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Op-Ed: Helping San Gabriel Valley students succeed at college

Photo by Brian Diep.


Alhambra , CA United States

As we’ve covered before, it can be challenging to transition from high school to college, especially going from the unique support system of the San Gabriel Valley to a top university like UCLA. Brian Diep knows that struggle personally and wants to make it easier for the SGV students who come after him. Here’s his op-ed about the non-profit he founded to do so.

One of the biggest priorities for San Gabriel Valley families is providing our children with the best possible opportunities to succeed in the future. We have continually emphasized achieving higher education. We have poured numerous resources into getting our kids admitted to the best universities through tutoring, mentorship and SAT/ACT test prep. There are no limits to what we give our children to get them admitted, but the question then arises: “What resources do we have for our children when they get there?”

My parents have always believed that education was the best way to break the cycle of poverty. As immigrants who fled their war-torn home of Vietnam, they’ve stressed academic, extracurricular and social success. Their motto: “Give everybody no choice but to love you.” During my four years at San Gabriel High School, I did just that. I achieved the highest grades, researched at basic science labs at City of Hope, one of only 48 comprehensive cancer centers in the nation, led multiple student organizations and set new records under my leadership.

Despite my successes in high school, I was unprepared for life at UCLA. I felt like my first two years there were met with unsatisfactory academic performances, a sentiment I shared with a lot of my graduating class. At San Gabriel High School, I had my parents feed me resources: SAT prep courses, high school mentors and wisdom based on experience. However, transitioning to UCLA presented a problem to my family – the unknown. Through no fault of their own, my parents were not able to guide me through my career at UCLA. Lacking the real world networking skills that my peers had already developed, I fell further behind and used all my energy just trying to catch up with my peers.

Now as a proud UCLA graduate, I have co-founded a non-profit organization, Leadership and Education for All Foundation, with a team of like-minded individuals who are dedicated to bridging that education gap. Our goal is to help disadvantaged students transition to their post-secondary education as smoothly as possible through three avenues: accessibility, affordability and retention. We have amassed a robust test bank and career resources, fundraised for scholarships, and developed a strong and growing mentorship program, all of which are available to our members. With these three cornerstone projects, we hope to level the playing field and have our students thrive.

Currently, our operations are exclusively dedicated to students at UCLA. As we gain more resources, we plan on growing to USC, CSULA, CSULB and more. Up to this point, 100 percent of our programs have been through our board’s personal funds and we are finding that it is impossible to fund everything ourselves. I am asking my great community for monetary or non-monetary donations to support our scholarship and mentorship programs. All the proceeds will go to the students and help fund a bright future.

If you are interested in donating, you can do so by visiting our website: www.leafnp.org. If you would like to non-monetarily donate or have any questions or concerns, please contact me at vicepresident@leafnp.org.

Brian Diep graduated from UCLA in 2015 and is currently a graduate student at Western University of Health Sciences. He is the vice president of LEAF.

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2 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Helping San Gabriel Valley students succeed at college”

  1. Linda Trevillian

    That is a very commendable program, and because Brian experienced what he’s trying to help other students avoid, there’s no reason it won’t grow bigger and stronger. But, as a longtime state university (Cal State LA) staff member who advised many students over 40+ years and recently community college (Pasadena City College) transfer adviser, I must add that there are numerous support programs at most local community colleges and universities, plus others at local high schools sponsored by universities. I have seen firsthand how EOP&S (community colleges) and EOP (universities) have made a huge difference to many students who were the first in their family to attend and graduate from college. Ujima (African Americans), discipline-based individual advisement, Upward Bound, and many more do similar work. And the universities (like UCLA in particular) are rapidly becoming much more aware of the issues that face first-time students from this population (commonly referred to as underrepresented). As universities enroll a fast-growing number of ethnic minority and other disadvantaged students, their outreach and support programs are becoming more and more impressive and comprehensive. Because my office (PCC’s Transfer Center) sponsors a number of these programs, I see firsthand the success they bring. Students should be looking around to see what is available to them. HIgh school college counselors are aware of these programs, and most local universities have outreach workers available at the high schools (both public and private) on a regular basis. There is much more help available than many students realize.

  2. Great work, Brian!