30 Jan One Student. One Mentor. Life Changed.
The LA Promise Fund is invested in bringing high-impact opportunities to our students. These opportunities take different forms. For Erik Mateo, the opportunity was a connection he made with our Chief Development Officer, Claudia Keller. Their connection changed the course of his life.
By Erik Mateo
I first met Claudia during my senior year (2014) at Manual Arts High School when she was forming the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) to promote the new St. John’s Clinic on campus. I was one of the first members to join the Board. I didn’t realize then that joining it would influence my life in such a deep and meaningful way.
I still remember, after one of our meetings, Claudia asking me what college I was going to attend. That was the first time anyone asked me anything about college. That simple question sparked a new curiosity in me. What was I going to do after high school? I started researching different colleges in California, and I started meeting regularly with Hugo Tapia, one of Manual’s college counselors, to learn about the application process and anything (and everything) else I could think of.
I chose to attend San Jose State University (SJSU). My journey started through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) summer bridge program. Summer bridge is a five-week transition program where students take classes and live on campus with fifty other students. There I found my family away from home through my other classmates and mentors who were Resident Advisors (RAs) during the program.
During my first year, I joined the Residence Hall Association (RHA). My second year, I ran for Vice President of Communication and National Communication Coordinator (NCC). Claudia wrote my letter of recommendation, and I got the position. There, I sharpened my leadership skills and learned how a business functions through member acquisition, finance, legislation, and much more.
During my second year, I pushed myself and ran for President of Associated Students at SJSU. Claudia and the LA Promise Fund supported me and inspired me through that journey, as well. I was now more confident, empowered, and ready to influence others and improve the campus. Unfortunately, I did not get the position, but I became an RA and student mentor for EOP the years following. Through EOP, I was able to give back to first generation college students and guide them in their transition from high school to college.
I am now in my final year, which I’m completing as I build my own marketing and consulting agency, helping small businesses incorporate the tools and services of the internet into their business activities in the U.S. and Mexico while working to add other emerging economies.
Claudia has been a true mentor and blessing through my journey. I cannot express enough how much Claudia has shaped my life and future from the young adolescent to this mature young man I have become. Many of the achievements I have been able to accomplish would not have been possible without her support in the background, alongside the LA Promise Fund.
Today, you can find me working as the communication intern at the LA Promise Fund alongside Emma, the Communications Director. I’m giving back because I know firsthand the amazing work and benefits this organization is providing to the students in the community where I grew up.