Across the country, college students have flocked home for winter break. Welcomed back by family and friends, they bask in the glow of their respective homes, a little older, a little wiser and most, with the renewed sense of self that higher education brings.
Sonoma’s young adults are no different. Here, we chronicle six students who recently appeared on the popular SunTV show, La Ventana. This group of high achieving Latino teens were at the top of their graduating classes amassing awards, accolades and scholarships from across the Valley and the country as well. Support came from near and far including teachers, parents and administrators. Money came from the likes of Dell, Univision and each student’s college. Additional local funding came from DAR, the VFW and the CommonBond Foundation, among many others.
The six students are fast to point out that without programs like the Stand By Me Mentoring Alliance, AVID, College Bound, Summer Search and more, they might not have reached the pinnacle at which they now stand. Given that, they are eager to give back, all of them having volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club, with Nuestra Voz, at SunFM 91.3 run by CommonBond and within their new college communities.
Here then, a bit about each student.
Ahtziri Fonseca, 18
Ahtziri is a freshman at Pomona College in Claremont, California. With a major in neuroscience and a minor in Spanish, she’s a busy student but not so much that she doesn’t have time to spend time pursuing her hobby – writing poetry – and chasing down the best place for her favorite food, Asian cuisine. In addition to becoming a neurosurgeon, one of Ahtziri’s goals is to travel the world.
Irving Rafaela, 18
A freshman at University of CaliforniaIrvine, Irving wants to make a difference upon graduation so he chose sociology as his major with a minor in Chicano studies. This combination will enable him to pursue a career in counseling where he can help teens who are involved in drugs or violence get on the right path. An exceptional soccer player, Irving is at UC, Irvine on a sports scholarship. When he’s not playing soccer or studying, he’s hunting down LA’s best enchiladas.
Sandivel (Sandy) Torres, 20
Sandy is a junior, studying psychology at Dominican University in San Rafael. She loves the individual attention she gets in the small environment of her school. Upon graduation, she aspires to open her own private practice with a concentration on women. For now, she’s content to work with youth and is starting a mentoring/buddy system through the San Rafael Canal Alliance. Born in Michoacan, Mexico, Sandy’s favorite food is pozole and she loves to dance.
Miriam Magaña, 19
Perhaps the hardest adjustment Miriam realized when she entered Macalester College was to the weather in St. Paul, Minnesota. But after embracing the cold and buying a good coat, the sophomore is loving life at her small, liberal arts college where she says the environment is great and the classes are challenging. Miriam is majoring in anthropology with a focus on community global health. She anticipates attending grad school and in considering a career in women’s health. Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Miriam loves playing soccer, sharing pozole with her family and friends and traveling.
Priscilla Álvarez, 19
Priscilla is majoring in sociology at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga. Her double minor in Chicano studies and gender and women’s studies will help her pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer as she continues her education. St. Mary’s is small and one of the things Priscilla likes best about her school is the “new family” she’s now part of for the next four years. Also, an important resource for Priscilla is the High Potential program for high achieving/low income students which will help her go on to graduate school. She loves to dance and tamales are a favorite food that remind her of home. Her goal is to be on the Dean’s List.
La Ventana del Valle is a weekly television show airing every Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. on local channel Comcast 27, or streaming online at sunfmtv.com. Hosts Yazbeth Navarrete and Mario Castillo are well-known in the Valley, Navarrete from her leadership of Flowery’s PTO and work as Hispanic liaison for the Chamber of Commerce; and Castillo from his years at Vineyard Workers’ Services and his active roles at St. Francis and St. Leo’s, and as an education advocate.
La Ventana is transmitted live from a new televison studio at SunSol FMTV. Included among guests interviewed since its inaugural episode last September 21 are: school trustee Camerino Hawing; DELAC president Pilar Cruz; Mexican Consul Sandra Almazán; Sgt. Rubén Martínez of Sonoma County Sheriffs Dept.; Omar Gallardo of North Bay Organizing Project; Noris Binet of Nueva Vida; counselor Maxx Hernández; Deacon David Galeana of St. Leo’s and St. Francis; Alejandra Cervantes, ED of Nuestra Voz; don José Fernández, volunteer at Vineyard Workers Services; high school counselors Betzy Chávez and Maricela Sánchez; and Evelina Torres, ALAS graduate and local business owner.
The program also includes specials – videos by Cinthya Gamino, a student in the SVHS film and video department – and “El Sol TV en la Calle” (“The Sun Sees You in the Street”), interviews and coverage of local events.