From South LA to Ivy League: The Official SXSWedu Panel by Green Dot Public Schools


In just a few days, thousands of education leaders will congregate in Austin, Texas for SXSWedu. The annual conference fosters innovation in education by hosting diverse and energetic stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds. Over the 4 days, the education community will connect, collaborate, create and change how we all teach and learn. This year, Green Dot Public Schools has been invited to host a panel discussion on Tuesday, March 8th.

From South LA to Ivy League

For Ánimo Pat Brown (APB) alumni Alvaro Quintero and Jose Rodriguez, the panel serves as an opportunity to share their story of transition from high school in South LA to the Ivy League. While at APB, the students both say, they received a college-preparatory curriculum and a structured program of support to get them to college. Counselors, advisors and teachers provided Quintero and Rodriguez with the care and confidence needed to get to the next steps in their academic career.

“Thankfully my teachers were available for me to ask for help when I needed it. Without that I could have had a lot of trouble in classes,” Quintero says. “The support given to me by my teachers and administrators helped me get to where I am now.” Where he is now is at Harvard University, completing his first year.

Alvaro Quintero SXSWedu

Persisting to and through College

Jose Rodriguez SXSWedu

For some students, the pathway to college and career success is often a challenge. Students can find themselves struggling to adjust to life in college and, in many cases, life away from their community of support.

By telling his story, Rodriguez hopes to “show younger—or even older kids—that going to college is a very attainable goal,” says Rodriguez, who is attending Yale University.

“Alvaro and I are proof that where you come from doesn’t determine where you can go.”

Growing up in South LA, where many people don’t go to college or even finish high school, did not deter these students from pursuing their personal, academic goals.

After accomplishing so much in their lives, challenges still remain for many of our first-generation students in college. For Rodriguez, he wants the panel to highlight the need for continued support for students to persist through college.  “I, like many other students from low-income communities, feel privileged to be at an elite university, but I also feel alone,” he explains. “I don’t regret choosing Yale, but having to leave my family and friends behind was and is difficult.”

Green Dot continues to graduate students to college but once there, how can we ensure students receive the support they need? It is our hope that our participation in the SXSWedu panel will provide the forum needed to create meaningful outcomes for all our students. Listening to our students’ stories is the first step to understanding their needs. If you’re interested in learning more, please consider attending our panel at SXSWedu.

Going to SXSWedu? Attend Our Panel

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