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The Post Bac: Social Justice Work and Professional Preparation | Priscila Garcia

April 10, 2014

Priscila Garcia PO '13 was born and raised in the Inland Empire and is currently the Post Baccalaureate Fellow for Educational Outreach

Briana Vargas and Timothy Valdez, from Sierra Vista High School in Baldwin Park, with Priscila

As the Post Baccalaureate for Educational Outreach at the Draper Center, my primary role is working alongside Sergio Marín to coordinate the Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS), K-12 Campus Programs, and TER (Draper Center’s training committee).  With PAYS, I consistently work with approximately 90 high school students, supporting their academic and professional achievement through high school and the college admissions process. K-12 Campus Programs, on the other hand, requires that I make quick, meaningful connections with K-12 students. In order to do so, I assist the committee in organizing campus visits, college workshops, and student panels that will appeal to the diversity of students and spark their interest in college. Finally, as part of the training committee, I help design and facilitate training sessions for the Draper Center staff.

Having said all that, I am acutely aware that those descriptions say very little about everything that I actually do at the Draper Center. I feel anxiety about relating a complete, relevant synopsis of what I do so more people become aware of what working at the Draper Center means. My anxiety is evident when I have to introduce myself, and I am quick to stammer a few sentences about what I do.  I speak too quickly, mispronounce words, and end up red in the face. Yes, that happens; I'm not perfect. 

Nevertheless, I attempt to share what I do because I recognize the role of the Post Bac Fellow at the Draper Center and at Pomona College is a vital one. Bryan Coreas ‘12, who was the first Post Bac Fellow, set an incredible precedent, and I hope that I—and future Post Bac Fellows—can continue his legacy. 

In engaging with the students that I work with and alongside, I see pieces of myself, especially in my work with PAYS and K-12 Campus Programs. That is not to say that I project my experience on them or dare to say that I completely understand them. However, my experiences as a first-generation, low income, woman of color, inform everything that I do, so I attempt to create and support places for such students to thrive. My social justice work at the Draper Center allows me to passionately address the institutional inequities that I faced and that students interacting with the Draper Center continue to face.

One day, as a high school student got on the bus to leave Pomona’s campus, she shouted, “Bye, Ms. Priscila, I will see you here very soon.” Throughout her visit on campus, she had been engaged and enthusiastic, and now she let me know that she was determined to make it to Pomona College. Her words have stuck with me as I think of the trajectory her life might take until she applies to college. So many things must take place in her life to guarantee that she even has a thirteen percent chance of getting into Pomona College.  Her words, her promises make my work and the work of the Draper Center clear. I must, we must, continue to engage in educational outreach and support college access for high school students in our extended community.

As I go about my work, I constantly go back to such moments, and I think about all the systems that do not work for our students. As the Post Bac Fellow, I feel that I play an integral role in informing how the Draper Center and Pomona College go about supporting such students both in the surrounding communities and on campus.

By pushing me to develop professionally and by preparing me for work beyond Pomona College, the Post Bac position allows me to explore how I want to continue my social justice work and the best practices to follow. I encourage graduating seniors, interested in social justice work and educational outreach to apply for the position when the application becomes available in late April.   

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