Pictures by Carla Garcia
High school is a very difficult time
in a young person’s life. Higher academic expectations coupled
with hormonal changes and the need to fit in sometimes leads to
making choices which negatively affect a person’s future.
Drugs, teen pregnancies, or simply feeling overwhelmed causes many
high school students to drop out. Luckily, there are many outreach
groups which work to keep teenagers in school. One program at Santa
Monica College which helps teenage girls look towards the future
and continue their education is Little Sister Day.
Little Sister Day was the brain child
of myself, Carla Garcia, secretary of the Women’s College
Student Association (WCSA) at Santa Monica College. In my opinion,
“Little Sister Day is a program that offers high school students
a taste of college life without leaving the security of high school.
I was inspired by such programs as “Bring your Daughter to
Work Day” and “Big Brother/ Big Sister mentoring programs”.
The combination of these two programs inspired the creation of Little
Jordan High school was selected because it was my Alma Matter, because
I knew people at the school already, and because Jordan has the
2nd highest drop-out and teen pregnancy rate in all of LAUSD. The
pregnancy and drop out rate is 48% in all lower income areas where
these students live. When these students enter high school the average
graduating class is about 300 students and by the time they graduate
there are 150 students including those who don’t walk on stage.
The rest of the students drop out along the way, some even during
9th and 10th grade.
The students were selected by me,
Ms. Britt, Jordan’s college counselor, and by their teachers.
The students range from 14 to 18 years old and were from the two
main cultures that attend Jordan High School.
On the day of the event, March 11,
2004, students arrived at 9:10 am and they met their sisters, who
were selected for their similarities not because of their ethnic
backgrounds. Students arrived on a charter bus donated by city Councilwoman
Ms. Janice Hahn. Then the girls left for classes until 11:00am.
The classes ranged from Art, Women’s History class with Dr.
R Manoff, Nutrition 1 with Prof. C Gonzales, along with other classes.
After 11:00 am students had lunch and attended a workshop given
by the Black Collegians Club (BCC), an associate to the WCSA. In
the workshop the focus was on black women and how they are portrayed
in the media. The workshop was given by the BCC’s advisor
and counselor Ms. Sherri Bradford.
Ms. Janice Hahn City Council Woman
After lunch the students left with
their sisters and attended another class or attended a tour of Santa
Monica College, which showcased the areas most useful to them as
incoming students, such as the Admissions Office, our beautiful
new Library, the Bookstore, and the Counseling Center. After the
tour the students returned to The Women’s College (TWC) where
the Big Sisters said good bye, traded information with their Little
Sisters, and parted ways after they were given packages supplied
by the WCSA which included information about the clubs involved
that made this program possible. The same package had information
about the feminist majority foundation which were nice enough to
give us information about their campaign for women’s choice,
emergency contraceptive, women’s rights all over the world,
ecofeminism, and other programs that they are currently working
After that the girls left the TWC
and headed towards their bus. I mentioned to one of the girls that
we might continue to develop this project and try to bring and offer
it once a year during Women’s History Month but try to include
boys the next time. I was shocked and satisfied when I heard that
a few girls will be attending Santa Monica College next semester.
I would like to thank Counsel Women Janice Hahn for her deeply appreciated
help. I would also like to thank Ms Sherri Bradshaw and the entire
BCC for having us at the workshop, Ms. Maria Martinez and the president
of ENLACE for their help recruiting students, Ms. Eileen Rabach
and Ms. Ricky Manoff for their help since the beginning of the project,
Ms. Christina Preciado for guidance and persistence, and to all
the big sisters who helped with the project. I would like to give
a special thank you to the principal of Jordan High School, Mr.
Counsel, and to the students of Jordan High for their cooperation.
And a special thanks to Ms. Britt for helping facilitate this trip.