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Kimberly Ramirez started drinking when she was 13, then she began associating with a gang. It wasn’t until her father was shot that she realized she was following his path. Doctors were the ones who told her he was a user and, she realized, a dealer as well. He was in and out of jail, creating a childhood of chaos and poverty for her family.
Now, she is sober, and a freshman at UC Merced, but her message is broader than we might ever have guessed. “Success”, Kimberly says, is not just that she is in college on scholarship, or that she survived a tough childhood that included losing her beloved sister. Success is helping others, which she did by creating an organization called “Girls United” for middle school girls who are like her. Helping others—that’s success.
And so, 19-year-old Kimberly teaches us all one of life’s great lessons. It’s something that happens quite often when you meet SRA students who rise above. Kids, and yet, they’re so much more.
While Kimberly’s efforts are remarkable, the hard truth is this: two-thirds of low-income, first-generation college students leave college before the end of their freshman year. This is where Students Rising Above comes in.
All of our students are low-income—most live below the federal poverty level. Many do not have functional parents or if they do, their parents are often uneducated or marginalized.
SRA is a pioneer in understanding what it takes to send low-income students to college, and then enter the workforce. We provide critical financial aid, but equally vital, we provide college prep workshops, help with applications, tutoring, healthcare, mentoring, internships, career guidance, and most importantly, professional advisors to provide emotional support and academic guidance.
It works. 90% of our students earn a bachelor’s degree—nearly eight times the national average for low-income, first-generation college students.
We are proud to send Kimberly to UC Merced and we need your help to do more. This year we selected a record 111 new students into the program—but 731 students applied. We would have taken them all if we had the funds.
Your tax-deductible donation makes college a reality for students like Kimberly. Thank you for giving hope to these students who are determined to rise above.