Samuel Ponce: Promise Spotlight

From low-income housing to a double major

Samuel Ponce grew up in low-income housing, in an environment where higher education was unobtainable. As a result, he didn’t see much of a future for himself.

“I didn’t care much about my education because I didn’t think I’d ever go to college,” Samuel says. But, as often happens, the influence of a solitary teacher made all the difference. In his case, his social science teacher at Santa Paula High School got him interested in the field of psychology, which inspired Samuel to get a college education.

His parents were supportive of his decision, though their limited finances meant they could do little more than encourage him. Thanks to the Promise Program, his enrollment fees were covered.

“To me, the Promise was a second chance for me to start over, work hard and be successful,” Samuel said.

Samuel Ponce

Since coming to Ventura College, he has immersed himself in the resources and opportunities available, including the First Year Experience Program and Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), which help low-income and educationally-disadvantaged students pursue higher education and helps high school graduates transition into their first year of community college.

“These programs gave me the structure and motivation to be successful in my first year of college,” he says.

Samuel has also become involved in extracurricular programs on campus, as well as within the larger Ventura County community. Currently, he is the Ventura College senator of Internal Affairs for the 2017/2018 academic year, a First Year Experience Peer Leader, and a student ambassador with the VC Foundation, Student Connect Center and the Outreach Department.

He is also the vice president of the Ventura College Psychology Club where he serves as an activist on topics in mental health, and is a proud leader/sub-coordinator for the Club’s Clothesline Project, which brings awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“Through these involvements I’ve been able to clearly see where I’d like to take my education and what I’d like to do with my life,” he says.

Samuel is now pursuing a double major in Psychology and Photojournalism. Ultimately, he wants to work with the federal government providing psychological services and to be a “voice for the voiceless.”

“I specifically want to focus on homeless veterans, the LGBTQ community and environmental justice,” Samuel says, adding that, as a Latino, he particularly wants to represent members of the Hispanic community.

“Without the VC Promise and the Southern California Edison Green Jobs Initiative Scholarship (which he recently received), I wouldn’t be here right now,” he says. “I would be working a job, unhappy knowing that this was it for me.”

Finally, he says, “I want to set an example for others that anything is possible.”