Local organization helps Latino students who are facing challenges amidst the pandemic

Posted at 12:55 PM, Jan 11, 2021

The pandemic has been hard on most teens. An organization is changing those students' lives in the Clarke Square Neighborhood.

Denise-Arlene Cevilla's life was flipped upside down as soon as the pandemic hit. Not just because classes went remote, the 17-year-old had to help her sibling who just had a baby.

"I moved away from home to help take care of their newborn," said Cevilla. "It was very hard to focus while doing online."

She faced more setbacks while prepping for the ACT.

Cevilla said, "Not only were they canceled the first time but the second time and the makeups were canceled."

All of this was made easier thanks to the pre-college program offered by the United Community Center.

It's connected to Bruce Guadalupe school, which Cevilla attended through eighth-grade.

Along with finding scholarships, the program helped build stronger college applications through networking and volunteer opportunities.

"We were able to do virtual summer rec," said Cevilla. "Doing virtual tutor sessions to younger cellists."

There's the challenge to make sure none of the children are falling through the cracks, by checking in through zoom each week.

"More distant communication has been our biggest challenge," said Jeff Condit, Youth Programs Director.

Cevilla said, "They were also very good at just making sure I was mentally and emotionally well."

Cevilla also learned she is not alone in this struggle, "Other peers needed to take on a part-time job to help their parents who were now laid off, and not only was that shocking but it was motivating me."

Here is your Rebound Rundown:

  • The United Community Center offers support at:
  • Bruce-Guadalupe & Acosta Middle School
  • UCC serves about 2,000 students each year
  • Mission: Increase the college graduation rate among Latino students in our city

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