Outside the Ivory Tower
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TO LOVE LEARNING
RECENTLY DID I START THINKING I COULD GO TO COLLEGE."
IS POSSIBLE," proclaims a poster tacked to Ernesto Guerrero's
door, which is always open to a seemingly endless stream of students,
parents, teachers and assorted visitors. Inside his small office,
banners from various universities hang above stacks of college brochures,
catalogs, scholarship details and test-preparation manuals
tools that school counselor Guerrero will use to push, prod and
propel the 126 students in this year's senior class at Elizabeth
Learning Center (ELC) to apply for college.
not an easy task, admits Guerrero, who is interrupted by a mother
and son, to whom he explains, in Spanish, a scholarship application
due the following day. Another student appears in the doorway with
a question about his transcript.
serves some 550 high school students, as well as 2,450 preschool-through-middle-
school students. For these children of working-poor Latino parents
in Cudahy, in southeast Los Angeles, the thought of attending college
is remote at best. But ELC has been remarkably successful; last
year, 110 of its 125 seniors were accepted into four-year schools
(three came to UCLA) and community colleges.
Center for Mental Health in Schools and its Center for Healthier
Children, Families and Communities helped establish ELC as an Urban
Learning Center, promoting greater family and community involvement
in helping children learn. The College Center, set up with UCLA's
help two years ago, is creating a "cultural change" among
students unaccustomed to thinking about going to college and among
parents who hardly understand the concept, Guerrero says.