Naomi Valdez

Ninety-two Project GRAD Los Angeles Scholars from the San Fernando High School (SFHS) graduating class of 2015 have beaten the odds not only by graduating from high school, but also enrolling in college and earning a scholarship.

They were all recognized at an event on May 28 at the Skirball Cultural Center amid 300 invited guests, dignitaries, and supporters. The event celebrated the 92 Scholars who successfully completed Project GRAD’s rigorous college readiness program and earned a college scholarship.

This year marks the 13th class of Project GRAD Scholars to graduate from San Fernando High School and go onto competitive colleges within the nation. The class of 2015 Project GRAD Scholars is one of the most celebrated classes academically with Scholars attending Harvard University, UC Berkeley, and UCLA. Of the 92 Scholars, 82 will go on to four-year universities and 10 will go on to two-year colleges.

Of the 92 Scholars, 14 percent will attend private or out of state schools, 28 percent will attend University of California schools, 47 percent will attend California State University schools, and 11 percent will attend community colleges. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 40 percent of all California jobs will require a bachelor’s degree by year 2025.

Currently, there are 400 Project GRAD Scholars enrolled in colleges and universities around California and the nation, and nearly 500 who have graduated from college. Nearly all of the Scholars are Latino and many of them have overcome incredible challenges to earn a spot in college through hard work, dedication, and academic excellence.

With the aid of Project GRAD’s college readiness program and its scholarship, approximately 90 percent of these students will be the first in their families to go to college. This compares to data reported by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. In the LAUSD, where 71 percent of students are Latino, only 39 percent of Latino high school students graduate and only 20 percent of Latino students complete California’s A-G college prep requirements.

“I am thrilled that so many students from San Fernando High School will go off to college armed with the tools they need to succeed,” commented Ford Roosevelt, Project GRAD Los Angeles President and CEO. “The impact of these students returning from college to their communities and families will be nothing short of profound.”

Project GRAD Los Angeles works to increase the number of first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds who graduate from college. Since 1999, Project GRAD Los Angeles has been on the front lines of college completion helping students and families navigate the path to and through college.

Project GRAD Los Angeles seeks to address this education disparity by providing: early and frequent college awareness information to students and parents; a rigorous college preparedness curriculum for Project GRAD Scholars in high school; targeted retention supports for current College Scholars enrolled in southern California institutions; and a college scholarship.