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January 2015 Junior Alumnus of the Month

CHCI Program: 2012 R2L NextGen

School: San Diego State University

Hometown: San Marcos, California

R2L NextGen junior alumnus Rocio De La Cruz considered her participation in the Washington, D.C. program as a breakthrough experience. Before CHCI, Rocio saw herself as an average student with average goals. Her priority was to help make her parents proud by graduating from high school and going to college. As the second oldest in a family of five and the first in her family to go to college, Rocio navigated the college preparation process with the support of various groups in high school. For Rocio the R2L NextGen program encouraged her to step outside of her comfort zone and help inspire others, including her siblings.

While she was on a college track, Rocio did not consider herself actively involved in her community. She applied to the CHCI R2L NextGen program to learn more about the government and help herself and her family make informed decisions. “Before this experience I didn’t give much thought to what was happening in the country and in my own community. After participating in the program I realized that I could be part of the change,” explained Rocio. This program was a catalyst for Rocio, and she returned to her community energized to be more active.

Since her participation in R2L NextGen, Rocio has increased her political efficacy, volunteering as a poll worker during the 2012 presidential elections, organizing a fundraiser for her local AVID program to raise money for college scholarships, and volunteering at a local elementary school with a group of first and second graders.

Participation in R2L NextGen gave her a healthy confidence boost. “I am a lot more confident in myself and my capabilities,” shared Rocio. She credits CHCI for helping her believe that she was capable of moving out and going to college. “CHCI helped me understand the importance of stepping outside of my comfort zone. If it weren’t for CHCI I would have stayed in my home town instead of experiencing life outside of my home and becoming independent,” explained Rocio.

Today Rocio is a sophomore at the San Diego State University where she plans to major in kinesiology with an emphasis in physical therapy. In addition to her academic goals, Rocio plans to continue to giving back by returning to her community and serving as a mentor to students who need support them on their journey to college. CHCI is proud to have Rocio as part of the CHCI Familia!