Upward Scholars celebrates its students – like Antonio Garcia – at event at Holbrook Palmer Park

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on May 30, 2018

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Five years ago, Menlo Park resident Antonio Garcia came to the United States from El Salvador leaving his mother and sister behind. He now works as a cook, but the 22-year-old wants to get an AA degree in business administration and then transfer to a university where he can prepare for a career in finance.

The non-profit Upward Scholars is helping him achieve his goals. “Upward Scholars helps me a lot,” he said. “If it were not for this scholarship, I would not be able to go to college because my books are very expensive.”

The organization is hosting a celebration of its clients, low-income adults who are mostly immigrants, this weekend. The event — called Onward and Upward — will take place on June 2 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm at Holbrook Palmer Park in Atherton. Moises Bautista who is the first Upward Scholars student to graduate from a university will MC; Santa Clara Country Supervisor Joe Simitian is a special guest.

“We provide financial, academic, and community support so that low-income adult students can become proficient in English, get better jobs, and serve as role models and advocates for their children.” emailed Elizabeth Weal, the non-profit’s Executive Director.

She continued: “Upward Scholars began in 2011 when we provided scholarship to 21 students attending community college. This semester, we’re supporting 240 students, most of whom have jobs like dishwashers, gardeners, and housecleaners.

“Because students are low income, and often had limited education in their country, Upward Scholars support is critical to students staying in school. We promote student success by providing students with funds for books, transportation to college, and laptops as well as tutoring from community volunteers who meet with students weekly.”

In Antonio’s case, he spent a few years attending Sequoia Adult School honing his English skills and is now attending Canada College, balancing his studies with a full-time job. “It is a dream come true to be here and getting this education,” he said. “The country really is a place of opportunity, and I’m grateful.”

Residents who would like to attend the free event on Saturday, which will feature authentic fare and live music,  can sign up here.

Photo of by Linda Hubbard (c) 2018

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