Erick always took every opportunity offered to him. When he was a child growing up in Yakima, his family told him he was going to be someone important. They encouraged him to continue his education, and he listened.
“My parents emigrated from Mexico at a very young age and worked in the fields before opening a home daycare center. Although they finished high school, they never went to college, and they wanted me to do more than what they could,” Erick says.
“My mother really encouraged me since the beginning. She would always push me and say, ‘If you want to succeed, you need to go to college.’”
Erick was a good student and always kept on track with his assignments. By the time he was a freshman at Eisenhower High School, he knew he wanted to go to college, but he wasn’t sure how he was going to pay for it. Then he learned about College Success Foundation from College Prep Advisor (CPA) Yolanda Guzman.
“She was encouraging my older cousin, who was a junior, to apply for CSF’s Achievers program for high school juniors and seniors. I was with him at the time, so Yolanda thought I was a junior, too. When she found out I was a freshman, she told me to come back in a couple of years—so I did,” Erick says.
After joining the program, Erick took advantage of after-school help with SAT prep and applying for FAFSA. He had monthly meetings with Yolanda where they would talk about what scholarships were available and which ones would cover the most expenses. He also had the opportunity to participate in the Achievers College Experience, where he learned how to navigate the college admissions process and got a feel of what different universities are like through campus tours.
“They gave us tips on how to improve our test scores and motivated us to continue our education,” Erick says. “It was a great experience. I met a lot of people and learned a lot of valuable skills. Yolanda said that students in this program will be prepared to go to college and be ahead of the game, and she was right.”
After Erick expressed interest in attending Heritage University near Yakima, Yolanda helped him get connected with their advisors. They helped him apply for financial aid and write a personal statement for a full scholarship, which he learned he had received at a school assembly.
“The whole school was there at the moment I got the check,” Erick says. “When the assembly was done, a bunch of people came up to me and said they wanted to be like me. I told them to be sure to take the opportunities that come their way.”
Since the scholarship to Heritage only covered tuition, Erick had to look for another way to cover room and board. Yolanda encouraged him to apply for CSF’s Leadership 1000 Scholarship, so he did—and he got it.
Erick graduated this spring with a diploma from Eisenhower High School and an Associates of Arts degree through Running Start. He is now in his first semester at Heritage University, where he is pursuing a major in business administration with a focus in entrepreneurship.
“I feel like it’s a place I can call home,” Erick says. “It’s a faster pace than high school, but since it’s being paid for, I feel like I have to get with it.”
When asked what inspires him, Erick emphatically says it’s the people that surround him. “If they wouldn’t have told me about these opportunities, I wouldn’t have known about them,” he says. “Without Yolanda and CSF, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Erik’s story is one of many stories of perseverance, triumph and determination. Our program is successful thanks to the support of individuals like you. Please help ensure more students like Erick have this opportunity to succeed by giving to CSF today.