Court 2 College gives scholarships

%28from+left%29+Judge+Peter+Espinoza%2C+Cerritos+College+Counselor+MiaSarah+Cesena%2C+Probation+Officer+Jennifer+Salverson+and+students+celebrate+the+scholarship+recipients+on+Thursday%2C+April+6.+Nine+students+were+awarded+scholarships+that+ranged+from+%24250-%24750+dollars.

Jenny Gonzalez

(from left) Judge Peter Espinoza, Cerritos College Counselor MiaSarah Cesena, Probation Officer Jennifer Salverson and students celebrate the scholarship recipients on Thursday, April 6. Nine students were awarded scholarships that ranged from $250-$750 dollars.

Jenny Gonzalez

Business Administration major Quintin McClallan, recipient of $750 scholarship from Court to College, credits determination, goals and motivation as important factors to being successful.

C2C held a private ceremony to award scholarships to nine students on Thursday, April 6.

McClallan learned the importance of acknowledging the difference between short-term and long-term goals in C2C.

The private program is partnered with the court system to direct students to college instead of facing incarceration for nonviolent crimes.

McClallan says he was picked up by the police for something he did two years prior to entering the program. He was going to Fullerton College and working full-time and had to miss his finals to get cleared.

“I lost my car, I lost everything. I lost my job, so then they made me come back to school and get my life back on track and it was a disappointment to my family because that is not how I was raised,” he said.

Dean of Counseling Services Dr. Renee DeLong oversees the program and is in “collaboration with [Los Angeles] County Superior Court, the Department of Justice, [and] the Probation Department.”

DeLong said the program supports students through counseling, “counselors who go to court on their behalf,” and progress reports to keep the court system informed how the students are doing.

C2C’s goal is to help the students get a certificate, degree or transfer to a four-year university.

“We have been very successful. We just celebrated our first ever celebration ceremony. I believe [this ceremony] honors the students for working so hard for over a year now,” DeLong said.

The students had to apply for the scholarship, which, ranged from $250-$750.

“Many of these students maybe have been in trouble with the law at one point in their life and they haven’t been given many accolades.

“They haven’t been told that they are worthwhile. So for them to hear that they are highly valued, that they are working hard and they are getting good grades, means the world to them.” DeLong said.

Business Administration major Nicole Rodriguez was the recipient of a $250 scholarship.

She said “I had to work my ass off of course, but I also had to stay focused and just keep myself motivated and positive.”

She said she learned the importance of going to college and feels good to receive the scholarship.

“I never thought that I would get a scholarship so it felt really good because I didn’t think they recognized this kind of work, well coming from a Court to College student, so it was nice,” Rodriguez said.

Peter Espinoza, retired judge of the Superior Court, was a student at Cerritos College in 1971 and said he had a rough transition from high school to college.

“I had a 1.4 GPA, had a lot of law enforcement contact, [and] I lost a lot of friends to prison and drugs. Somehow I survived that experience and I wandered onto the campus and I met a counselor whose name is Marcelino Saucedo,” Espinoza said.

Saucedo is now retired, but became a mentor to Espinoza.

When Espinoza was a judge, he sent people that reminded him of his rough path to Saucedo to enroll them in classes.

“I have been running this program for about 25 years, but it became formalized with a [$400,000] grant from the administrative office of the court in 2015,” Espinoza said.

He believes that it is important this program exists because “they divert people from the criminal justice system that don’t need to be there.

“They made a bad choice, they made a mistake, and there they are, charged with a felony, standing before a judge, when where they really need to be is not at jail, not in prison, they need to be in college. […] Not everybody in jail needs to be there,” Espinoza said.

Psychology major Edward Videz, $500 scholarship recipient and Automotive Engineering major Leonardo Lechuga, $250 scholarship recipient both agree that taking advantage of the resources and support offered to them is important.

“If you put your effort into it, you might be heard one day,” Lechuga said.

Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles County Joseph Porras supervises the students in C2C and is “pleasantly surprised” that the success rate of the students in the program is roughly 80-85 percent because he expected the number to be lower.

“There are certain people that come through the court system that could benefit from getting more education versus immediate incarceration and we identify those people and try to steer them toward something like the Court to College program,” he said.