College Track Sacramento celebrates inaugural class of graduates.
Tori graduated in May from University of California, Berkeley, with a major in sociology and minor in African-American studies with plans to continue on to nursing school. She’s the first person in her family to attend and graduate from college.
Tori credits her success to College Track, the comprehensive college completion program that equips students confronting systemic barriers to earn a bachelor’s degree. The nonprofit expanded its reach in Northern California to her hometown of Sacramento in 2014. With support of partners like U.S. Bank, which has provided funding for the Sacramento chapter from its inception, now eight years later College Track Sacramento is celebrating its first class of college graduates to complete the full ninth grade to college completion track – including Tori.
After being accepted at U.C. Berkeley, commonly referred to as Cal, Tori recalls that she leaned heavily on the core themes of College Track – opportunity, choice and power.
“Once I got into Cal, the imposter syndrome hit hard but reflecting on these core values I had allowed me to step into my power and be the influential person I set out to be,” she shared. “I reminded myself that I chose Cal, and Cal is lucky to have me. That helped me regain that confidence and drive needed to navigate this campus as a Black woman.”
College Track Sacramento was with her every step of the way, helping her establish professional boundaries and navigate speaking with professors and graduate student instructors. She also took advantage of College Track workshops for professional development, resume building, interview skills, and wellness workshops. While in school, she joined the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, Kappa Chapter and was an active member of the Black Sociological Alliance, the Black Students' Health Association and the university’s collegiate chapter of the NAACP. In addition, she worked two jobs to help cover college expenses.
“Having our first class of college graduates is a tremendous milestone and partners like U.S. Bank have helped make this possible,” said Nikki Wardlaw, director of philanthropic initiatives at College Track Sacramento. “Together, we are equipping first-generation college students in their pursuit of opportunity, choice, and power.”
U.S. Bank has been a proud supporter and involved in College Track Sacramento since its beginnings in 2014. To date, the company has invested nearly $500,000 in grant funding, provided board service and hosted corporate residency days, designed to provide students with a closer look at career paths and access to executives in a variety of industries. Brian Dean, Sacramento market president with U.S. Bank, has also served on the board of College Track Sacramento for six years.
“Sacramento is not only the capital of California, but it is the fastest-growing major city in California and yet we are seeing too many young people left out of our growing economy,” Dean shared. “Getting on a path to college completion early on is critical to help future generations realize the many opportunities we have right here in Sacramento and beyond.”
Today, the program has more than 330 enrolled scholars, 93% of which will be first generation college students and 87% of which come from low-income households. Along with Tori, nine other College Track Sacramento participants have earned or will earn their college degrees this year. These graduates were celebrated during a special event in June.
Tim is one of those 330 scholars and embarked on his college journey last fall, attending University of California, Santa Barbara, to study film and media studies – with a minor in computer science. He was drawn to College Track’s commitment to helping young people find their passion and work towards earning a college degree.
During the June event, Tim spoke about the journey ahead of him.
“I promise you all here tonight, that I will make it. I will be the first person in my entire family that will attend AND graduate from a four-year university,” he shared. “I am a man of color from a low-income community, and I will succeed.”
To learn more about College Track Sacramento, visit https://collegetrack.org/communities/sacramento-ca/.
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