Stanford History Professor Al Camarillo Champions Educational Opportunity at Sampling for Success 2014
Speaking at SASS's spring event, Sampling for Success 2014, Stanford History Professor Al Camarillo recounted stories of several Latino youths whose lives were transformed because they seized opportunities presented to them by committed individuals and by organizations like Sequoia Adult School Scholars.
Camarillo began by relaying some disturbing facts about the state of education among Latinos in the US today, noting, for example, that 41 percent of Latinos age 20 and older don't have a high school diploma (compared to 14 percent of whites) and that only one in ten Latinos who drop out of high school get their GED (compared to one in three whites).
While Camarillo spoke of the need for policy change to address the achievement gap, he said that real transformation only happens when lives are changed one student at a time. Camarillo used himself as an example of how a small non-profit did just that.
When Camarillo, the son of a retired cement worker, was accepted at UCLA, his family couldn't afford to pay for his college. But a $300 scholarship from the Mexican American Political Association, a non-profit that still exists today, came just in time. "It was because of that organization that the world changed for me," Camarillo said. "When you give one person that kind of opportunity, you're not only changing that person's life but also the trajectory of their children and their children's children. And when you start putting those stories together, you start changing communities and localities and finally whole nations."
This year's spring event, held at the home of SASS Board member Barb Sanner, focused on introducing more community members to SASS. Close to a dozen SASS recipients were on hand to chat with guests about their goals and why they want to attend college.