Cerritos College Honors Project HOPE Class of 2008
Health Net, OCCU, Verizon and the Office of Supervisor Don Knabe Applaud 66 Graduates of the Healthcare Career-Prep Program
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 20, 2008
Media Contact:Aya Abelon, Public Affairs; (562) 860-2451 ext.2287
NORWALK, Calif. – May 20, 2008 – Cerritos College's Project HOPE (Health Opportunities and Pipeline to Education), and premiere sponsors Health Net, Orange County’s Credit Union (OCCU), Verizon and Office of Supervisor Don Knabe recognized 66 graduates of the Project HOPE program on Thursday, May 8 during the program's fourth annual graduation banquet entitled "Ensuring Diversity in the Health Professions." The ceremony celebrated the graduates’ program completion, entrance to health programs, and transfer to four-year universities.
The Project HOPE Class of 2008 included over 15 students who were admitted into nursing programs, pre-health professional students who will be transferring to various CSU and UC campuses, including California State University, Long Beach; California State University, Los Ageles; UCLA; UC Berkeley; UC Irvine; and UC Davis, and 15 students who earned certificates from the Cerritos College Mental Health Worker Program. The increase in number of Project HOPE graduates over the last five years speaks to the program’s success as a support program for students entering health fields.
“We are proud to honor these dedicated graduates for their hard work and commitment to serving underserved communities,” said Project HOPE Director Graciela Vasquez. “We wish them the best with their educational goals and future careers in healthcare.”
A recent grant from the College Access Foundation of California allowed for the unprecedented presentation of multiple-year scholarship awards, each worth $10,000, to three Project HOPE transfer students: Khoi Pham, Alvaro Lizcano, and Nancy Perez who was also the event’s student speaker. “As a first generation college Latina student and third eldest of seven kids, college presented many academic and financial challenges. I know this is to be true for many of my peers, where college is unfamiliar territory and success is unattainable,” said Nancy. “This is why programs like Project HOPE are so important to students like us – students who otherwise would not have the confidence and motivation to succeed.”
Additionally, Mr. Clemente Gonzalez, Regional Director for Aetna, presented Project HOPE graduate Vanessa de Leon with the Aetna named scholarship, a perpetual scholarship made possible through an endowed donation for Project HOPE pre-health professional students. Dr. Ismael Nuño, Chief Cardiac Surgeon for LA County + USC Medical Center presented Lavene Mays with the annual Catharine Ann Nuño Memorial Scholarship; Leticia Mata, Assistant VP of Community Education and Development for OCCU presented Lissette Walle with OCCU’s Community Service Award; and Georgina Maldonado of Health Net awarded two scholarships to Jessica Marcado and Sandra Mardonovich.
The event master of ceremony was Ignacio "Nacho" Rojas, Jr., immediate past chair for the Project HOPE advisory committee and program coordinator of the Parent Academy for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Dr. America Bracho, executive director of Latino Health Access in Santa Ana, California, was the keynote speaker.
Additional event sponsors included Caceres Medical Group, Cerritos College Foundation, Coast Plaza Doctor’s Hospital, Interstate Poultry, Inc., L.A. Care Health Plan, Mental Health America of Los Angeles, Norwalk Lions Club, The California Wellness Foundation, and the Honorable Jesse Luera of the City of Norwalk.
Cerritos College's awareness of its diverse student population and changing community needs contributed to the birth of Project HOPE six years ago through Title V federal funding. Project HOPE is designed to increase the number and success of Latinos and other underrepresented students entering the health professions. The program is committed to remedying the Latino health care professional shortage by encouraging Latino youth to pursue education opportunities that lead to professional health care careers and helping them overcome challenges facing Latino students, such as the need for financial assistance for education.
Project HOPE is dedicated to increasing the number of Latinos and other underrepresented groups entering, matriculating, and completing health careers. The project aims to create an academic pipeline facilitating the success of minority students in this competitive field. Program activities include: student services geared toward health careers; teaching strategies and courses that increase retention and success of Latino students and other minorities; organized workshops, conferences and research opportunities; community service venues; and peer and professional mentoring. For more information about Project Hope, visit www.cerritos.edu/hope.
Cerritos College serves as a comprehensive community college for southeastern Los Angeles County. Communities within the college’s district include Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, La Mirada, Norwalk, and portions of Bell Gardens, Lakewood, Long Beach, Santa Fe Springs and South Gate. Cerritos College offers degrees and certificates in more than 200 areas of study in nine divisions. Annually, more than 1,200 students successfully complete their course of studies, and enrollment currently nears 20,000 students. Visit Cerritos College online at www.cerritos.edu.