At the Hub we’re often surrounded by other like minded professionals. We use this space for collaboration, business development and tag teaming…with other entrepreneurs. This month, we’d like to introduce you to the woman who is working one on one with first generation high school kids – and change their lives.
Meet Angelica Hernandez. A mover and shaker, Angelica makes her daily IMPACT (no pun intended) as the program manager at REACH, an experiential education program for motivated high school students from California’s Santa Barbara County that prepares them to take control of their future. REACH stands for Resilience, Education, Adventure, Community, and it works to prepare students for lives of purposeful action, continuous learning, and the courageous pursuit of opportunity.
As the program manager, Angelica is able to equip her students with tools and experiences to help guide them through life, post high school. What exactly does this mean? Sierra Mountain adventures, Yosemite National Park treks, programming within their high school….and more!
Her passion and involvement for giving back to her community started at an early age. A Santa Barbara native, she was involved with a variety of organizations that helped her grow as a leader, such as Future Leaders of America, an organization that provides youth empowerment program in our public schools, Just Communities, an organization that offers cultural competency training to organizational leaders, education seminars for the general public and leadership training institutes for students and teachers, as well as Montana Yellowstone Expeditions (now known as REACH). As the first of her generation to attend college, providing support has always been an important part of her life. Leading up to her employment with REACH, she was an educational consultant for the Santa Barbara Unified School District Program for Effect Access College.
Here’s how it works: Students are accepted during their junior year in high school and remain in the program for 2.5 years. To kick off their time, they participate in a college tour road trip where they explore California. After that, they participate in school programming focused on skill building opportunities in education, career exploration, personal development, financial literacy, and community involvement. To kick off the second year, they go backpacking in the sierras, rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, and complete their fellowship with a 20-day trip to Ecuador.
Angelica mentions that one of best parts of the program is watching students perspectives’ change as they learn what their options are and what’s available to them post high school. Just recently, at the end of one of the college tours, several students who didn’t think college was an option or had decided it wasn’t for them, decided to apply.
Additionally, moving students into an environment that doesn’t involve a “screen,” has proven to be instrumental in helping them have an experience that better aids to their decision making process. When your mind is clear and you’re not distracted by social media, you’re able to make better decisions. “We are constantly on our phones or in front of a screen. We hardly appreciate the outdoors as much as we should. An organization that highlights and allows for students to live experiences in the outdoors is incredibly healthy and rewarding for mental health,” said Angelica.
Angelica knew early on the importance of giving back to her community and found that the best way to do that was to work with youth directly, within organizations.
When not helping change the lives of high school students, she enjoys spending time with her English Bulldog, Sir Brixton. Her favorite book is The 4 Agreements by Miguel Ruiz, a very practical guide to personal freedom.
Introduce yourself if you see Angelica around, or to the many high school students you’ll see circulating in and around her office – The Impact Hub is where many of the college planning sessions take place!
Written by Andrea Holland