Current student, Rebecca Sapien Buenrostro had no idea what college was all about until she attended the former Santa Ana College (SAC) 5th Grade Tour Program during the 1993-94 school year. Various 5th grade classes from the Santa Ana Unified School District participated in the tours and learned what a college education could do for them, their families and their futures.
Many of the children, like Rebecca, arrived at SAC not knowing what the day would hold for them. They only knew they were going on a field trip – a field trip that could potentially change their lives, someday.
Throughout the tour, the children were shown the entire campus: where to go for information, classrooms, the cafeteria, the Tessmann Planetarium, etc. The students at SAC talked to the children and told them that they could be anything they wanted to be and that there were many people willing to help them succeed. From then on, Rebecca knew that she would become a college student and nothing would stand in the way of that goal.
“I won’t let any statistic tell me that I won’t fulfill my goals,” stated Rebecca. “I am a single mother and it kills me inside when I see young parents stop their education just because they have kids – my daughter is my inspiration.”
Rebecca, who wants someday to become a middle school math teacher, enrolled at SAC with great pride because she grew up in Santa Ana.
“Throughout the years that I attended Santa Ana schools, they never stopped encouraging college,” said Rebecca. “I’m proud to be at SAC because it is in my community. Plus, SAC has a great teacher education center.”
“I want to show my daughter, like SAC showed me, that she can be anything she wants to be,” expressed Rebecca.
Once she receives her associate’s degree from SAC, Rebecca hopes to attend California State University, Fullerton. In the meantime, she will continue to work, go to school, care for her daughter, and stress the importance of education to others, especially single parents.
“I remember taking a picture at the end of the tour,” stated Rebecca. “Later when I received it, it said ‘I am a future Rancho Santiago student’ around the frame.”
She is now a student at Santa Ana College, formally known as Rancho Santiago College. It looks like her first experience with college turned out to set the path for her future.
A program called KinderCaminata has now taken the place of the 5th Grade Tours. It has the same concept as the former tours, however it concentrates on exposing children to college at a much younger age…kindergarten.