Sonoma Valley High School senior Mariana Mendoza will be attending UC Santa Barbara this fall on an almost full ride, thanks to the Boys & Girls Clubs’ College Bound program. Introduced to the program through a friend and fellow SVHS student, Mendoza was initially planning on just applying to junior college because she felt she didn’t have the grades for a four-year university and she knew she didn’t have the money.
“When I first started going to the club, Robin (teen services director, Robin Eurgubian) pulled me aside to ask why I was only thinking about the JC. She took an interest in me and made a point to help me change my thinking about my grades and financial necessity for college,” said Mendoza.
Eurgubian challenged Mendoza to take the SATs and the ACTs and got her thinking about four-year universities. But because each application comes with a fee, Mendoza initially only planned to apply to Chico State and San Francisco State. Eurgubian stepped in and had the fees waived, encouraging Mendoza to apply to as many schools as possible.
“My two dream schools were UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara. I didn’t have any expectations of getting into either but I gave it a shot anyway. Robin guided me through the application process, especially the personal statement which was hard and took me a couple of weeks to complete,” she said.
Mendoza was accepted into all six of the schools to which she applied. She was thrilled and chose her top school – UC Santa Barbara – which offered financial aid that, along with a number of scholarships, will help cover almost all of the cost of tuition. A small student loan or work will cover the remainder.
“I’m so excited! I’m the first in my family to go to college. My parents are really proud of me. And I’m proud that I challenged myself,” Mendoza said. “The College Bound program was a big help. Not only did it help me realize that my grades were good enough and that, with financial help, college was possible, it gave me the confidence to apply. It is a great program for teens.”