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First-generation college-bound students get a send-off from SOS

First-generation college-bound students get a send-off from SOS
Costa Mesa High School senior Abrahan Venegas receives a new laptop as part of a graduation package from the nonprofit Share Our Selves. He plans to attend Cal State Fullerton. (Photo by Luciano Leon)

Costa Mesa High School senior Abrahan Venegas will commute by bus this fall from his parents’ home to Cal State Fullerton, where he plans to study business administration.

The 17-year-old’s college career received a boost Thursday through a $500 scholarship coordinated by Costa Mesa-based nonprofit Share Our Selves and the Hazel Cubbon Greenleaf Foundation.

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“It feels good because I’ve been worrying about how I’m going to pay for college,” Abrahan said.

SOS honored Abrahan and 31 other students from Costa Mesa, Estancia and Newport Harbor high schools who will be the first in their families to attend college.

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As part of a graduation package, students received a backpack filled with school supplies, luggage with dorm essentials if they plan to live on campus, a new laptop and a sweatshirt from their future college.

SOS donor relations assistant Marie Macaulay said the packages are possible because of donations from local foundations and individuals.

On Thursday, a panel of SOS alumni offered the students and their parents tips for a successful college career. Among them was Cal State Fullerton alumna Natalie Acevedo, who emphasized the importance of joining a club or student organization as a freshman.

“It’s OK to feel like you’re lost, because that’s how you’ll find out where you want to be,” Acevedo said. “Be open to try new things and be more involved so you feel more part of the school.”

Ana Aguayo-Bryant, assistant director of student health and wellness for the California State University system, offered the students her business card and asked them to call if they’re struggling with college life.

“We’re really proud of your parents or the people in your life who are supporting you,” she said.

Aguayo-Bryant added that students should take the summer to go to the beach or spend time with family and friends.

She urged undocumented students and those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, to “hang on and get a degree, because when you get a degree, nobody can take that away from you.”

To learn more about SOS programs, visit shareourselves.org.

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