and elected officials celebrated eight years of the Long Beach College Promise at the Hotel Maya on Thursday, Sept. 22.

As hot coffee and snacks were served, Mayor Robert Garcia opened the celebration praising the accomplished promises that the program has offered.

Launched in 2008, the Long Beach Promise are committed to helping all Long Beach Unified Districts students to achieve a college credential or degree. 4th and 5th grade Elementary students are given opportunity to take college tours and middle school students and their parents sign a College Promise pledge. The student pledge encourages students to prepare for College and Careers by “behaving like a Scholar”. In return, the College promise ensures financial aid assistance including making the first semester tuition free at Long Beach City College.

The event was a success despite the one year anniversary of contract worker Jose Barragan, who suffered major head trauma while hanging a banner for the event and later died as a result from the injuries.

The podium was turned to Lou Anne Bynum, Executive Vice President of College advancement and Economic Development for Long Beach City College, who gave thanks to the Promise and discussed the opportunities that the Global Logistics Academy at Cabrillo High School which allowed college freshman to pursue a career at the Port of Long Beach.

Jane Conoley president of CSULB spoke at the event giving details of the success that Cal State had witnessed: “Since the inception of long beach college promise, there has a 71 percent increase in enrollment of long beach unified students into California State University Long Beach. Not only are we admitting students, but we are graduating more students than ever.”

With success stories on every spectrum, LBCC Alumna Dominique Vera is one of them. Now the Marketing and Events Specialist at Tech relation Company, Vera reflected on her upbringing and how the promise had a large impact.” Growing up life was not easy for us. I saw little of my mother who worked constantly to support my two sisters and me. As a young girl it was hard, I was afraid to walk in my own neighborhood or even play outside, but i can always rely on my education. As a promise student i was identified as gifted.” said Vera. “College was my way out. It was an opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”

Long Beach City College President Eloy Oakley also was able to speak at the event: “It is a great pleasure to be to celebrate this. I also want to take the opportunity to say there has been a lot of talk of college promise programs throughout California, well there are now 23 College promise programs in California.”

In April, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an L.A College Promise to start in fall 2017, covering first year tuition for L.A. Unified Graduates. The Promise reached at a National level, when President Obama proposed that if qualified, the first two years at a community college will be tuition free.