COSTA MESA — Jose Sanchez Uribe has undergraduate and graduate degrees in sports medicine from Cal State Long Beach and is working on credentials so he can teach high school history.
Sanchez Uribe, 28, never thought he would be on the path he is now, but luckily for him, someone else did and made sure he had the opportunity to go to college.
In high school he got involved with Save Our Youth, or SOY, whose staff wouldn't let him settle for not going to a four-year university. Now on its board of directors, Sanchez Uribe wants to make sure the program continues to grow.
"It's an amazing program, and it's important to keep a program like that," he said.
SOY is a nonprofit organization that encourage students to make positive decisions in Costa Mesa's lower-income Westside.
The organization is hosting its one big fundraiser a year, the third annual Fiesta at Taco Rosa in Newport Beach on Thursday.
The Fiesta is a chance for donors to eat delicious food, see the results of the program they are supporting and meet the students they are helping, said Eduardo Iniestra, SOY's arts and music coordinator.
There will also be a dance performance and a silent action, he said.
With people still struggling with the economic downturn, and funding and grants down, fundraising is more important than ever, Sanchez Uribe said.
Sanchez Uribe knows first-hand the importance of the organization.
The former Costa Mesa resident attended Estancia High School, joining SOY after hearing about it from friends.
Although involved in the organization, he went back and forth about going to college.
"It was kind of up in the air," he said.
Sanchez Uribe didn't feel like he was meant for college because he had counselors who told him not to take college-required courses and negative experiences with his peers over his race. So when application time rolled around, he didn't apply anywhere.
When SOY officials found out, they made him call his mother. Then they got down to business.
With applications due the next day, they stayed with Sanchez Uribe until 11 p.m. to help him apply to five state universities.
When acceptance time came, he got admissions letters from all five — bringing his mother to tears.
"I got pretty emotional myself because I didn't think I would be accepted," he said.
If You Go
What: SOY's third annual Fiesta
When: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Taco Rose, 2632 San Miguel Road, Newport Beach
Cost: $50 in advance, $60 at the door.
Info: Call Executive Director Trevor Murphy at (949) 548-3255