A Student Who Dreamed; A Life That Was Redeemed

Sol is an 18-year-old high school graduate who attends San Diego State University. Her mom and dad came to the United States from Mexico, and she was born in California. Her parents have no formal education, but her mother wanted her four daughters to have a better life than she and her father had. Spanish was the only language spoken in their home. 

Sol’s next oldest sister was diagnosed as a Special Needs student because she could not keep up with her classmates. But her challenge was not a mental, physical or emotional disability. She simply couldn’t comprehend English. 

By the fourth grade, Sol realized it was important for her to master English. That would open the door to more options in her life. By the end of that year, she was proficient in English, and her educational journey was on a fast track. 

Sol’s favorite disciplines are science and English.  She loves logic and writing.  What a combination!  Early on, as a child, she faced a decision. Her mother was encouraging her to learn as much as she could, and to accomplish as much as she desired. But her father saw no need for formal education.  He thought daughters should be homemakers—nothing more, nothing less. 

Her parents couldn’t earn enough money to care for the six children, so on a regular basis, they took their own possessions to a swap meet, and sold them to earn money for food, clothes and rent.  Sol cried when her most prized possession—a doll given to her by her grandparents—sold for just one dollar. 

Through that painful moment she learned that abundant life is not what a person has, but what a person knows, and who a person becomes. 

By her sophomore year, Sol became involved with Talent Search, part of the TRIO program administered by the U.S. Department of Education, and offered through Lutheran Social Services of Southern California. Her counselor at the D.O.E., Ms. Padilla, works for LSS, and her office is in Sol’s San Diego high school. 

Talent Search engages students like Sol with information about colleges, urges the students to dream of what they want to do, and then assists them in putting together an educational strategy that helps their dreams become reality. Over time, Sol focused on the science side of her brain and also the compassion side of her heart. She is majoring in biology, and after graduation from college, will enter medical school to become a licensed physician, practicing OBGYN. 

There were three pivotal points in Sol’s journey from a Spanish-speaking elementary school student, to becoming a bilingual scholar embarking on a college curriculum. First, she chose to learn English so her world of contacts, networks and resources could be dramatically increased. Second, she accepted her mother’s dream of a better life for her, and rejected her father’s narrow perspective that life is difficult, and all anyone can do is hope to survive.   

Third, Sol allowed Ms. Padilla to challenge her, motivate her, expand her horizons and increase her expectations of what hard work, serious study and disciplined research can offer to a dedicated student. Talent Search was a safe space within which to ask questions, and seek guidance and support regarding her goals and dreams. That contact paid off in many ways. One major accomplishment was her applying for, and receiving, a $20,000 Dell Scholarship! 

Sol says, “Ms. Padilla always motivated me in my dreams for the future. I never felt judged; I always felt supported. Thank you so much, LSS, for helping me in so many ways.

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Ambassadors are short-term volunteers who open doors for our organization in the community, introducing new people at our bi-monthly Fostering Community Care event. These are one hour awareness events only (no solicitations are made) to expose people to the great work of LSS Community Care. To become an Ambassador here are your responsibilities:
  1. 1 – Attend at least one Fostering Community Care event during the calendar year
  2. 2 – Host or invite and bring 10-15 guests to one Fostering Community Care event within 3 months of your attending one yourself.
  3. 3 – Inform your invited guests of what the Fostering Community Care meeting will be about, and let them know that they will receive a follow up call from the organization
  4. 4 – Ambassadors will complete their commitment after bringing 10-15 persons within the 3 month time period. An Ambassador has the option to complete after one term, continue for another 3 month term or move into another role on the team.
Become an Ally

Allies are community members who want to be in a supportive, intentional, befriending relationship with an individual or family working to get out of poverty.

Other ways to help the Southern California Family Support Initiative
  • Be an Ad-Hoc Ally – share your special skill or talent
  • Be a member of your local Community Leadership Team
  • Assist with weekly Child Care/Children’s Programs
  • Be a Community Spokesman – talk about the initiative and recruit others to join
  • Financially Sponsor a Family Leader
  • Facilitate/assist with Training Our Leaders and Allies
  • Behind-the-scenes work – internet research, graphic design, writing
We are actively seeking individuals and groups to be a part of our on-going mission to serve those in need. LSS administers over 50 specialized programs and services throughout the Southern California region. Contact your nearest LSS Center to hear about the local opportunities they have available.
Be a positive role model
Give back to others and help change lives
Transform communities
Spend your time doing something rewarding
Meet new people
Have fun
Learn new skills, share your talents, build your resume

The life you change most – may be your own!