One Hundred Percent of the Nicholas Academic Centers’ 2011 Graduates Plan to Attend College in the Fall

 Contact: Robert G. Magnuson 949.290.9382 



Annual Graduation Event Also Highlights NAC Alumni’s 94%

College-Retention Rate


SANTA ANA, CALIF. – JUNE 2 –All 60 of the graduating seniors at the Nicholas Academic Centers plan to attend college in the fall, a 100% rate that contrasts with 61% for Hispanic high school graduates nationwide, the Centers announced yesterday at their third annual graduation event.

 In addition, over the last two years, 94% of high school seniors who graduated from the Nicholas Academic Centers’ (NAC) after-school program and went on to four-year colleges are still enrolled in these institutions, with many excelling academically. This contrasts dramatically with nationwide trends. For example, according to the College Board, sophomore retention rates for all students are less than 80%, and only 46.8% of Hispanic college students graduate within six years.

 The NACs’ graduation celebration, held at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, honored outstanding students from Santa Ana high schools who now attend some of America’s top colleges and universities, as well as current seniors who are headed to these schools in the fall. Of the 60 NAC seniors going on to college, 30 will attend four-year schools—14 to privates and 16 to public universities. Twenty-six seniors received multiple acceptances. Among the institutions NAC seniors plan to attend are Georgetown, Haverford, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and Chapman University.

 “Our students exemplify the talent, resilience and drive necessary to succeed,”  said Dr. Corina A. Espinoza, the Centers’ Executive Director. “These are the attributes that the Nicholas Academic Centers strive to foster with each student who comes through our doors.”

 “The Centers work with hundreds of students and push them to achieve at a level they might not think possible,”  said Dr. Henry Nicholas, Co-Founder and former CEO of Broadcom Corp., who partnered in 2007 with retired Superior Court Judge Jack Mandel to establish the Nicholas Academic Centers. “It’s a demanding program and it works.”

Two recent NAC graduates served as Masters of Ceremonies for the June 1 event—Ana Aguilar, Class of 2009, who attends Denison College in Ohio, and Alexis Rodriquez, Class of 2010, who attends Wabash College in Indiana. Ervin Meneses, a member of this year’s NAC graduating class who plans to attend Union College in New York in the fall, was the featured student speaker at the event.


This year’s top achievers also include:

  • Century High School senior Wendy Martinez, who was seriously injured in a car accident in her junior year and spent five months in a wheelchair. Despite this hardship, she excelled academically and was accepted to Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.


  • Valley High School senior Melissa Arambulo, who is one of 11 children in her family. She is the class valedictorian and headed to UC Berkeley.


  • Santa Ana High School senior Ana Rodriguez, who served as a U.S. Congressional Page and will be attending Georgetown University in the fall. After college, she plans to attend law school and pursue a career in politics.

Each of these NAC graduates is the first in her family to attend college.



About the Nicholas Academic Centers

Located in downtown Santa Ana and on the campus of Valley High School, the Nicholas Academic Centers serve hundreds of Santa Ana Unified School District students on a daily basis throughout the school year and summer, providing them with tutoring, social support, and individual college guidance. Since the first Center opened in 2008, more than 150 students have gone on to college and have received more than $2 million in scholarships and financial aide. The NAC staff works closely with school principals, teachers and guidance counselors, as well as with students’ families and community leaders. The Centers are funded by the Henry T. Nicholas, III Foundation and modeled on the tutoring and mentoring program Judge Mandel started before retiring from the bench. Become a fan of the Nicholas Academic Centers on Facebook. 

Ashley Temm