In a special ceremony, surrounded by family and friends, a group of six well deserving Kranz Intermediate School seventh graders started their six year journey toward their goal of admission to a four year university as the 2017 inductees into the Partnership Scholars Program (PSP).
This is the 17th year Kranz Intermediate, one of 12 schools in the Mountain View School District, has partnered with PSP, an all-volunteer, nonprofit program whose mission is promote college access by providing six years of educational and cultural experiences for academically motivated but economically disadvantaged students. Students are partnered with mentors and given a monetary stipend to be used over the six years on educational enrichment such as computers, museum trips, books, concerts, plays, college campus visitations, sporting events, out of state trips and other activities to help them become well rounded individuals with rich cultural experiences.
The six new inductees were selected from over 100 applicants based on criteria including their grade point average, motivation for higher education, supportive home environment and financial need. Kranz staff had a very difficult time selecting the scholars from the many worthy candidates.
“Our PSP scholars this year are very deserving and it was really hard to narrow the selection down to six students from the large group of applicants,” said Arlene Le Gaspe, Kranz teacher and PSP coordinator. “PSP has provided such tremendous opportunities for our students over the years and I know this year’s group will benefit greatly as well.”
PSP was founded 20 years ago by Dr. Glenn Langer, a retired UCLA medical professor and cardiovascular research lab director who began a personal campaign to prepare seventh graders from low income neighborhoods for college. He wanted to payback the kindness that was shown to him by strangers who gave him a college scholarship and helped his dream of becoming a doctor become a reality.
According to Lisa Ruben, PSP’s Executive Director, participation in the program will allow the new inductees to not only figure out where they want to go but who they want to be.
“This class of motivated PSP scholars have a wide variety of goals and interests and we are very happy to be able to help them reach their goals,” said Ruben. “We appreciate the strong support of the El Monte community and thank the Kranz staff, especially Mrs. Le Gaspe and Mr. Grycel for their dedication to the program.”
Providing an overview of their first year in PSP, a group of Kranz 8th graders talked about the many educationally enriching and fun excursions they went on during their first year in the program. They happily shared how they made trips for the first time to places like Olvera Street, the theater, various museums, several colleges and universities, Dodger Stadium, and San Francisco. They also enjoyed eating in culturally diverse restaurants and tasting a variety of new foods.
“I got to go to my first live sporting event at Dodger Stadium,” said Ervin Cajero. “It was really fun and we even got to eat unlimited Dodger Dogs.”
“I liked our road trip up north when we got to see Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,” said Jenny Saucedo. “We also got to tour San Francisco and took a boat ride around the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. That was my favorite thing.”
Upcoming for the 8th grade scholars is a PSP trip to Washington, DC, New York and Pennsylvania in the spring.
Mountain View School District Board of Education President, Adam Carranza encouraged the students to make the most of their time as PSP scholars and shared that he looks forward to hearing about their journey.
“I’ve talked with Kranz alumni who were PSP scholars and they all speak very highly of the program and attribute their success to it,” said Carranza. “It is a special program and will stay with you for the rest of your life. On behalf of the Board of Education, we greatly appreciate the program and the mentors who help guide the students on their journey.”
This year’s inductees were presented with a certificate and gift from PSP and wished all the best by Ms. Ruben, Maria Hernandez, PSP Coordinator, and key members of the program, including Dr. Ferenzi and his wife Mickie, and several mentors in attendance.
Seventh grade inductee, Susan Castillo, is eager to start her journey in PSP and looks forward to the many opportunities it will bring her.
“I’m very excited to be part of this amazing program,” she said. “My future plans are to attend a four-year university, hopefully Vanderbilt, and study environmental science.”
Seventh grader, Isael Sanchez’s future plans are to attend USC and study electrical engineering. He is grateful for the being selected as a PSP scholar and knows it will open many doors and help him achieve his goal. Fellow PSP inductee, Leslie Najera hopes to attend Stanford or UC Berkeley and obtain a Doctorate in aerospace engineering.
“Congratulations to our PSP scholars and their parents,” said Lillian Maldonado French, Superintendent. “Through this program our students are given opportunities that other kids take for granted. It truly opens doors and pathways for our students and supports their dream of attending college.”
Le Gaspe has coordinated Kranz’s PSP program for 17 years and continues to be thrilled that 120 El Monte students and families have been positively impacted by it.
“We are extremely grateful to PSP for this incredible program which continues to benefit our students and the community,” said Le Gaspe. “Being a partnership scholar brings them extraordinary opportunities that they would not otherwise have and thanks to PSP our students can go on to college and succeed.”
During its 20 years, PSP has inducted over 650 students in the program and 94% of the high school graduates are in four-year colleges or graduated from college with an average of over $90,000 in scholarship aid. A few of the universities PSP scholars, many who are Kranz alumni, are attending include Harvard, Duke, UCLA, USC, UC Berkeley, BYU, Stanford, Wellesley, Brown, Occidental, Pepperdine, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, Columbia, Georgetown, Pitzer College, UC San Diego and Loyola Marymount.