A few months ago, Autumn Seebold had just graduated from Garey High School in Pomona. She knew she wanted to go to college, but was unsure of just about everything concerning it.
"I was nervous about going to college," Autumn recalls. "I didn't know what to expect, didn't know if I could handle the workload, and didn't know where the resources to go to college would come from."
Soon afterwards she discovered Mt. SAC's Bridge Program, a six-week program designed to new high school grads make a seamless transition into college life. Students take refresher courses in cohort groups that provide the support, encouragement, and motivation necessary to succeed.
"Everyone in the Bridge Program was really open and helped to engage us with college life," she says. "The professors were down to earth, and we got to know everyone in the program. It helped me to not feel alone anymore."
Once Autumn took advantage of the opportunities available, the doors to higher education were opened to her. She learned firsthand what college life was like, wich support programs were available, and where to find the resources she needed to attend college, including financial aid. "Bridge gave me the confidence to move forward and succeed," she said.
Today, Autumn is enrolled in her first semester at Mt. SAC. She's currently taking general education courses, but is leaning toward a major in the medical field. She has gone from being uncertain about the future to being optimistic and confident in her abilities. What a difference a few weeks can make! And she owes it all to the Bridge Program.
"Bridge gave me the confidence to move forward and succeed," Autumn says. "Plus the experiences and friendships you make are lasting. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat."
As a 2013 Mt. SAC graduate, Yomeri Castuera looks forward to continuing her education at UC Irvine and fulfilling her dream to become a physician. But her dreams weren't always so secure, until she experienced Mt. SAC.
"I love Mt. SAC," she says. "It's where I laid the foundation for my education and success. My experience there gave me the confidence, study skills, and knowledge to do well here at UCI."
In high school, academics were not exactly at the top of her list. "It was only once I came to Mt. SAC that I started to take school and studying seriously," she says.
Yomeri took advantage of the many opportunities Mt. SAC offers. She got involved in student government and eventually joined the Honors Program--building confidence in her abilities and leadership skills along the way.
But it wasn't easy. There were plenty of long hours and times she wanted to give up.
"The support I received from my professors and advisors encouraged me to continue," she says. They are all here to help students."
A neurobiology major, Yomeri plans to become a physician, because she wants to give back to the community--much like she was helped during her days as a Mt. SAC student.
"If it wasn't for Mt. SAC, I don't think I would be where I am today," she says.
As the medical director for Group Health Medical Centers, Dr. Marc Mora heads a team of 600 physicians who care for more than 400,000 people in the Seattle, WA, area. But coming out of high school, he wasn't seriously thinking about going to college--much less becoming a physician . . . until he came to Mt. SAC!
"Mt. SAC provided me with the opportunity to explore my options," he says. "My experience there taught me about the world, what's out there, and what I wanted to pursue. It helped me figure out what was important to me."
Coming from a family background where college wasn't significant, Marc worked part time as a cook in restaurants while attending Mt. SAC. It took him four years to complete his program, but the experience allowed him to find himself and discover that he had a passion for science.
While he explore different fields and took a variety of different classes, Marc learned the importance of studying, how to focus, and what to focus on. He says Mt. SAC gave him the time and space to experiment with different content areas as well as the time to improve his own learning style and habits.
After graduating in 1984 with an associate degree in biology, Marc went on to earn a bachelor's at UC Irvine and his MD at UC San Francisco. Since then, he has enjoyed a distinguished medical career, having garnered accolades as the recipient of Group Health Permanente's 2011 Jerome Beekman Leadership Award. He has also published clinical and policy articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Yet after 23 years as a physician, Dr. Marc Mora still looks back with fondness on his days at Mt. SAC: "As I look back on the great opportunities that I have had and been able to take advantage of, I believe that many of them began because of my time at Mt. SAC."
Before you know it, Gina Guerrero will graduate in December from UC-Riverside with a bachelor's in English Literature. Even though she transferred from Mt. SAC, she never lost her connection with the school.
"I'm still connected to people at Mt. SAC," says Gina, a 40-year-old mother of six who has her sights focused on teaching high school. "It's just so amazing after all this time."
Before Gina first enrolled at Mt. SAC, she was homeless and in an abusive relationship. But she saw a light at the end of tunnel and began taking a few classes. "Going to college changes your life drastically, and going to Mt. SAC completely changed my life," she says.
Gina says her success wouldn't be possible without the help she got from such student support services as the Re-Entry Center, CalWORKs, and Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS). With determination and a little help, she made it through the first half of her college experience.
Soon Gina will embark on her career path, with some promising prospects in the works. But she'll never forget her Mt. SAC connections. "They're just like family to me," she says.
For someone who didn't plan on going to college, Elisa Marin has certainly blossomed at Mt. SAC. She currently represents students on the Board of Trustees and believes that her college experience has been life-changing--a testament to her personal and academic success.
"It's actually been transformational," Elisa says. "My experience here and the people I've met here have given me the confidence and encouragement to believe in myself when no one else did."
Elisa's high school experience was less than stellar. She admits she often skipped classes, and grades were always a sore subject. She transferred to a continuation school and was told that she was not "college material." Yet after being inspired by a Mt. SAC High School Outreach representative presentation, she spoke to advisors and counselors at the college and then decided to give Mt. SAC a shot.
"Definitely give Mt. SAC a try and allow the people there to help you," she advises friends today. "Mt. SAC provides the support that a lot of students don't receive at home."
Elisa's path to success started at Mt. SAC's High School Adult Program, where she earned her high school diploma. Then she enrolled in college courses and got involved in the Associated Students, which "had a huge impact on me," she says. "That drove me to do better." She served as a senator in the student government, got involved in Students in Free Enterprise (a student business club), and later was elected as the student trustee on the college's governing board to represent students' interests.
At this juncture along the path, Elisa realized she had found a home at Mt. SAC. "In fact, I spend more time at Mt. SAC than I do at my own house."
Now Elisa carries a 3.0 GPA and will graduate in June. She plans to transfer to UC-San Diego as an international relations major next fall, but she will always remember the place and the people who helped her achieve her goals.
"The people who work here at Mt. SAC are all about helping students succeed. Mt. SAC will change your life."