Friday, February 8, 2013

Barrio Writer: Natalie Sanchez Valle Shares Her Story!


We are excited to have our Barrio Writer, Natalie Sanchez Valle,share her story. We are super proud of her accomplishments and who is currently attending UC Berkeley. Look out world she is out on her feet making a difference! 


Natalie Sanchez Valle was born to two immigrant
parents on July 19th, 1992 and blessed with two adoring siblings. She had always been very shy growing up until she was accepted to Early College High School in Costa Mesa, CA, where she realized that the world was only as scary as she made it out to be. Doing everything from student council, to journalism, and being a representative in Coastline Community College’s Sustainability Committee, she aspired to learn more. This drove her far away from Orange County to Berkeley, California where she is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Sociology from the University of California, focusing her studies around conflict and violence in communities of color. In her free time she enjoys music, nature, writing and tea.

I watched the pan sizzle as the odor of waffles filled the room and people traded yearbooks and took pictures on their new iPhones. It was my last day of high school and this was the way I was spending it, cracking my knuckles, hunched over a styrofoam plate with a cold bitten waffle. I wasn’t hungry. In fact I was angry. I was frustrated. I thought the worst: having to stay in community college which was code for a trapped, cynical cycle of debt and remorse plus a part time doing half-assed service jobs until the day I had children who would grow up hating me for raising them in this boring suburban town. 

I was bitter because my dream school since I was in 7th grade had rejected me and my only chance of going away to college after graduation was on the line. After countless hours of being on the phone, my counselors broke the news to my mom and I that the admissions officer from [college whose name doesn’t matter] couldn’t do anything for me and that I would have to pay ten grand a year on tuition because of some paperwork they claimed to have never received. For the last time, I walked passed the empty cork boards and college pennants whose placement on the walls I had memorized. But unlike all the other times, this time I left with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment and discontent. My first fear was to have to face them. My peers. I didn’t want their pitiful looks or pep-talks, but that was all anyone could offer me. The first two pages of my yearbook say something to the affect of, “Have fun at college” as well as some heartfelt messages and memories. Not even half an hour after I was given the news, everyone had found out (because my school was just that small) so by the third page, people were consoling me rather than congratulating me. 

I woke up the morning of graduation with puffy eyes as I dragged myself out of bed and walked to the auditorium for rehearsal. I was feeling better as I joked and took note of the last moments I would spend in the same room as most of those people. Then I looked up at the projector with my name and picture blown up next to what would have been my plans after graduation, and all those thoughts came back and lingered as I ran down the ramp to avoid any more embarrassment. To top it all off, that summer I had a fall through with some of my closest high school friends who were less than encouraging to my already self-deprecating behavior. Whenever I’d work myself up to do something productive I would think: I’ve lost everything, so it can’t hurt to try. I know that by this sentence you are probably thinking I was an overly-dramatic teenager, and that might have been partially true, but I genuinely thought that doing well in school was my thing. I thought that being at the top of my class and getting As and outdoing my own achievements was what made me unique. 

I hate to admit that I threw tantrums after almost every school awards ceremony because three awards just wasn’t enough. But that summer I realized that what actually made me unique was my passions and personal life experience. Once I realized that, I was able to have the confidence to ask for help, to have the drive to improve and to attract positive relationships with people that would cheer me on in whatever I wanted for myself. The first week the office at my community college was open in late August of 2010, I made an appointment with a guidance counselor. After a warm hello, I introduced myself as being in a program where I had been taking community college classes during my years in high school. She smiled and signaled me to take a seat but instead I opened a purple accordion folder filled with school pamphlets and took out an excel sheet that listed all the schools I was planning to apply to and relevant information on each. My third sentence went as follows: “I plan to graduate by June and go to one of these. I have no idea how, but I’m doing it and you have to help me.” Her face told me no one had ever said that to her before. 

I shared my story to my spiritual community and by making myself available and asking whether anyone was hiring, I was able to work at an office during my time off of my full-time school schedule. I saved up enough for a train ticket to Northern California and again, by simply asking, a friend was kind enough to host me for a week while I went on college tours and got my first taste of the sweet sweet bay area air (and transportation system). I graduated with honors and was accepted to all but one college I applied to for Fall of 2011. I recall doing a little victory dance with my counselor after my last acceptance letter came in. She told me she wasn’t used to going to the community college commencements and we said our good-byes, but I was pleasantly surprised to see her with tears in her eyes as I walked along with fellow graduates of all ages all, sporting blue caps and gowns. 

If there is one message I am trying to get across, its not simply: “if I can do it, you can”. I did it not because I was “born smart” or because I had college credits on my transcript since I was 14. 

I had to actively
1) believe in myself 
2) surround myself with people that believe in me, both of which took a lot of effort and patience. 

And if you happen to be reading this right now and saying but I don’t have anyone that supports my dreams.

Hi, my name is Natalie. There, that’s one. 

Barrio Writers: College Tips By Marilynn Montano

"Now that first semester is over…wait theres' still much more absorb!"

By Marilynn Montano 


My first semester at Santa Ana College brought many great adventures from sleeping late hours and carving out the right words to perfect within my essays. I am very lucky to be placed as a Puente student for my first college semester, especially since I am first generation in my family to go to college. The Puente program at Santa Ana College aims to help gear students to prepare them into the college life and its both english fused with counseling. I learned a lot especially since high school and college are completely different so here are my college tips:


Buy a weekly or day to day agenda! This really comes in handy since you will learn that lose leaf papers always get lost or mixed up with previous day assignments. You will be organized and on top of your assignments it helps you create self discipline into how to manage your time, especially if you work. 

Your classroom syllabus is really important so don't fold it and put it off , buy a three ring binder to keep it neat and accessible at all times. (There are important test, homework, and vacation dates!)

Eating the right meals at the right time make a difference in your day, and its okay to reward yourself when    you get an A from your assignments! 

Prioritizing  your time is necessary! Track the bus routes ahead of time to arrive on time because being 20 minutes early makes a big difference, better yet if you have to print arrive an hour early since the library is always full. 

Email your instructors for any necessary clarification on assignments and always check your inbox for there might be an email notification that your class canceled or there is a change of plans for your class. 

Make sure to meet with your college counselor at least every month to make plans on your educational college plan. Ask questions concerning your career and classes. Make sure you are taking the right courses to transfer. You want to make sure you are taking the right classes and now that you have many resources available for you to use. 

Communication is key, remember they are there to help you in your educational success! So ask away!

If the homework assignment is moved to next week that doesn't mean put it off to the night before! Just do it! 

To be a better writer, always be open and welcoming to receiving critique from your peers and instructor. Push yourself and never be satisfied on the first and second draft! 

Take notes in lectures! Don't be satisfied by hearingg it all, be more involved in your studies! 

Get at least between four to five contacts from your class, trust me you will be grateful that you did, just in case you missed class that day. 

Get up to date on scholarship opportunities! Write.Edit. Submit. 

Be on the look out for free program opportunities within your career interest. 
    (Take on an internship! This looks good on your college resume.)

Do extra credit, remember these points come in handy towards midterms and finals!

Form a study buddy or group to better your motivation and it creates a positive take on you and your peers. 

Learn to separate your study time from Facebook time!
 (Notification statuses will always be there so unplug yourself form social media during assignment time!) 

Remember to breathe and relax every time you may find yourself under stress, you got lots to learn and it is all possible! 


Happy Holidays from Barrio Writers to you !