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L.A. College Promise Program holds first graduation

LOS ANGELES—The first-ever graduating class of students who enrolled in the Los Angeles Community College District’s L.A. College Promise Program were honored last week in a special ceremony at Cal State Los Angeles to mark the occasion.

More than 150 students, with about 500 family members, friends and other invited guests, heard from featuring Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, LACCD Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, Cal State L.A. President William Covino and many other civic and educational leaders who gathered 

Student testimonial was provided by Llisela Mateo, from Los Angeles Harbor College. She and the other College Promise students at the ceremony officially graduated at their colleges’ commencement ceremonies June 4.

Garcetti, who gave the keynote address, said the event filled him “with joy, with pride, and above all, with hope.”

He reminded the students that the L.A. College Promise program, which first began with them in 2017, has now helped put them into a position where they can achieve anything they want to pursue.

 “Be fearless, be humble, be a good listener and lead with love,” Garcetti said. “We need your grit. We need your hope.” 

The event marked a significant milestone for the L.A. College Promise Program the Los Angeles Community College District launched more than two years ago with support from Garcetti, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the city’s philanthropic community, other civic leaders and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The program is creating a college-going culture that seeks to help underserved and economically challenged families and students who previously felt a college education was unobtainable. The program provides free tuition, priority registration and other academic counseling services to all first-time, full-time, first-year students entering any of the district’s nine colleges throughout Los Angeles County.

“The L.A. College Promise Program is working exactly as it was envisioned,” LACCD Chancellor Rodriguez said. “Students are enrolling in record numbers from high school and they are completing or transferring to four-year universities in two years.”

Now in its second year, the program includes about 10,000 students, both first- and second-year students. About 72 percent are Latino and more than 80 percent are considered low-income based on financial aid application information.

Since the program began, full-time enrollment of LAUSD graduates as first-time LACCD college students has increased by 54 percent. Next week, about 500 students will be part of the first-ever cohort to officially graduate on June 4, with most transferring to a four-year college or university of their choice.

Program participants are also eligible for special internship opportunities with the Mayor’s Office and can apply for sponsored overseas travel opportunities through the Mayor’s Young Ambassador program.

Earlier this year, Garcetti announced a partnership with the Annenberg Foundation and the Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges that will provide free laptops to all Promise students entering the program beginning in the fall.

Wave Staff Report