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 Event Encourages Students to Go from Probation to College

Hundreds of young people who have had contact with the juvenile justice system found inspiration and resources Aug. 7 at the seventh annual Passport to Life Career and Education Expo.

Through speeches and workshops at San Diego City College, the youth heard stories from educators, law enforcement personnel, and other students about how to overcome obstacles and find resources.

Two former Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) students who now attend San Diego City College took part in one of the workshops to encourage others to consider college. The students, Felipe and Eduardo, are part of a mentorship and support program known as Parker Scholars that grew out of the event to help students succeed in college.

Two years ago Felipe attended Passport to Life as a student and listened to others talk about how important college is. He said it's fulfilling to now be the one inspiring others to consider college.

"I'm happy to be planting seeds in their brains right now," he said.

The mentorship and support that comes with the Parker program has been a big help, Eduardo said.

Felipe and Eduardo were part of a workshop led by Tavaris Ray-Franklin, who does outreach for San Diego City College. Ray-Franklin shared his story of overcoming obstacles to find success at college.

"My goal is to get them to think, 'Why not me?'" he said. "College is for everybody."

An estimated 900 young adults and 150 parents attended the event, which included about 80 organizations representing schools, branches of the military, careers, training services, and other resources. The students also were able to watch a lunchtime "Dress for Success" fashion show, which featured the proper attire for job interviews and employment.

Passport to Life is open to youth between the ages of 14 and 24 who are currently on probation or have been in the past. The event focuses on the importance of finishing high school, developing future goals, going to college, and building work-readiness skills.

The expo is presented by the Juvenile Division of the San Diego Superior Court, San Diego County Probation Department, San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego City College, San Diego Workforce Partnership, San Diego County District Attorney's Office, San Diego County Public Defender's Office, and the Off the Street organization.