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Norte Vista High School Avid Essay

The Little Mermaid OPENS TONIGHT! Doors OPEN at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:00 p.m.!


Attention ALL SENIORS: If you still would like to purchase a Senior Panoramic photo, the FINAL DEADLINE will be Friday, March 30th.  Remember the cost is $20.00, and payable IN CASH at the ASB window.


Attention all Optimist members and any students interested in earning hours for community service.  Our third annual science night at Arlanza Elementary School is fast approaching- every Thursday after school between March 8- March 29 is a work day preparing for the event.  Please join us in making this event our most successful.  Questions?  See any officers from Optimist or stop by room 901.


Attention all students.  Do you want to get involved?  Do you want to make your community a better place? Do you want to help others?  Global needs your help!  We have several projects to help the homeless, veterans, gardening and international community and we need a few more hands.  These are great opportunities for Community service hours, CAS projects, UC application questions and just to learn new skills!  Be a leader, join Global!  Room 112.


The Link Crew Football Tournament Ends TODAY as Beat Repeat meets IMG in the finals today during 1st lunch.  Come on out and cheer them on!


Attention all Lady Braves, Happy International Women’s day!  Please, believe, you are all beautiful, powerful and capable of doing so much today and in your futures! You deserve the world!   Please come to the HERS meeting in room 114, today at lunch and afterschool where we will discuss a project to honor Women’s History Month and other upcoming events!


Attention All Braves, If you are interested in participating in the Novi organized, National Empower Youth Peace Walkout  against gun violence, next Wednesday, March 14, please attend a brief meeting today afterschool in room 114, and Monday, during 2nd lunch and afterschool….Come see Ms. Segura in room 114.


Congratulations to AVID Seniors Emmanuel Camacho, Jose Valdivia, Jesus “Chewy” Rodriguez, Kevin Moreno, Jorge Leyva, Alondra Casas, Kayla Melchor, Stephanie Rodriguez, and Miriam De La O for their acceptance to Cal State Fullerton, AVID Seniors Tania Venegas, Stephanie Rodriguez, Diana Limon, and Jesus “Chewy” Rodriguez for their acceptance to Cal State East Bay and special shout out to AVID Senior Pablo Ramirez for his acceptance to UCR.


Congratulations to Diego Bello for his acceptance to UCR!!!! Way to reach higher!


Congratulations to the Varsity baseball team in their 9-1 victory over Orange Vista yesterday.


Boys tennis beat Grand Terrace on Tuesday 10-8.  Francisco Verdin swept.  On Wednesday they beat Kaiser 11-7.  The doubles team of Pat Castellanos and Pablo Ramirez swept.  Aiden Leyva won his first 2 varsirty sets.  Great job Braves.  Coach Boese


Congratulations to the girls varsity and JV swim teams for defeating Arlington in Tuesday's swim meet.  Varsity won with a score of 101 to 69 and JV won with a score of 92 to 55.  Congratulations and GO BRAVES!


Upcoming Presentations in the Braves Lounge – Sign Up in Guidance


MONDAY – Mar. 12: Career Exploration: Nursing Presentation (Braves Lounge) (3rd Period)


MONDAY – Mar. 26: California Baptist University Presentation (Braves Lounge) (5th Period)

TUESDAY – Mar. 27: California State Fullerton Presentation – Sophomores & Juniors ONLY (Braves Lounge) (3rd Period)

In this section we have former AVID Norte Vista students explain why they chose to remain in AVID and give an update into what they are doing as they have realized their dream of a college education.

Corey Johnson

Norte Vista AVID c/o 2004

University of Redlands c/o 2008

Major: Business Administration

I graduated from Norte Vista High School, as a four year AVID student, in 2004.Since then, I have gone on to attend and graduate from the University of Redlands with a bachelors degree in business administration.With this being said I truly feel that the AVID program played an instrumental role in my current successes. AVID taught me many things about how to become successful, as well as maintaining success.I want to touch on a few of the tools that AVID gave me and continues to provide.

Firstly, and I believe the most important means to success is public speaking.AVID forced me to constantly break out of my comfort zone and give presentations.Over time, I began to look forward to these presentations and became confident in my abilities to present information in a manner that keeps the listeners attention.Without the constant presentations required in the AVID class I do not believe I would have honed in my public speaking skills.

Time management is another skill that I gained during my time in AVID and have "somewhat" perfected since then.This skill is extremely important for over all life success.It is something that was forced on us in AVID, and we hated filling out the time management sheets, but in reality it plays a major role in our daily lives. Not understanding the how to manage ones time often makes us feel overwhelmedand hinders our ability to accomplish our goals.Without some sort of time management it is impossible for anyone to finish school or maintain a career in any industry or field.

The last skill that I want to discuss is teamwork.The tutorials and group activities that take place during an AVID class helped me understand the importance of teamwork.It is true that some teams/groups are unsuccessful, but those experiences taught me a great deal as well.In any career we are forced to work with others to accomplish the company goal.Sometimes I have been forced to work with individuals that I do not particularly like.Even so we were able to accomplish our set goal, despite our group differences.My experiences in AVID tutorials and group projects greatly helped me understand the importance of teamwork and taught me the skills necessary to work through group differences to accomplish the group goal.

Once I graduated high school I began working for Empire Oil Company, which was an oil distributor for ExxonMobil.I worked in the warehouse, while I attended the University of Redlands.During my four years I witnessed my company be bought and sold on two different occasions.The company I currently work for is Western Refining Wholesale, which is a publicly traded corporation based out of Tucson, Arizona.During all these company changes I was able to work my way into an Operations Supervisor position, where my duties included ensuring that products were getting into the warehouse and being delivered on time.Also, I was responsible for maintaining over three million dollars in inventory.I stayed in this position until November of 2010, when I took a sales position for the same company.I am currently responsible maintaining a client base of two hundred as well as bringing on new business. In this position I am forced to work with other sales representatives, give countless presentations and manage my time in an effective manner.If I did not have the skills that AVID teaches it would be impossible for me to be a good sales representative.

AVID was the first major step I took to understanding what it means to be successful and how to accomplish success.Without AVID I do not believe that I would have developed the public speaking, time management, and teamwork skills required to graduate from a four year university and accomplish the company goals that I am required to meet.Although, I am still learning how to perfect these skills, AVID was instrumental in helping me understand their importance.

A parent’s point of view:

When we first learned of the AVID Program we thought of it as a college prep class, but it is so much more than that!

Both of our children were fortunate enough to be accepted into the AVID Program. I believe it was the best opportunity they could have ever experienced!

Under the watchful eye of the AVID Coordinator, Valeria Graham, they learned so much, not only academically, but many life lessons as well.

AVID is an amazing program that keeps students focused on higher education and it’s benefits, it also offers individual tutoring when needed and a hefty dose of accountability — which is what we all need even though we don’t like it!

Both of our children went on to earn an Undergraduate degree in four years. Our son earned a Business Management degree, going on to earn a Graduate degree six years later. Our daughter earned a Double Major degree in Communications/Journalism graduating with honors, Cum Lade.

As parents we are blessed to see that our children are successful in life and we owe a great deal to the AVID Program and their Coordinator, Valeria Graham who was instrumental in helping to bring this about!

Thank you Valeria and the school district for having the vision of the importance of preparing students for higher education and life!


Tony & Luanne Reyes

Son, Aaron– Class of 2000

Daughter , Katie– Class of 2004

Dino Gonzales

Norte Vista c/o 2005

UCLA c/o 2009

Major: Bachelors of Arts in History

Currently: California Baptist University

Single Subject Teaching Credential Program

I was in the AVID program at Norte Vista from 2001 to 2005. To say the least, it was one of my more enjoyable experiences during my high school career. Everything, from the tutorials to the presentations, had a purpose at the end of the day. I can honestly say that everything from AVID helped me during my college career. It was even more awesome that I completed these AVID related activities with my friends, which should say more that enough about the type of students that one works with inthis program. For any student who has a chance to go into AVID: I say, “Do it.”

A parent’s point of view:

Planting a seed in your child’s head and watching it grow is amazing. My husband and I are not college educated, but we always told our children that they were going to college. Not knowing how, we were going to get them there. Then came AVID and an amazing teacher named Ms. Graham. AVID is a program that will help your child, or children in our case, learn how to study and prepare themselves for their future. I have three kids who all graduated from high school, two of them went to college, and one of them is now working on his teaching credential. We could not be happier! Thank you Ms. Graham and the AVID program!

Lisa and Dino Gonzales

Son, Dino Gonzales — Class of 2005

Daughter, Trisha Aure — Class of 2000

Kyle Johnson

Norte Vista c/o 2007

University of Redlands c/o 2011

Major: Business Administration

There is no doubt in my mind that AVID has helped me get to where I am now.  I graduated from the University of Redlands in May 2011 and also have a pretty firm idea of where I want to take my career.  Some of the key things that AVID helped me with was my public speaking skills and college entrance essays.  Ms. Graham also guided me toward classes that were most beneficial to my future.  Most of all, AVID taught me how to be a professional.

I have always been and outgoing person.  AVID helped me turn that into a business degree.  In AVID we were constantly mentored on how to give professional presentations.  Honestly, you would be surprised at how much of a better speaker I am than my college peers.  AVID trained me to take a brief pause instead of saying words like “umm” or stuttering.  AVID also helped me learn to talk with an even pace even when I was nervous.  I have given many professional presentations to business professors and companies.  This skill is also helping me with my job interviews right now!

College entrance essays are perhaps the most important aspect of the entire application process.  They seriously act as a tool to weed out unqualified applicants.  Having good writing skills is the first step to being interviewed for college admittance.   I can remember Ms. Graham and the tutors editing, then re editing, then re, re editing my essays for Redlands and the UC Colleges.  Without that support system, I doubt that I would have gotten into the University of Redlands.  Having above average writing skills has also saved me money while in college.  All college students have to pass a writing exam before they graduate.  If we don’t pass it, students are required to take a series of writing classes.  I passed the exam the first time (as a freshman) thanks to AVID.  As a result, I was able to take more classes towards my degree and able to skip one semester of college.  This saved me money in tuition!

AVID also helped me pick classes that would most benefit my future.  Ms. Graham strongly urged me to take a computer class instead of taking auto shop.  I listened.  Now because

of the things I learned in that class, I was able to get a part time job working as IT support for and office.  This job has really helped me pay for some of my living expenses while in college.  I have taken the same approaches to picking college classes as I did picking classes in high school.  As I mentioned above, I am ahead and am able to graduate early!  Are you sensing the theme yet?

In all seriousness, there were times when I didn’t care too much for AVID.  You will do more work than your non-AVID classmates.  You will be required to take upper level classes.  You will be pushed to do your absolute best. But you know what else? You will walk away with skills that can be used the rest of your life! You will succeed!  You will go to college!

Yessenia Ramirez 

Norte Vista AVID c/o 2009

California Baptist University c/o 2013

Major: Liberal Studies

Looking back at my high school career, the rigorous curriculum of the AVID program met its goal of preparing me for college. A junior at California Baptist University (CBU), I now comprehend the tremendous emphasis Ms. Graham, the AVID Coordinator at Norte Vista High School placed on time management and planning. 

Although the college life is a fun and exciting stage, there is an increase of responsibilities and commitments. The AVID program has helped me prioritize academics, extracurricular activities, community service and social life. The weekly binder checks and strict deadline dates allowed me to become a much moreorganized and well-oriented person. The monotone routine of writing down assignments in a planner now is beneficial because I know ahead of time when a test, assignment or project is due. The strategies and tools I learned in the AVID program havestrengthened my analytical, writing, organizational and punctual skills. Overall, the AVID program was the icing on the cake during my high school career because of the friendships I established and the essential tools I gained, which I needed to be successful incollege.    

Jessica Rodriguez

Norte Vista AVID c/o 2011

UC Berkeley c/o 2015

Major: Public Health 

From August 2007 to now I have had one ultimate goal: to go to college. Being a Hispanic female whose parents’ education only went up to middle school, this goal seemed impossible. Not only was it harder for me to pursue a higher education, but I needed to make sure this was what I wanted to make it become a reality. Now I look back and realize that everything I have accomplished has been to fulfill this aspiration.

Although I had a goal, as a fourteen year old entering high school, a detailed plan to achieve it did not occur to me. Going to college, any college, was first. The means to get there came second.Luckily, I had my mother who forced me to apply to AVID.But thinking AVID would deviate me from my goal, I refused to apply. To this day I give thanks to the moment when I decided to follow through with enrolling in AVID. I have come to learn over the years that I desperately needed the guidance from the AVID program I once declined to receive.If I did not realize it as a freshman that AVID had the potential to help me advance my goal, I certainly realize it as a senior who has already confirmed her entrance to UC Berkeley. Every day AVID is my support system. It has prepared me to succeed in my present endeavors and in my higher education. The program has seen me develop and polish my leadership and academic skills, and as a result, I have been voted AVID President for the past two years and will graduate valedictorian of my class.The personal and academic growth that AVID has fostered within me, I know, contributed to my receiving numerous college acceptances letters, and for this I have much gratitude. I certainly have come a long way from the little freshman too shy to even say a word in class.

From my AVID teachers to the tutors, each has played an important role in the completion of my goal. Whether I have trouble on a college application essay or on a difficult math problem during tutorials, or even questions about what is the best for my future they are always ready to help. Even those sometimes tedious notebook checks and endless pages of Cornell notes contributed to my goal, making me an even stronger student.

If there is one thing I am certain about it is that AVID has been a large part of my success. My GPA, SAT scores, nor my intelligence level are not the factors allowing me to attend college; it is the drive and motivation that has been cultivated in the AVID program for the past four years.I began with one impossible goal and a program ready to offer me endless opportunities. I end now with dreams for the future and the knowledge and preparation from AVID.

America M. Islas

Norte Vista AVID c/o 2006

San Diego State University c/o 2010

Major: Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences Psychology

Minor: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies

I have so much to say about AVID that I do not even know where to begin. I feel that the AVID program was the key that open many doors in my life and I would of not been able to succeed in life without it. Not only did it teach me self satisfaction but it allowed to push past what I thought were my limits. AVID was my number one resource to get on the right path to a successful career. I became the first in family to graduate from high school, the first to graduate from a university and will be the first to graduate from a graduate program. Through AVID, I gained the skills I needed not only to succeed in school, but also to succeed in the work place. One thing I will never forget about AVID is to "Always Keep Your Eyes On The Prize" and remember that "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

Cesar B. Rodarte

Norte Vista c/o 2006

UC Riverside c/o 2010

Major: Chemistry

The AVID program provided me with the motivation to move beyond my comfort zone and truly challenge myself academically. Up until high school, I never put much effort into school work; I was an A/B student with a lot of free time, and I was totally fine with that. But I quickly learned that underachieving was not allowed while in Ms. Graham's AVID class. AP classes peppered my schedule through out my four years at NOVI, which made my time there a much more academically rewarding experience. The AVID program provides more than just academic guidance and support, it also helps students build their portfolios in order to make them competititve applicants for top tier universities and scholarships. My performance in high school allowed me to attend the University of Redlands to major in Chemistry on nearly a full scholarship. Once at the university, the good study habits I learned from the AVID program helped me earn several summer research internships and the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater scholarship. I am currently working on obtaining my teaching credential at the University of Redlands in order to teach chemistry, physics, and math at the high school level. My decision to teach at the high school level was largely based on the tremendous impact the program and Ms. Graham had on my life. A truly great teacher can transform potential into success, and it is my hope that in my career as an educator I am able to do even a small fraction of the good that the AVID program and Ms. Graham have done for students like me.

Niecole Casciani

Norte Vista C/O 2002

College: Argosy University C/O 2008

Major: Psychology

I graduated from Argosy University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology.The AVID program guided me through high school, prepared me for college and even lifebeyond college.From the challenging AP courses to the rigorous Cornell style notes practiced through AVID, I was well prepared to transition smoothly into college.I now apply the communication and organization skills I learned in the program in my work field.I continue to view this program as a stepping stone that leads to success in high school, college and a career.My son is only sixteen months now, but we plan on enrolling him in the program when the time comes!

Jose Roberto Rocha

Norte Vista AVID c/o 2004

California State University, San Bernardino c/o 2008

Major: Kinesiology - Exercise Science

California Polytechnic University, Pomona c/o 2011

Major: Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology

AVID is more than what it stands for, it is a program that has not only focused on steering students towards college and be self -determined, but in my case a program that taught me the skills and habits that have helped me get to where I am today.Those skills and habits include time management, organization, and setting goals.

My experience in AVID made my transition from high school to college smoother. I was prepared for the challenges and knew what to expect.Throughout college and even now, I keep a quote in my head that was a motto in our AVID class,"Keep your eyes on the prize". While in high school, I would not pay much attention to the quote. It was not until I got into college that I began to realize what the quote really meant.To me, it means to have a goal in life, to plan how to achieve the goal, to always work towards that goal and not give up. I am greatly indebted for all of the opportunities that AVID has given me and I consider myself grateful to have been part of the AVID program.

Elfego Felix

Norte Vista AVID c/o 2006

Stanford University c/o 2010

Major: Environmental Engineering

My journey in the AVID program began freshman year in high school.One of the very first group projects we worked on in the class was the task of designing and inventing our own dream college.It was great way to become familiar with the wide selection of colleges out there.At the same time, this project was one of the many team building exercises that AVID stressed.Among other essential elements stressed in the program were time management, organization, and of course who could forget the Cornell notes-- a style that to this day, I continue to practice.

By the time senior year in high school came around, my participation and engagement in the AVID program convinced me that I would be continuing on to a post secondary institution.From sixteen schools that I applied to, I was accepted to fourteen.I choose to attend Stanford University, graduated in 2010, and earned Bachelors of Science in Environmental Engineering.

My current position is one for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) and the focus of my job is to work to ensure and improve air quality.Recently, I've found more than ever, that I rely on and continue to seek to improve those fundamental skills that I first began to explore during my AVID years.Teamwork, prioritization, and time management are skills that I practice at work on a daily basis.I've even been fortunate enough to partake recently in several professional development trainings that unsurprisingly simply reinforce these concepts.

The habits and lessons that are learned in the AVID program are ones that last for a lifetime.

Norte Vista AVID c/o 2005

UC Santa Barbara c/o 2009

Major: English

Minor: Education

Currently: California Baptist University

Teaching Credential and Masters Program

Hands down, I think AVID is the most beneficial program for students who aspire to go to college. No other program has impacted my life as greatly as AVID has. Even today, as an aspiring teacher, I use the skills that I have learned from AVID and I apply it to my everyday life. In retrospect, I can say with confidence that there is no way I was going to college without AVID’s guidance. I can remember myself as an arrogant ninth grader full of excuses and I think of how I turned into a confident high school senior preparing to go away to college. In my four years at the University of California, Santa Barbara, I continued to use the skills that I learned in AVID and I was able to earn my degree in English and a minor in Education. I am currently a graduate student at California Baptist University going for my teaching credentials and Masters Degree. What makes AVID so special is that it gives you valuable skills that you can use for the rest of your life. Because of AVID, I will never forget how to prepare to be successful. I will always appreciate what AVID has done for me and I feel honored to say that I am an AVID alumnus.

Norte Vista AVID c/o 2003

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University c/o 2007

Major: Global Security and Intelligence Studies

Growing up in my family I was constantly told that a hard work and an education were the keys to a success. Unfortunately, my family did not know much about college and what kind of preparation it required. The process was unknown to them as well as myself; then AVID appeared.

I saw a presentation on AVID and knew that my best chance at going to college was being a part of this program. I joined the AVID program and it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Through the AVID program I learned of my future university, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I learned all about the university and programs it offered and dedicated my academic career to being accepted to this school.I learned of an Upward Bound Math/Science Summer Program and was able to attend this program for four years during the summer.Through this program I became familiar with area, made friends at the university and got to know the faculty before I was even an official student of the university.

Once I was accepted and moved to Prescott, Arizona to attend Embry-Riddle it was like picking up where I left off with my life. I began working for the Upward Bound program as a student employee part-time and quickly became more involved with the program.I started first with basic filing and data entry and later found myself presenting and meetings and planning the summer program where I was once a student. I promoted from student employee to staff liaison to the faculty and resident advisors. Each year my responsibilities grew each year ending with being an Assistant Resident Director.Because of Upward Bound I was given the opportunity to attend several business trips, including one to Washington, D.C. where I shook hands with congressman and senators and spoke on behalf of our program.

After graduating from Embry-Riddle my grandfather passed away and took this tragedy as an opportunity to return home to California.Currently I am at home helping my grandmother and working as a substitute teacher and AVID tutor.

I am working as substitute teacher and AVID tutor now for the same program that I was a student in so many years ago.I have the joy of watching students grow and learn as I did, and go on to college as I did.Because of the AVID program I have come full circle, from being a young student, to growing into a contributing adult.My AVID teacher is now not only my boss, but my mentor, and my friend.

I am still going to school and I have no intention of stopping until I have at least one PhD.None of this would have been possible were it not for the AVID program.

On September 18, 2011, Norte Vista AVID lost one of its family members, friend, tutor and substitute teacher, Christopher Maldonado.May he rest in peace.

Dayana Ramirez

Norte Vista AVID c/o 2009

California Baptist University c/o 2013

Major:Journalism & Media

Concentration: Public Relations

I remember walking into my first AVID class in the Fall of 2004, back when I knew that I needed to make new changes in my life and set an example for my younger siblings. The AVID program was something new, something I only heard about after my eldest cousin who graduated from high school and did not proceed onto to college. My family saw his hardships as a new opportunity and a new beginning for everyone else. As the older cousin, he did not know anything about college and the opportunities that  lie ahead as you in advance in your education.

While he was not able to set the example for everyone, his younger sister, the second oldest cousin in our entire family, was to make the difference. She joined AVID a couple of years before I did, and started telling us about all the new things that she learned, and the importance of obtaining a higher education. While my family always understood that going to a college or a university was extremely important, they did not know how to help us get there. For this reason, I was motivated to remain in AVID for the rest of my eighth grade year in junior high school and proceed to continue the program for the rest of my high school career, after filling out an application and preparing for the next step.

At first it was hard to adjust to the new changes of AVID and high school, but with time and guidance, I was able to understand that as I advanced and grew older, things changed for the better. While I do admit that doing so many notes and preparing for so many binder checks even though I had a million more things to do was dreadful, I now understand that through those years of discipline I learned new ways to be organized, I am now able to put those skills to work in college.

As I approached my senior year, I also came to an understanding that AVID was the best decision I ever made. Not only did this program show me how to be more organized, but it also guided my through the college application process, which I knew nothing about. Because of AVID and its requirements, I was able to add that I had completed a total of four hundred hours of community service on each college application, something that not only looked nice, but also demonstrated that I was a well-rounded student. As I sit back and reminisce about my AVID experience, I can finally say that while I encountered many roadblocks and hardships, I can finally see all the hard work pay off now that I am in college. 

Norte Vista AVID c/o 2006

UC Berkeley c/o 2010

Major: English and Chicano Studies Double Major

Maps are often thought of as objects, tools used to prevent people from getting lost, but a map isn’t always something tangible. I didn’t follow a yellow brick road or click on the maps application on my phone; I had AVID show me the path towards higher education.  AVID has been my guide to success and without it I may have missed a turn and ended up on Average Lane.

My name is Angelica Arriaga and I participated in the AVID program at Norte Vista High School from 2002-2006. Before I joined the program, college was something I wanted, but it was a foreign word. I didn’t quite understand what it was or how I could get in, and if I managed to get accepted, how would I pay for it? All of these questions filled my head and my parents, being from Mexico, knew nothing about the process. This is when AVID first began to help me demystify college. It became clear that with a concise goal, plan of action and a strong work ethic, I could attend a university. I began to explore the multitude of careers. I went from wanting to be a doctor to a psychologist, a journalist to a prosecuting attorney and finally a teacher. By the time Senior year came around, I had prepared myself as best I could academically, participated in various clubs, volunteered at local convalescent homes and faced the SAT. I had listened to Ms. Graham, my AVID teacher, tells us to keep our eyes on the prize and that advancement was possible via individual determination; finally, it was time to apply to colleges. I applied to thirteen schools and was accepted into eleven of those, my choice became apparent as I was invited to visit UC Berkeley on a three day trip, all expenses paid. AVID not only helped me prepare to apply and get accepted into a four-year university, it helped me pay for my education as I was a recipient of the 2006 AVID RIMS Scholarship.

 My transition to UC Berkeley was not as difficult as I expected. I expected to have an academic meltdown, while I did not drown in my studies, I did initially feel the shock of being told I was average. I was no longer the big fish in a small pond. My biggest challenge was cultural. I joined the UC Berkeley Ballet Folklorico group, Reflejos de Mexico because at least there I could speak Spanish without someone giving me a strange look. This need to connect to my roots also triggered my interest in Chicano Studies, which I later decided to double major in along with English. I didn't initially realize that AVID was in part responsible for my ability to transition successfully into a highly competitive university. It wasn't until I noticed how my friends began to struggle and how people I met my first semesters were no longer students at UC Berkeley that I began analyzing the difference. How could a student who earned a 4.5 GPA and scored a 2100 on the SAT struggle so much as to be dismissed from the college?I  had only managed to earn a 3.9 GPA and after a third attempt, pulled a 1640 on my SAT, but I was balancing a seventeen unit course load, six hours of dance practice a week, a part-time job and volunteering as an AVID tutor at a local high school. The difference was those four years of constant time management, effective use of planners, detailed Cornell notes, study groups, writing exercises, and the ability to ask questions. AVID had been with me all along and had allowed me to succeed..

After four years, I walked along the stage with my parents by my side and received a Bachelor's of Arts in English and Chicano Studies. I returned to Riverside for a few months, worked as an AVID tutor for Norte Vista High School and am currently the Program Director for a non-profit organization in Richmond, California. I aim to prepare my students with the same tools and guidance that AVID  gave me. Without this program and particularly one special lady by the name of Ms. Graham, I would have never been the rold model I am today. I wouldn't have spent a summer in Buenos Aires, Argentina or listen to my mother tell everyone she meets that her daughter graduated from UC Berkeley. AVID changed my life and I didn't just receive a degree, I gained a family. I intend to pursue a teaching career and will be applying to Teach for America this fall. After, I may just head home and join the AVID team at Norte Vista High School.
Matthew Harrington

Norte Vista AVID c/o 2004

MIT c/o 2008

Major: Chemical Biological Engineering

Minor: Biology

AVID provided me with both the vast knowledge around getting into college as well as the support system that help keep my eye on the prize. Without both, I never would have gotten into MIT and had the opportunities that have helped me arrive at where I am today.

In 2008, I started as a Process Engineer at the Clorox Company in the food and litter businesses (think Hidden Valley and Fresh Step). Recently I switched roles and now I develop new products to be used in hospitals and professional businesses that help stop the spread of infection. Much of my current success has come from all the hard work I put into my education starting all the way back to my freshman year at NOVI.

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