Paul PaoPao and Vu Nguyen are mentors for the grant-funded program called Transitional Youth Academy (TYA) through the Interfaith Community Service. The mentors take pride in the success of the program.
“Last year, we had a 100 percent graduation rate from the seniors we were tracking since their freshman year – which is pretty astounding,” said PaoPao.
The program’s rate is compared to the 80 percent average high school graduation rate for the city of Oceanside.
PaoPao also pointed out that 100 percent of those who graduated go on to college.
Graduating seniors and twins Micah and Alijah Holder are attending San Diego State and Stanford University, respectively, and each has a football scholarship.
“Without them, there’s no telling where I’d be because they’ve been helping me out since day one,” said Micah Holder.
Those with TYA said what makes their program unique is that it’s housed on the Oceanside High School campus, so there is constant interaction with students.
“We are working before hours and after hours. We’re working on weekends,” said PaoPao. “We’re not only working with the child themselves, but with the family, too. Even though there maybe academic problems and behavioral problems, we also look at the family. I think that’s what separates our mentoring with other agencies.”
The high school’s assistant principle Teresa Collis said she can see the difference.
“Many students come from a position that they’re not comfortable trusting,” Collis said. “We get to work with students that have learned to trust us and accept our help.”
Nguyen said the constant communication makes an impact with the students.
“We’re able to see them every day. Anytime there’s issues that come up we’re able to talk to them and guide them through,” he said.
The biggest thank you the mentors said they could ever receive is that the students would return.
“One day they walk into the office and tell Vu or myself that they’re in need of employment and that they want to do what we’re doing and that’s give back and help these kids like we’re helping them,” said PaoPao.
Twenty seniors will be graduating this year and all are headed to college. About 200 students from Oceanside High take part in the program each year.
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