The unsung heroes of Saddleback College

Picture by Alex Bloom.

Partners In Algebra was created fifteen years ago to help those from struggling communities toward higher education.

Saddleback College often serves as the starting point for many. From the students entering high school to those returning to learn, Saddleback can serve as a springboard toward their desired career.

Even with the benefits that Saddleback brings to its students, it does not guarantee anything. Time, dedication, and effort are still required to be able to transfer.

Many of the students that attend Saddleback College are first-generation students. Some may come from minority backgrounds; their families have struggled to reach a higher education. These students still face the difficulties found in college courses.

This reason, Partners in Algebra, was created. Founded and continued today by Saddleback Professor Carmenmara Hernandez Bravo, it has been a saving grace for students.

“I open it because I figure it will be for anyone who is a first-generation college student economically disadvantage.” Said Carmenmara. The goal of this project was to help disadvantaged students to transfer from Saddleback since these students faced a harder climb to success.

“Many of the Latin community didn’t transfer because of math. So we started with math, but then we could see that they also wanted to prepare for English and biology, and chemistry, and everything, so I opened it for all subjects. So we have mentors in every subject in this community.” Said Carmenmara.

According to Carmenmara, the mentors for Partners in Algebra are various. I am ranging from Saddleback staff to members of the community willing to provide their experiences to former mentees of Partners in Algebra.

A continuous addition of subjects has allowed Partners in Algebra to grow and provide more benefits. Their goal expands to ensure transferring for the mentees.

Yet, the mentors don’t just help their mentees with college courses. They also help their mentees preparing for the future.

“It’s one thing to help them; it’s another to help them with resumes and their future.” Said David Bugay, one of the mentors for Partners in Algebra, and teaches business at IVC. Bugay helps the mentees from Partners in Algebra with college interviews and essays, providing them a great start during the transferring process.

“Either you transfer or you transfer. No other choice.” Said Carmenmara. Most students that Carmenmara and her mentors oversee in Partners in Algebra transfer to a UC or private schools, leading the mentees to a secure future ahead of them.

Partners in Algebra wants to provide the best possible outcome for the mentees. Carmenmara pushes UC and private schools for that very reason.

If the mentees want to become teachers, private, and UC schools, provide plenty of opportunities to be a teaching assistant. This will allow these students to start teaching or have a career right out of the gate.

None of this is done for personal recognition; all the mentors do this to help mentees. All that Carmenmara and the mentors ask in return is an invitation to their mentee’s graduation. A reward worth all the time and effort.