Michael Jefferson – Now a College Graduate
Second Chances Start Here
East Bay College Fund Scholar Michael Jefferson couldn’t stay focused his first year of school at San Francisco State and ended up leaving to figure out what it was that he needed to do. Coaching martial arts and working in a coffee shop, Michael found himself making a nonfat latte one day when he had the overwhelming feeling that he needed to change his life.
A few minutes later, Eric Guico, from the East Bay College Fund, called to tell him about our new Reboot program to help students get back to a four-year college. It was a pivotal moment, just the right offer, and Michael latched on to the opportunity.
Reboot students make a commitment to getting at the cause of their failure and clarify the reasons behind it and what they need to do to move forward. They also enter community college and take part in bi-weekly group counseling to build their accountability. For many it can be a powerful process. For Michael, it was just what he needed.
Now, Michael is using his considerable talents and intelligence at Sarah Lawrence College where he is studying psychology and filmmaking with an emphasis in social justice. One of his goals is to bring effective strategies for social change to Oakland.
From being wait-listed at a state college in the Bay Area to gaining entrance to a premier university, Michael has worked hard to get where he is and we couldn’t be more pleased to share his story with you.
Isidro Ruvalcaba- Now a College Graduate
How I Became “Great Again”—A Reboot Story
by Isidro Ruvalcaba
In winter of 2011, I was dismissed from UC Davis. You can only imagine the kind of emotions that flew through my mind. I felt like I wasn’t myself, like I lost myself and my way of being and I was scared of continuing forward because I thought I had no support. I thought that because I had dismissed all those people who supported me, including my East Bay College Fund family, they would turn their backs on me, but I was wrong. They were there for me.
One year later in October 2012, I am in the East Bay College Fund Reboot Program. I am more confident than ever, writing and performing spoken word poetry and preparing to return to UC Davis in January. How did this happen?
I know there are many students who deal with the anxiety of dismissal on their own. But, with the help of the Reboot Program, I was able to conquer my insecurities so I could eventually return to UC Davis. The program offered me a support system. I could relate to the other Scholars who experienced similar issues. I expressed my disbelief about my situation but at the same time they held me accountable for my own success. The group let me share my poetry and helped me heal from the demoralizing situation.
Most importantly, I learned how to make the right decisions for myself. I felt the need to find myself and my own interests, instead of the plans my parents had for me. Because I was being myself, I grew philosophically and psychologically and this change led me to continue exploring. That’s when it became clear to me that Biomedical Engineering wasn’t for me; Political Science was.
I know that the other Scholars in the Reboot Program feel the same way. During our annual summer retreat, we shared our stories with the new freshmen. The freshmen got an eye-opening experience, and learned what habits and situations to avoid, in order to stay in school.
Having gone through this experience helped me see what East Bay College Fund is all about and the type of support they offer to their Scholars. East Bay College Fund pushed me to continue going to school. They pushed me to continue loving school, and they pushed me to be great again. I can only try to help others from falling into the same pit of despair or lend out my hand to those that have also fallen. I am confident that I will succeed.
The Reboot Story
Reboot is a unique program to support students to get back to a four-year college and earn their degree.
When Executive Director Diane Dodge joined East Bay College Fund she was pleased to hear of our graduation rate, but concerned for those students who had been dismissed or dropped out. Diane knew many successful professionals who had dropped out and returned to college and felt that with some support and guidance, Oakland students could do the same. She asked the board if she could develop a program to get those students back to a four-year school. Always committed to the success of their students, they agreed to give Reboot a try.
Diane and Eric called the most recent students who had left school and invited them to join. Our motto was, “we still believe in you, if you want support to get back into school we can help, but you are going to have to face your issues, and work hard. The great thing is that we will be doing it together with other students who share the same experience.” So our Reboot Program began in October 2011 with 14 scholars.
- Reboot bi-weekly group counseling
- Community college enrollment & support
- Transfer counseling
- 1:1 Mentor
- Leadership training and opportunities
- Scholarship support through graduation from a four-year school (amount depends on need)
Application & Commitment:
To enter Reboot, students must spend a day in nature with their mentor exploring underlying reasons for their past failures and clarifying their dreams and the changes needed to move forward. Then they write these lessons and goals in a letter to East Bay College Fund.
Students commit to meet with their mentor regularly, attend community college, and connect with fellow Reboot students in a bi-weekly Reboot group counseling session.
The unique student-led counseling groups are a key part of the Reboot process. At the first meeting one of the young men shared the feelings he had about being the only African American male on the block off to college and then coming back after his freshman year and not being able to find a job. He said that being with others in Reboot who understood this experience meant everything to him. He is now at SFSU with just a year to go for a degree in film.
We see Reboot as a special leadership program and expect that all students in Reboot will give back their talents and wisdom to East Bay College Fund and Oakland communities. Many Reboot Scholars share their powerful transformation stories with incoming freshmen at our annual retreats and support Crews Programs when they return to campus.
With an 80% graduation rate in our Great Expectations Program, our Reboot Program is small, and that’s the good news. With 10 Reboot Scholars of the original 14 back in school so far, we are pleased to see that Reboot is meeting a special need that is rarely addressed in persistence programs. We are so proud of the transformations, the strong voice and leadership of these students! They are an inspiration to all of us.
Each time a Reboot Scholar gets accepted back to a four-year school we have a party and a big cake of their choosing. As of Fall 2013, one has graduated from college, two are in their senior year, seven have re-entered four-year school as juniors, and four are returning next year. That’s a lot of cakes!
“After my reboot meetings I’d leave with this newfound vigor, because I knew that everybody else was going through the same thing… this gave me that edge, that extra motivation.”
– Michael Jefferson, East Bay College Fund Scholar