Meet Christian Ramirez (Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church). Only a few years ago, Christian was living in poverty-torn El Salvador. In his neighborhood, local gangs, drug cartels, and organized crime drove violence levels so high that families were essentially fleeing warfare.
When Christian was 15, he immigrated with his mother and sis to Los Angeles, but, because of financial hardship, the struggle continued. To earn income, he needed a job. And he needed an education. But how would he afford it? Books, supplies, tuition, transportation: the dream of going to college seemed impossible--especially for an English Language Learner.
Fortunately, Ascending Lights was there for Christian.
When we first met, Christian was a committed leader at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, volunteering weekly as a teaching assistant in the Confirmation program. He says that he identified with the obstacles so many underserved kids face in Hollywood. “It’s a struggle for them to think about their lives, God, or deeper things," he says. "At church we try to get kids working together and talking so they can feel like there’s a place for them— so they don’t have to feel alone.”
"At Blessed Sacrament, people see that I’m going to school, working, and not giving up. I share what I’m learning; I share my path and my story. And I know that they’re proud of me.”
At Ascending Lights, we helped Christian enroll at East Los Angeles College. We covered his costs, matched him with a mentor, provided leadership training, and removed the obstacles that prevent so many students from graduating.
And the impact made on his life is nothing short of amazing.
To date, Christian has completed 96 units of coursework at East Los Angeles College. And he's on his way to earning an Associate degree and a Master Mechanic Certification.
We're proud to partner with Blessed Sacrament to support Christian. As a trained and educated leader, he's helping his church run the programs that serve the needs of Hollywood’s culturally and economically diverse community.
"Thank you!" Christian says. "With a college education, I’ll be able to get a job, help my church, and provide for my mom. If it weren’t for Ascending Lights, I don’t know where I’d be. But, today, I’m in school, I’m moving forward, and I’m not stopping!"