Photo courtesy: CVUSD
Brianna Smith Gunn (right), a 2008 Don Lugo High graduate, talks to Don Lugo seniors about her experience in the Army.
Courtesy of Chino Valley Unified
CHINO– Looking like she was addressing her police officers in a shift briefing, Chino Police Chief Karen Comstock told Don Lugo students that success is theirs if they just have the right mindset. Chief Comstock was among more than a dozen Don Lugo High graduates who spoke to seniors, juniors and sophomores on January 7 about going to college during the annual “Life After Lugo.”
Don Lugo counselors founded the event seven years ago “because they felt that giving students as much information about college as possible would ensure greater success,” said teacher Sophie Yu. She took over coordination of the event three years ago, when original coordinator Kathie Spaun transferred to Chino Hills High. This year, Ms. Yu increased the number of sessions a senior could take from two to three. “All presenters are Lugo grads and my goal is to have more career pathways,” Ms. Yu said.
“Commit yourself to a process of learning,” Chief Comstock said as she walked back and forth among students in the Don Lugo multipurpose room. “Even if you don’t want to go into college after high school, get into a learning environment…Success is all in your futures, if you want it,” she said “…You are from Chino; you’re from Don Lugo. We believe in you.”
Following introductions and the chief’s keynote speech, other Don Lugo High alumni spoke to small groups of students on a variety of college-related topics in different classrooms. Among the subjects discussed were campus life, military experience, engineering, networking, picking the right school, commuting versus dorms, studying abroad, personal finance, the AVID college preparation program, the Dream Act, and time management.
Brianna Smith Gunn, a 2008 Don Lugo graduate, said she managed a hotel for a while before going to college, and then joined the Army 4 ½ years ago. Although she is only 5-foot-3, she worked in corrections for the military at Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba, where war criminals and other high profile prisoners are detained. She said at least three of the approximately 30 students in the class she was addressing would go into the military, based on statistics kept on military service. She told the students that many soldiers have lost their lives to ensure the freedoms of Americans.
Don Lugo graduate Albert Perez, who said he was the first in his family to attend college, talked about how three-dimensional printing is used in the bio-medical engineering field he is studying. He passed around two of the items he has made with a 3-D printer: a Batman symbol, and the words “#1 Mom” with a heart symbol behind it. He also talked about the fun he had exploring a new city while attending college.
Graduate Elizabeth Cho said her parents are immigrants who didn’t go to college, so they had a hard time helping her when issues came up about her college experience. She told the Don Lugo students there are resources and people on college campuses that can help new students adjust. She also talked about overcoming the “imposter syndrome” in which students don’t feel like they belong at their college or that they are not “good enough” to be at the school. She said it was a culture shock for her to be attending prestigious Wellesley College in Massachusetts because of the more affluent students who attend that school, the long distance from her home in California, and the colder weather there. “You grow a lot,” she said of attending a college away from home. She concluded her comments by showing a video of students who have experienced culture shock in college. Among those shown were students who were the first in their families to attend college.
Other Don Lugo graduates who spoke included Megan Johnston, Janette Armenta, Joseph Green, Nick Flores, Jacqueline Dana Valera, Samantha Ochoa, Kendell Langrell, Randall Brakob, and Frankie Torres. A luncheon was held following the event, with muffins, cookies, and water provided by Ms. Yu’s brother-in-law.