The student news site of Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Lake Balboa, CA

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The student news site of Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Lake Balboa, CA

The Pearl Post

The student news site of Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Lake Balboa, CA

The Pearl Post

‘I am not alone in navigating my life after high school’

Senior Alan Ruiz developed friendships and prepared for college applications during a Hispanic Scholarship Fund summer workshop.

Seated at my assigned table in an elaborate ballroom, I found it difficult to believe that my educational, empowering Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) experience was coming to an end. 

Four days earlier, on July 19, I stepped onto the University of Southern California’s campus for the first time to attend t

he five-day-long in-person component of the YLI program hosted by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, a national organization dedicated to providing Latino students with the knowledge and resources to complete higher education. 

Prior to the in-person component, I attended Zoom lectures on May 6 and 7 that included interactive workshops about the best tips for writing college essays and acquiring financial aid. Virtually, I met with my “Familia” (family), which was the group of teens whom I engaged in post-workshop reflections with. 

At the end of two back-to-back grueling days on Zoom, I felt so much more in control of my college application process because of my enhanced understanding of the steps I need to take. As a senior in high school, the guidance from the virtual component successfully calmed my nerves about college applications. It also successfully sparked my excitement to meet the other YLI participants in-person. 

To my delight, the volunteers for the in-person YLI component welcomed me with open arms and took a genuine interest in my concerns and goals. I was pleasantly surprised by how willing my fellow participants were to network and develop friendships despite never meeting each other before.

Kicking off our workshops the next day was the session “Tools for Career Success,” during which I prepared and shared a sample elevator pitch for future job interviews. Other activities included a walking tour of the campus, a USC landmark scavenger hunt and a question and answer panel with USC employees. 

In between workshops, my Familia and I would stop at a cafeteria for food, browse through USC merchandise at campus shops or sit in a circle and play a game called “Concentration” that we just couldn’t get enough of. 

Through scheduled networking time, much emphasis was placed on interacting with our fellow participants. We chatted about postsecondary goals and college majors that interest us. I am grateful for the kindness shown to me by volunteers from the A-team, high school graduates from the Class of 2023 who befriended me and jumped at the opportunity to share advice about writing college essays and choosing my major. 

I also had the privilege of developing very close friendships with the four students in my familia and our mentor. We stuck together through every activity and workshop. By the end of the last day, I felt like I was saying goodbye to my brothers. I am so grateful to the program for bringing us together and helping me realize that I am not alone in navigating my life after high school.

Next year, I would love to volunteer for the YLI program as an A-team member.  To all Latino students who have lofty goals, I emphatically recommend the YLI experience not just because of the guidance offered for postsecondary life but also because of the meaningful friendships participants will form.

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About the Contributor
Alan Ruiz, Print Editor-in-Chief
Alan Ruiz, a senior, is so excited to work on The Pearl Post this year as the Print Editor-in-Chief. In his third year on the DPMHS Student Media staff, Ruiz is looking forward to refining the writing, editing and photography skills that will help him pursue a career in journalism. Outside of school, Ruiz participates in the Student Advisory Council for LAUSD Board District 3, contributes to the Los Angeles Zoo Teen Council for Conservation and manages his sports news YouTube channel called All Things Dodgers. He also enjoys organizing and volunteering at school events, playing baseball and spending quality time with family and friends.
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