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  • Writer's picturecontracostamm

Hugo Ortega

CAP commits to coaching our students, who we call Wave-Makers, to graduate from college as quickly and with as little debt as possible while equipping them with the skills and experiences needed to be competitive contributors to the global workforce.

The College & Alumni Program (CAP) works with traditionally underserved students in the Bay Area to help them graduate from college on time and with as little debt as possible. For Hugo Ortega, that dream is becoming a reality. Currently a sophomore at California State University, East Bay, Hugo is on track to graduate college – without debt – and receive a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing. A first generation, Latino student, Hugo worked with CAP to address and overcome his unique challenges.

Born in San Francisco, Hugo’s family moved to Oakland due to rising housing costs. Eventually, Hugo’s family decided to relocate away from Oakland amidst constant violence near his home. The family then settled in Richmond. According to Hugo, his time in Richmond was invaluable. “My parents believed it would be best to move in to Richmond to protect us from any violence and I loved the time I spent in Richmond.” At 10 years old, Hugo enrolled at Making Waves Academy, a public charter school in Richmond.

During his senior year of high school, Hugo attended a CAP-hosted FAFSA workshop where he first learned about the financial aid process. CAP coaches were ready to answer questions, ensuring all students understood the process and were prepared to fill out the required forms. Hugo now uses what he learned through CAP to help his family. “I have various family members who are also entering the FAFSA application process,” says Hugo. “I gladly guide them through the requirements to help them receive as much financial help as they can.

Hugo was initially indecisive about his career path when he started his studies at California State University, East Bay, which resulted in some difficulties from changing majors. “One of my biggest mistakes as a student was enrolling in a class without knowing if it was suited for me,” he says. Hugo’s CAP coach, Courtney Arguello, advised him to talk to a school counselor. “From there I was given an outline of classes I should be taking for the upcoming semester and tips on the classes I should be taking that would knock out various requirements.” Confident on where he currently stands academically, he is on schedule to complete his degree in four years.

CAP coaches also work with students on non-academic areas. As an incoming freshman, Hugo felt lost and like he was doing the bare minimum on campus. Many CAP students face a similar feeling of “not belonging ” and coaches often remind them of their previous accomplishments and why they are meant to be there. “Ms. Arguello pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone and explore the various amount of activities, clubs and organizations CSUEB has to offer,” he says. Now with a new level of stability in his academics, he is also meeting great people who share his interests. CAP’s flexibility and patience is what Hugo admires most about CAP, as it helped him change his major and improve his social life outside of the classroom. He hopes to work as a marketing manager after graduation.

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