College Decision Day is May 1st. And a group of students who never imagined they'd be going to college now have multiple offers. They credit an after school program called " Leaders in Training . "
Irving Pena has some big news. "I got a full ride to the University of Michigan this past weekend."
College acceptance letters are pouring in for him and the other students who are committed to this after school program. "Me and my family did get a little emotional because I'm the first one going to college from my family."
Irving Pena and every student attending Leaders in Training will be first generation college bound. And that's the only requirement to be a part of this group. Founder Erica Mosca says, "It's students who want to be the change in their community and understand their success will help others so they're committed to being here."
And it's a big commitment--a lifetime to be exact.
Students who want to participate in Leaders in Training come to meetings once a week for 4 years of high school. They stay in touch during their 4-year college career. And they commit to giving back to their community as alumni. Why would anyone do it? They do it because of Erica Mosca, the founder.
A first-gen college student herself, Erica walks these students through the daunting college prep world. Her program offers leadership training, help with SAT and ACT prep, and even provides a college counselor to help with financial aid and college applications. The program is free to any student whose parents didn't go to college.
Erica says , "This breaks generational poverty and ensures people from the community can be leaders in their own community."
Leaders like Odalys Vega--who is headed to UNR. She's the only legal U-S resident in her family. So she knows she has opportunities her siblings do not have. "My mom says there is nothing in your way. You just have to do it. So I'm doing it. I'm trying."
All of these students say college seemed out of reach before they joined Leaders in Training. Then slowly, they began to believe in themselves.
"Being surrounded with kids every Tuesday that are going to college, that have a vision that have a dream inspires me to do more."
Erica Mosca started
Leaders in Training
with her own money in 2012.
The program is so successful, it's now funded by the United Way.
There are currently 150-students from 18-different high schools taking advantage of the free after-school program.