OC Register, "Nicholas Academic Centers hold alumni reunion"

The following information was submitted by Fernando Martinez, director of academic services for Nicholas Academic Center II in Santa Ana.

More than 50 recent high school graduates from the Santa Ana Unified School District, all alumni of the Nicholas Academic Centers, came together on Jan. 5 in celebration of having taken the road less traveled when they chose to attend college.

The annual event featured students from the Santa Ana community who now attend colleges across the nation, including Georgetown, Allegheny, Grinnell, UC Berkeley, and Cal State East Bay, among others. During the event, students shared anecdotes and common experiences in their chosen path to college.

Mariana de Vicenzo, a Santa Ana High School graduate and current student at Georgetown University, said that attending college on the east coast helped her “meet people from all over the world,” adding that the experience “just blows your mind because it really changes your perspective on not only your home, but also your own mentality and how you view other people and other cultures.”

Mariana is one of 150 NAC graduates now attending college, including many of the nation’s top schools. In addition, NAC alumni have earned a total of more than $2 million in scholarships and financial aid.

The centers were established in 2008 by Dr. Henry Nicholas, co-founder and former co-chairman, president and CEO of Broadcom Corporation and retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Jack Mandel.

Over the last two years, 100 percent of NAC seniors have gone on to college, compared to 61 percent for Hispanic high school students nationwide, and 96 percent of NAC graduates who attend four-year colleges are still enrolled, with many excelling academically.

By contrast, according to the College Board, national sophomore retention rates for all students are less than 80 percent, and only 46.8 percent of Hispanic college students graduate within six years.

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