Success Stories


Chrystel Murrieta

I remember sitting through an in class presentation on A-G requirements as a Freshman in high school stressed out of my mind, not knowing how it was that I would be prepared and eventually become a competitive college applicant.

Nearly three years later, when it came time to apply to schools, the solution to my distress came in the form of a flyer from Advance!Being a first generation student with the privilege to pursue higher education I was lost and scared but with the help and guidance of the staff/volunteers from the college counseling center I gained the resources and confidence I needed to get to the school I hadn’t even dreamed of attending.

Eva, JP, Everardo, and Erika welcomed me with open arms and the center became my second home. They spent hours on end helping me figure out where to apply, how to narrow down my options for my major, editing my essays, and even after I had finished applying they continued to help me with financial aid and scholarships.

I graduated June, 2014 from UCLA with a BA in Spanish and Community and Culture. I’m currently doing a year of service with AmeriCorps through Health Corps at Alta Med Health Services. The mission is to eliminate disparities in health care access.

I’m forever grateful to Advance! for all of their help and faith in me. Thank you, We did it!

During my senior year at Sonora HS I received the 2009 Artemisa Garcia Scholarship from Advance!. This award enabled me to go on to Fullerton College and then transfer to Cal State Fullerton. I graduated from there in 2014 with a BA in Criminal Justice.

I am so grateful to Advance!, which helped in every way, including connecting me with the Extended Opportunity Program Services (EOPS) at Fullerton College, which provides priority registration for classes along with financial support for textbooks. Advance! was there for me with my questions about college, applications, and classes. I learned so much from them, from the friendly people who work there.

The Artemisa Garcia Scholarship I earned from them both helped me afford my education and provided me an appreciation for it. I attended school full-time while working full-time. This scholarship took some of the pressure off me. I am now one step closer to my dream of working with the LA Sheriff Department.

I have passed all the exams they require and I’m now preparing for the final one, the medical exam. Then I will officially be a member of the academy for LASD. I am also in the process of joining the LA Police Department. I thank Advance! for preparing me for school and sending me off on the right path.


Janet Ontiveros


Huy Nghiem

I graduated from La Habra High School in 2008. Despite having had a competitive academic record, I was at a loss about the process of applying to college. I had no idea how to navigate the process of writing applications, collecting references and preparing my own personal letters.

Fortunately, my counselor referred me to La Habra’s Advance!, a local organization specialized for helping students to attain higher education. I met wonderful mentors and friends there who were enthusiastic to assist every step along the way. Even more notably, Advance! helped me obtain the Augustine Family Scholarship and a number of others, which definitely contributed to my college career.

With Advance!’s help, I entered the University of California, Irvine as an Honors student and successfully graduated in 2012. Now that I have started to build my professional career, I cannot help but thank Advance! and their wonderful staff who have worked tirelessly to help thousands of La Habra students over the years!

It is not an exaggeration to say that without Advance!, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have today.

In 2012, I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from Advance! I transferred to Cal State Fullerton to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

I took classes about American policing, Criminal law, Courts and the Juvenile system. I was then able to complete an internship in a law firm and expand my knowledge about immigration and our legal system. Currently, I work with the Irvine Police department.

I have had the opportunity to volunteer with Advance! and as a recipient of one of their scholarships I made sure to work harder to achieve my personal and professional goals.


Ballal Stanekzai


Vanessa Juarez

I remember walking into the career center at Sonora High School to ask for assistance. At the time, the career counselor told me to visit Advance! So I did. I was warmly welcomed by the staff. They were a tremendous help, spending time assisting me with the admissions application process, financial aid applications, and researching different universities.

I was even fortunate enough to be awarded the Tarek Captan Scholarship from Advance! I spent countless hours at the Advance! office, the environment felt like family. Staff and volunteers not only help students; they also care for and inspire one another and keep one another informed and updated on the latest educational changes.

In 2012 I graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a BS in Child and Adolescent Development with a minor in Human Services. I went back to school and graduated from the University of La Verne with a Masters Degree in Educational Counseling, with a concentration in Spanish Bilingual Bicultural Counseling and a Pupil Personnel Services Credential. Currently I work as a counselor at two community colleges.

Thanks to Advance! I gained the resources and the confidence I needed for my educational journey.

There were many times when I doubted I would be able to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. It was a long journey with many obstacles along the way, but thanks to the support of Advance! I was able to obtain scholarships and ultimately graduate as MD, MBA, MPH from UCI School of Medicine.

I will be fulfilling my dream of serving poor, low-income communities as OBGYN physician resident at UCR. I could not have done it without the support of Advance!, especially Fred Lentz, who helped me with my essays for both medical school and residency.


Lesly Martinez


Juan Pulido

I want to thank Advance! for their continued efforts in promoting higher education in our community. I was first introduced to Advance! as a senior at Sonora High School during my college admittance process. Advance! gave me the necessary tools to successfully be admitted to CSUF. In addition to providing me with insightful guidance from the viewpoint as a first generation college student, Advance! connected me with mentors who guided me and helped jumpstart my career.

Furthermore, at a time when limited college funding was available to me, Advance! helped me secure vital scholarship funds to attend and excel at CSUF. I felt very fortunate in receiving the Tarek Captan scholarship and forever will be indebted to the Advance! family.

Thanks to the continued guidance and support of Advance!, I graduated from Cal State Fullerton in May 2011 with a Business Administration Bachelor’s Degree with concentration in Accounting. Upon graduation, I was hired by Ernst & Young, LLP, a global firm providing assurance, tax, and advisory services to the global capital markets. I am currently a practicing Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and serving as Senior Assurance Associate.
I would encourage the students in attendance at “La Habra Goes to College” today to take full advantage of all of the services Advance! has to offer and use it as a resource in achieving your educational and career milestones.

Once again, thank you to Fred, Habib, JP, Eva, staff and volunteers in helping make my goals into a reality!