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Photo courtesy of Brian Diep

Non-profit LEAF organization helps underprivileged students

The transition from high school to college can be overwhelming for some students. The dramatic change in lifestyle can have a wide array of effects on people, inducing potential social and academic problems for those unprepared. San Gabriel alumnus Brian Diep, now a student at UCLA, recognized this as a problem and helped establish the Leadership and Education for All Foundation (LEAF) to reach out to high school seniors and help prepare them for the move to college.

LEAF provides help to incoming underprivileged college freshman in two main ways. Their scholarship program provides funds to mentees to help pay for tuition and the cost of living, among other things. Their mentorship program consists of student mentors, chosen and trained by the LEAF leadership staff, and mentees, incoming freshman who would benefit from the aid of a mentor. The mentorship program provides those enrolled not only with mentorship but with lifetime access to services such as test preparation and the LEAF professional network, which, when fully developed, will have leaders in a myriad of fields prepared to assist the mentees. Diep, the Vice-President of LEAF, specifically wants to reach out to students from the San Gabriel Valley. Having been one himself, he feels that students from this area are at a big disadvantage when it comes to transitioning to college.

“I wouldn’t necessarily put students in our area in the most at-risk category, but I think that our students are underprepared compared to more elite high schools,” Diep said. “While I believe everybody in SGHS is capable of achieving anything, I feel like we have to play catch up for a year before we can compete with our peers.”

Senior Thinley Huang, who plans on applying to the LEAF program, hopes that she can ease her transition into college by spending her freshman year at UCLA as a mentee.

“I eventually decided that I wanted to apply because it was really cool to me how they had mentors to help students adjust,” Huang said. “One of my biggest fears about college is that I will fall behind or not be able to adjust well, so I felt like this would be pretty good to help me adjust and receive whatever help I need.”
Although the program is currently only for incoming UCLA freshman, the organization intends to expand to other universities in the near future. Incoming college freshmen attending UCLA can apply to be mentored by LEAF at www.leafnp.org until May 31.

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