The focus for the First Gen Program at Las Lomas, officially started in February of 2018 by Anne Fuller, Amy McNamara, and Carol Thompson, was to help both students who have parents that did not graduate from a four-year college and students who come from low-income households. Thompson, a college advisor who works closely with Anne Fuller in the College and Career Center, alongside Elaine Chan, said, “It became evident that some students had more questions and just needed more help.” While all the schools in the Acalanes District have the program, Las Lomas has the largest percentage of First Gen and low-income students. Thompson says the first generation or marginalized students are helped when planning, “Out a four-year path to college, looking at possible majors, finances, extracurricular activities, scholarships, etc.”
The program helps students to identify an affordable career and college path. Because the district is diverse, “The goal was established to meet the needs of all students.” Currently, the program is busy with Seniors and their college applications for the fall, though any First Gen student can drop into the College and Career Center to make an appointment or make one through the Las Lomas website.
One veteran of the program, which has had 200 students, was Tim Lee, who graduated in the summer of 2019 and is now a freshman at UC Riverside. Lee said he “was helped with filling out [his] UC and CSU applications step by step and…received advice from [Chan, Thompson, and Fuller] on how to navigate in my high school journey to prepare for getting into colleges.” He was recommended scholarships, and the advisors helped revise the essays he wrote for the applications. Graduating alongside Lee, Dorsa Heydar-Bakhtiari currently attends UC Santa Cruz. Ms. Fuller told her about the program at the beginning of her junior year and Heydar-Baktiari received a lot of assistance with her college applications and essays. She said the advisors and Fuller are “dedicated to helping the students,” and motivated her during her senior year, and that the program helped her receive scholarships. Heydar-Bakhtiari learned how to search for job and volunteering opportunities to appeal to colleges, and as an immigrant, she said she “needed guidance to navigate the complex college process and reach [her] goal.”
Thompson said, “Who wouldn’t want all students, regardless of background, to have equal opportunity to be fully prepared to succeed in life beyond high school?”