Heven Ambaye was born in Ethiopia. She was raised by a single mother who left their homeland for Egypt when Heven was six in hopes of sending back enough money to sustain their family of two. Heven was raised by her aunt and uncle until 2003, when she came to the United States to be reunited with her mother who had received asylum from the US government. Heven entered an LAUSD school towards the end of her 4th grade year knowing very little English. Once she entered Cochran Middle School at the start of 6th grade, she was placed in an intermediate English –as-a-Second-Language (ESL) class. Halfway through the school year she was re-classified out of ESL and placed into Honors level classes.
Despite her initial apprehension, Heven soon thrived and stood out among her peers. She started to come to afterschool tutoring and work on bettering her English scores. It was at one of these afterschool sessions that Heven mentioned that her mother and her had made a pact when coming to America that they would do whatever it took to get her to Harvard University. It was Heven’s story and her long-term goal that was the beginnings of what would eventually become the ISSS program. So many of our students at Cochran have the ambition and capabilities needed to ensure great success in higher education, they simply need the resources and planning to get them there. Heven and her middle school teachers determined that the first step in this long-term plan would be to get into a top-notch high school that could adequately prepare her for higher education. After much hard work and planning Heven was accepted to the Brentwood School on a full-ride scholarship and will start ninth grade there this fall. She says she is very excited, and nervous at the same time. She feels that this new experience is the next step in her journey to a bright future. Listening to music is Heven’s therapy, and she looks forward to playing soccer this coming school year.
Francisco Sanchez was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. He moved to the U.S. with his mother in 1999. He entered LAUSD in second grade knowing no English. As a native speaker of Spanish and Zapotec, an indigenous language from Southern Mexico, Francisco learned English as a third language. Struggling to support themselves, Francisco and his mother have moved over 40 times in the past ten years. Despite these hardships Francisco has excelled academically, especially in the area of language arts and writing. A voracious reader, Francisco was placed in honors classes in 6th grade. His writing abilities have greatly impressed a number of English department faculty members at Cochran Middle School. In seventh grade, after being encouraged by his seventh grade English teacher, Francisco entered a statewide writing contest where he wrote about how J.K. Rowling novels had greatly impacted his life. His eloquent essay highlighted the challenges he had faced in his life and how Harry Potter novels had taught him about the importance of friendship.
Hi my name is Arturo Garcia and I am 13 years old. I am currently in the 8th grade at Johnnie Cochran Middle School. My parents came from Mexico to the United States to seek better opportunities. Although we sometimes struggle, my parents work hard to provide me with opportunities and to shape my future. I am applying to independent schools so that I may have an opportunity to attend schools with smaller classes and where I can be with people with my same goals. Independent schools also have a high rate of students who go to admired universities like Harvard. I would like one day to go to Harvard and earn a doctorate in science and math. I would one day like to use my love of math and science to work for the FBI or CIA.
My name is Steve Jaramillo and I am 13 years old. I am in the 8th grade at Johnnie Cochran Middle School. I have a large family where education is very important. My two older sisters are in college and I look up to them as role models for my future. I am applying to Independent schools because I think I would have greater opportunities to take classes that I am interested in and that would better prepare me for college. I also want to be able to continue to learn about music and the arts which is an area I am very interested in. I would like to be able to attend an arts college as I hope one day to have a career in music.
My name is Jose Rempola and I am 13 years old. I am an 8th grader at Cochran Middle School. I am the middle child between two sisters. We live with my mom who has worked hard to raise us by herself. All of her hard work motivates me to work harder at school. I am applying to independent schools because I want a better future for myself and my family. I also don’t want all of my families’ struggles to go to waste as they have worked to provide the best for me. I am not sure what career I am most interested in but I believe by going to an Independent school I will be more exposed to different opportunities and professions which will help me decide my future for college and after.