San José Cal-SOAP Alumni Testimonials


    Elsie Carrillo | James Lick High School Alumni, Class of 2009

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    "San José San José Cal-SOAP gave me one-on-one help with filling out college applications, scholarships, and the FAFSA.  They also helped me with completing waivers for college applications and registering for the SAT.  Finally, their help in planning and editing my personal statement was an integral part of my academic success. A San José Cal-SOAP event that benefited me to my success was the personal statement writing workshop the most. It provided me with helpful tips and tricks to convey my story to prospective colleges in a concise and convincing manner.

    I attended UC Berkeley for my undergraduate studies and graduated in 2013 where I double-majored in Marine Science and Integrative Biology. Later I went on to Stanford University for graduate school and graduated in 2016 with a degree in Education and Secondary Science Teaching Credential.

    What I suggest to current San José San José Cal-SOAP students is to write a draft of your personal statement early so you have plenty of time to edit and refine. This is your opportunity to share what sets you apart from other applicants.  Consider that you are more welcome when you can bring something to the table. What unique experiences do you bring that adds diversity to their college? Also, apply to scholarships! Money should not be an issue - there is always a way!  Whether it is the Incentive Awards Program Scholarship, the Gates Millennium Scholarship or another full-tuition scholarship, make sure you set aside the time to apply.  Better to spend your time writing now then working through college later."


  • Carmen Estrada | James Lick High School Alumni, Class of 2011

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    "San José Cal-SOAP was the reason I was able to apply to college. I always knew I wanted to go to college, but I had no idea where to apply or what tests to take. They helped me each step of the way from applying for financial aid, signing up for college entrance exams, and submitting college applications.  A San José Cal-SOAP event that has benefited to my success was Cash for college. It made the greatest financial impact when I was applying to college because thanks to their help with my FAFSA application I was able to attend SJSU (San Jose State University) without paying one single cent out of my own pocket. Yup, I went to college for FFFRRREEEEEEE! Without this event I would have been lost and would have struggled to pay for college. Other great events included admissions possible, SAT/ACT drives; personal statement workshops, college fairs, and I could go on forever! Every single event helped me in one way or another and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that San José Cal-SOAP provided me with. I am now a college graduate that will be applying to medical school and I am 1000% sure I would not be here with out the help of San José Cal-SOAP.

    I have recently graduated from San Jose State University, May 2016 where I got my degree in Biology with a Concentration in Systems Physiology and a Minor in Chemistry.

    What I suggest to current San José Cal-SOAP students is to take advantage of all the resources that San José Cal-SOAP provides you with; apply to all the scholarships and summer programs that they advertise. You won't regret it! Work now and have the time of your life in college without as much debt as everyone else because you took the initiative to work hard in high school!"


  • Rafael Flores | San Jose High School Alumni

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    "San José Cal-SOAP did not only enable me to fulfill my dreams, but it also awarded me with a great network of friends, professionals, and resources to rely upon. All pre-college workshops that San José Cal-SOAP hosted benefited towards my success.

    I attended UC Davis for my undergraduate studies where I majored in Managerial Economics. Later I went on to UC Berkley for graduate school and received my degree in Business

    What I suggest to current San José Cal-SOAP students is that making it TO college is a great accomplishment and you should cherish it, it is earning your degree and fighting through the obstacles that really matters. Don't quit on your dreams, enjoy the ride, and smile at those who will doubt you :)"


  • Marilyn Nguyen | Andrew P. High School Alumni

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    "San José Cal-SOAP was my biggest resource in high school during the application cycle. Coming from a low-income, first generation family, learning how to independently navigate the educational system was really difficult. I remember feeling really overwhelmed with all the requirements, the different college choices, potential majors, tests I needed to take, FAFSA, etc. It gets overwhelming! It seems silly in retrospect, but I didn't think I would be able to get in anywhere, and that fear of failure was a discouraging factor of applying. I procrastinated on all of my applications because of this fear. San José Cal-SOAP really helped facilitate the process of applying. They consolidated all the information for me, so I knew that I was on track. They re-read and helped edit my personal statement. They gave me a scholarship to help alleviate the financial burden of my first quarter in college (that helped a lot! Thank you!).  But I think the most valuable thing I gained from being a part of the program was the encouragement to keep on going, despite those fears. I am where I am today because of that support. A San José Cal-SOAP event that benefited me to my success was attending one-on-one advising sessions that helped me with FAFSA and my personal statement. After receiving my scholarship, they also kept in contact with me to ensure I was keeping up with my schoolwork in college. I really appreciated all of the support. College was hard enough, but to do it without parental support was really stressful. 

    I attended UCLA for my undergraduate studies and graduated in 2014 where I majored in Biochemistry. Now, I am in dental school at University of the Pacific, Dugoni School of Dentistry for my DDS, and will have my doctorate within 3 years!

    What I suggest to current San José Cal-SOAP students I know this is to not be afraid to fail! There is a large difference between failing and failure, and those who are the most successful fail the most often. You really do not know what you are able to accomplish if you allow fear to get in the way. You learn so much in positions where you are the most uncomfortable. Whenever you doubt yourself, be comforted in knowing that someone else has been in your shoes and has been able to do it. You can too!

    Just do it. And if you're afraid, do it anyways."