The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

SSU graduate helps achieve college success through 10,000 Degrees Organization

Formerly known as the Marin Education Fund, 10,000 Degrees has helped over 25,000 students gain access to a higher education. Their mission is to help students from low income backgrounds get to and through college in order to positively impact their communities and the world.

This non-profit organization has many programs that help students learn  how to access, enroll, and complete college. Some of these programs include the 10,000 degrees institute, college day tours, cash for college workshops, and college and financial aid counseling.

Amy Martinez, a SSU graduate and College Success fellow for 10,000 Degrees, was assigned to a cohort of Sonoma State students to serve as academic support on campus. Her role is similar to that of a counselor. 

Her SSU cohort of students often meets once or twice a week at Charlie Brown’s Cafe where she is available throughout the day for students to drop by for advising or just socializing. 

“We help with financial aid renewal, guiding them through the hardships of   registration, major changes, or academics and connecting them to resources on campus,” said Martinez.  “This gives students resources and support for their college career.”

 Martinez, just like the organization she works for, believes that all students have the potential to succeed, which is why they rely on a strength-based approach to their work. 

“We focus on treating each and every student as a unique individual,” said Martinez. “We lean on their strengths to help them learn, grow, and achieve their academic goals.”

According to Martinez, there are two ways to become part of the program and most students are chosen while in high school. One of these programs is a 10,000 Degrees institute that occurs over the summer before their senior year. 

“This program is aimed at upcoming high school seniors, who are first generation or come from low income backgrounds where they spend some time at  a college campus and are a part of workshops,” said Martinez. “This serves as an introduction to college, and lets them know that college is an option.”

Once they become part of the program, 10,000 Degrees supports students through their remainder high school years up until their completion of higher education. 

Once a student becomes part of their  success program they have staff determined to help guide the student through college,transferring and graduation. 

“We are open to helping anyone who needs it,” said Martinez. “Anyone can come to our offices or office hours and ask for help, we will never turn anyone away.” 

According to Martinez, she often has students who refer friends who need help with financial aid renewal or who bring non-10kd friends along to 10kd events. 

The organization gets its funding from reaching out to our donors, as well as hosting a gala in which they have raffles and bidding for people who are interested in the organization. 

Josue Castillo, a senior early childhood development and spanish major, is one of the many students helped by 10,000 Degrees. He is currently a student ambassador at SSU and helps Martinez in counseling and advising other students. 

“I make sure the students feel welcomed and comfortable with the community, as well as serving them as a guide to find resources,” said Castillo. “We also create fun events for our students to engage and get to know each other with the goal that they serve each other as resources for networking.” 

According to Castillo, being part of 10,000 Degrees and working with Martinez has been beneficial in many ways. 

“It has been a great learning experience since  they are all smart friendly and well-trained professionals that care and are passionate about helping others achieve a higher education,” said Castillo. “10,000 Degrees has become a family that has supported me since high school, and has stayed around to continue to help me until I reach my goals.”

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