By Pablo Jaime Sáinz
Karla Garcia graduated from Otay Ranch High School, in Chula Vista, this month, and this fall will be attending the University of California at Berkeley, where she plans to major in Political Science.
It was her experience during an internship at Chula Vista’s Deputy Mayor Rudy Ramirez’s office that made her decide to go into politics.
“I want to be a senator,” said the 18 year old. “I want to go to law school.”
Karla’s dreams and goals were supported and encouraged throughout the four years she was enrolled in the after-school program at Barrio Logan College Institute, a non-profit organization that works hard to prepare for and promote higher education among Latino students in San Diego.
Every Wednesday afternoon, Karla would go all the way from Otay Ranch to Barrio Logan to attend the program, from freshman year to her senior year of high school.
This year, there are 188 students enrolled. Of those, 11 are graduating seniors who have earned more than 55 acceptances to colleges and universities across the nation. That’s an average of more five acceptances per student.
BLCI had an event in late May to recognize all students in the program, and to thank all program sponsors at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.
The funds for the BLCI programs come 60 percent from individuals, 30 percent from foundations, and 10 percent from corporations.
“BLCI receives no public funds, that is why it is so important to encourage individuals to donate to help support our programs and our students’ goals,” Barrio Logan College Institute Executive Director José Cruz.
One of those students was Alva Monsalvo, who graduated from the program in 2006, and went on to graduate from UCSD in 2010. She’s starting law school in the fall.
“Barrio Logan College Institute helped me achieve my dreams of attending law school,” Monsalvo said. “From tutoring to field trips, it was a great experience.”
Monsalvo said she feels proud that BLCI is helping get more bachelor’s degrees to Barrio Logan, an area that, she said, has few college graduates.
“It encourages students to dream big, and helps them achieve the goal of higher education,” she said.
Hilda Castañeda is a parent who has two daughters enrolled in BLCI. Her family lives in City Heights. Her daughters have been part of BLCI for three years.
“I like that my daughters get a lot of help with school, and I get to learn the requirements they need to complete to get into college in the future,” said Castañeda, who was volunteering during the event at the Natural History Museum. “ I hope more children get the opportunity to attend programs like this one.”
Executive Director Jose Cruz also wants to encourage more parents to send their children to BLCI.
“We make sure our families know what’s going in their children’s schools. We make sure our students’ schools become stronger,” he said. “We’re a family. That’s a strong concept in our community. We provide an academic family for students.”
To learn more about the Barrio Logan College Institute, visit blci.org.