January Newsletter
Enjoying our annual holiday party: Scholars Sharon & Andrea;
Scholars Larry, Jose & Edgar; Scholars Yesinia & Simge
Happy New Year from MVLA Scholars!

It was wonderful to see over 70 College Scholars and Mentors at our annual holiday party. Check out the photos on our facebook page.

MVLA Scholars is very proud to have been selected for the 2017 Los Altos-Los Altos Hills Community Volunteer Service Award. Thank you to our 170 volunteers for making it possible! Read more in the Town Crier Article.

Not only do our wonderful volunteers mentor our college Scholars, but they also provide incredibly valuable mentoring for AVID high school students in their junior and senior year to help with college applications, financial aid & scholarship applications, college selection, and financial literacy training. As MVLA Scholar alum Edgar Ramirez testifies in his story below, the individual support provided by the AVID program is one of the most important reasons for students’ future college success.

Here are the number of our mentors and AVID students who are working together this year.

  • 56 – LAHS AVID Students being mentored by volunteers from MVLA Scholars
  • 68 – MVHS AVID Students being mentored by volunteers from MVLA Scholars
  • 70 – Mentors from MVLA Scholars volunteering with LAHS and MVHS AVID classes
Thank you so much for your ongoing support.

Dee Gibson and Janet Tornow
Enjoying our annual holiday party: Mentor Steve & Scholar Skyler;
Mentor Valerie & Scholar Maria; Scholar Mateo and Mentor Mike

Edgar Ramirez, MVLA Scholar, UC Santa Cruz 2015, Human Biology

I knew that I was capable of becoming a first-generation college student, but the path towards earning a degree seemed convoluted and intimidating. I can say with confidence that one of the best decisions I made at age sixteen was enrolling in the LAHS AVID program. Joanne Miyahara was more than my AVID teacher—she was a mentor, an inspiration, and a friend. She instilled in me a growth mindset and seeded the confidence that transformed me into the scholar I am today. My senior year I was delighted to have been accepted into the school of architecture at both USC and the University of Oregon. Unfortunately, the euphoria was short lived when financial circumstances brought me back to reality. Honestly, it was the inability to matriculate into a four-year institution that cultivated my path towards medicine.

At Foothill College I chose to pursue a direction that would incorporate the biological sciences as I lost interest in architecture. I met very inspiring students at Foothill College who eventually became very good friends. In fact, it was through them that I had the opportunity and privilege to travel to Honduras through Global Medical Brigades, and provide medical services to rural communities lacking proper healthcare, and that made me realize I wanted to change the lives of those in need, utilizing medicine as a vehicle.

Three years after completing all the required science coursework, I transferred to UC Santa Cruz. During the two years I was a student, I was involved in Global Medical Brigades, worked part-time as an AVID tutor with the local middle school, and was a member of a professional pre-med fraternity where I learned the importance of growing a personal network. On June 11th, 2015 I graduated with a bachelor’s of science in human biology. I had realized my dream of becoming the first in my family to obtain a college education.

After graduating, I knew that despite everything I had accomplished, I was still not a competitive medical school applicant. Therefore, I chose to re-enroll at Foothill College to take additional science courses while searching for an entry-level research job. Thanks to my college networks, I was offered a position at a startup biotech company that focuses on optimizing a real-time, single-molecule, electronic, DNA sequencing platform. Throughout the nineteen months I worked there, I shadowed various scientists and engineers from all branches of science that drove my scientific curiosity into high gear. The experience influenced my decision to pursue a research-based graduate program.

I chose to enroll at Loyola University Chicago in their neuroscience graduate program, where I am conducting Parkinson’s disease research. I am now at a career crossroads. Whether I choose to take the path towards medicine or biomedical research, I am excited about what lies ahead and know that both paths will offer the satisfaction of contributing to science that will ultimately impact people in a positive way. All of this has been possible thanks to the guidance and support of my family, my educational mentors, and MVLA Scholars—who after seven years since high school—has continued being an integral part of my career trajectory and has allowed me to share my story.