Family Resource Center Makes College Dreams a Reality

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in News | 0 comments

 “I don’t know what I would have done without Simon. I wouldn’t have gotten into all of the colleges that I did without the motivation and inspiration I received from everyone at the Family Resource Center,” says Eagle Rock High School senior Dillon Dorothy.

Dillon Dorothy and Sarah Sollesa -- both of whom received extensive college-application assistance from the FRC -- recently attended their high school prom.

Dillon Dorothy and Sarah Sollesa — both of whom received extensive college-application assistance from the FRC — recently attended their high school prom.

Dillon is referring to Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services Highland Park Family Resource Center (FRC) and its Manager Simon Gee. Dillon is not alone in his deep appreciation for the comprehensive, free college-prep assistance that’s provided to Highland-Park area students, most of whom come from financially disadvantaged families that couldn’t afford to pay privately for similar services. Dillon, for example, has never known anything but extreme economic hardship and has spent the last four years on the verge of homelessness – living in a series of small, cold garages. He currently resides – with his single father – in a rented La Cañada garage.

Thanks to the FRC, area teens like Dillon are seeing their dreams of attending college transformed into reality, often accompanied by full-ride scholarships. Not only does the FRC offer tutoring in all academic subjects – including AP courses – but it also provides SAT preparation. Here’s a sampling of the FRC’s history of success over the last several years:

• Simon not only worked extensively with Dillon to craft a compelling personal statement for his college applications, but he also helped Dillon develop a strategic list of schools for which he would be a good fit. The results were impressive, as Dillon was admitted to four University of California schools, three California State universities, as well as several private institutions including Clark College, Lewis & Clark College, Wheaton College, and Willamette University.

• Dillon was so impressed with the assistance that he received from the FRC that he brought his girlfriend, Sarah Sollesa, there last year. Simon worked closely with Sarah – who also is an Eagle Rock High School senior – helping her develop a standout personal statement and researching which schools she should apply to. The acceptance letters rolled in, as Sarah was admitted to UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal State Long Beach, Lewis & Clark College, Syracuse University, and Willamette University.

• Three years ago – with extensive help from the FRC – Dillon’s older brother, Connor Dorothy, was admitted to the highly prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, accompanied by a full-ride scholarship. After completing his freshman year at MIT, Connor sent a letter to the FRC. In part, it read: “I was essentially homeless when I submitted my MIT application. When I got accepted, I had to explain to my mom where Massachusetts was, but I didn’t need to explain the full-ride part. She understood that I had the opportunity to get out of the generational poverty that surrounded us – something that she was never able to do. I just wanted you to know that – because of your support – you’ve been able to completely change a life.”

• Students who’ve completed the FRC’s SAT preparation course improved their scores – on average – by 21 percentile points.

• By the conclusion of the 2013 school year, FRC students had earned more than $933,000 in scholarship funding.

• When they initially come to the FRC, many students are on the verge of completely failing out of school. By contrast, over the course of the 2013 school year, 91% of the FRC students improved by at least grade level. Simon Gee and the tireless FRC staff have helped set numerous young people – many of whom they’ve tutored since elementary school – on a path that has forever and positively changed their lives. Some never even considered college, and now they are attending Harvard, MIT, Stanford, USC, and UCLA – to cite just a few of the college dreams that are now a reality.

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