College Access STEM Student Feature… Meet Kimberly

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Escalera STEM is a national college and career readiness program in partnership with UnidosUS designed to prepare high school juniors and seniors for pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Escalera serves over 950 students nationwide with 91% of these students identifying as Latino, 87% as first generation college attendees, and 84% from working class households. Escalera’s impact includes a 100% high school graduation rate, 70% internship completion, and an impressive 93% rate of enrollment in a post-secondary educational institution.

Kimberly Vasquez is a high school junior enrolled in our program. She was born
and raised in East Los Angeles. She is the youngest of four and will be a
first-generation college graduate. Currently, she manages the finances of the
Associated Student Body at her school and volunteers at the library. Despite her
busy schedule, she still manages to pull an impressive 4.3 GPA. Kimberly knew
she wanted to study medicine and conduct medical research based on the
challenges in her neighborhood. She took an immediate interest in matters of
medicine and immigration and their impact on low-income and immigrant
families, specifically access to health care. While at USC College College Prep, Kimberly has been conducting research on how medicine affects the nation, especially those without health insurance. She wants to continue this work and will apply to local universities this coming year. Kimberly has started exploring different types of colleges and financial options thanks to her Escalera instructors.

Kimberly stated, “I like the exposure I get in Escalera to college information, especially the guest speakers. I like hearing about the guest speaker’s experiences. Every speaker has been interesting, and they provide real life advice on how to overcome problems we may encounter in college.” PUENTE instructors are working to ensure that Kimberly continues her path to college with a supporting internship in a local hospital to continue learning about health care.

Thank you to eveyone that has supported our Escalera program!

Employer Community Fund of Boeing

Union Bank


Southern California Edison

Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation