The IGAC award has helped me pursue higher education by allowing me to reserve my focus for athletics and schoolwork, and less on financial burdens. The IGAC organization has also provided a community of selfless individuals who are always willing to help me overcome the obstacles I encounter throughout my academic journey. If it were not for the initial introduction to the IGAC organization, my transition into higher education would have proved to be a much larger challenge than it was with their help. I am beyond thankful for the time spent within the organization, and strongly stand behind what the IGAC organization does for struggling students.

Read more about Koda’s story here.


Roseanne faced struggles that included an abusive, violent, drug addicted, criminal father who abused all 6 children and tried to murder her mother. The family was oftentimes homeless, moved to four different states, and lived below poverty level. Roseanne attended 13 different schools before high school. She took responsibility for the care of her younger siblings, while her father abused drugs and her mother worked long hours.

After her father was sent to prison for attempted murder, Roseanne and her family reached a level of stability and lived in the same place for 4 years while she attended high school in Napa. Roseanne worked her way through high school in order to help her mother pay the bills. She became an excellent student and valued nothing more than her education. Roseanne was an If Given A Chance Honoree in her senior year of high school and throughout her college years.

Roseanne graduated with her BA from UC Berkeley. She went on to achieve her Masters Degree in Education and Multiple Subject and Single Subject California Teaching Credential at the University of San Francisco.

Roseanne states, “Out of all the support that I have received throughout my college and graduate school years, If Given A Chance is the only organization that has never left my side. They truly care about my well-being and my future success, and I often wonder how my college years would have turned out without them.”

Roseanne is currently teaching high school science classes and working a second job in retail to pay off her student loans. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Education and contribute significant research into the field while staying in the classroom as a hands-on teacher. “I want to dedicate my life to transforming the public education system and to finding effective ways to close the achievement gap and bring equity to education.”


Jose grew up in a single parent home and dealt with poverty all his life. Looking for attention wherever he could find it, he began to hang around gang members and started using drugs at a young age. He found himself increasingly involved in illegal activities that eventually landed him in Juvenile Hall. After being placed on probation, he realized his lifestyle needed to change.

Thanks to the support of IGAC, Jose graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Sacramento State University and subsequently graduated from the University of Las Vegas with a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice. His ultimate dream is to give back to the community through law enforcement and help other teens who find themselves in the same situations that he experienced.

Register Article in 2009


When she was 16, Catrina was removed from her mother’s custody and placed in the court system. She hadn’t attended school consistently past eighth grade. So when she got to the group home she was required to take GED classes. She finished about the time she was eighteen. Around the same time the funding from the county stopped and she had to pack her bags and move out. Without a lot of options, or guidance, she did what every other eighteen year old woman would do. She hopped on a freight train and continued to hitchhike throughout the U.S and Canada.

Shortly after 9/11, she decided to return to California and go back to school. Unfortunately, her actions as a teenager and young adult left her without the ability to receive assistance from state and federal educational programs. On a whim she wrote to If Given A Chance to plead her case to be considered for a scholarship. She desperately wanted to go back to school and could not find the extra money to get started. Writing: “Please, give me a chance..”

A few weeks later Catrina received a letter stating: ‘Ok. We will give you a chance, but here is the deal…’ After four crazy school years later she was ready to transfer to some of the top schools in our state. She had a 3.7 GPA, did volunteer work, worked 40+ hours a week, and managed to still have somewhat of an adventurous side.

“If not for the guidance and acceptance of If Given A Chance, I would not be where I am today in my education or my life. If Given A Chance has made me accountable for my actions in school, which in turn has helped me tremendously to recognize accountability in other areas of my life. I have to have a plan, follow through, or explain when the plan changes. And the best part of all, when I fall down, all I have to do is ask and I’m back on my feet again. When I get an A, change my educational plan, or apply to universities, it is If Given A Chance that I call. They are the “parent” of my education. With their continuous support and understanding, I KNOW I will continue to make them proud.”


“As I chose my class schedule for my last semester of UCLA Law School, I couldn’t help but reflect on all of my experiences over the years and those who have helped me get to where I am today. The If Given A Chance Award provided me with support for 8 years, during the most financially challenging years of my life. Being a first-generation college student with a parent that is unable to assist me financially forced me to do two things: take on part-time jobs and seek outside funding in order to cover costs that financial aid will not. It is difficult to be at an institution where financial hardships are faced by only a few students and where many are privileged in the sense that the only stresses they face are academic. If Given A Chance helped lessen my stresses, and I thank both the Board and the many donors for all they have done to assist me over the years.”

The road has been long. Angeles graduated from Vintage High School in 2000 and from UC Berkeley in 2004. She obtained two Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Chicana/o Studies. She spent a year studying in Barcelona, two summers doing labor organizing and research, and a summer at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy at Princeton University. She graduated from Berkeley in 2004 and her father passed away seven months later, during her first semester of law school. She withdrew from school, returned to Napa and worked for the Education as a Second Language Program at the Napa Valley College while assisting her mother financially. She returned to law school as a member of both the Public Interest Law and Policy Program and Critical Race Studies Programs and became Co-Chair of the La Raza Law Students Association as well as the Pacific Region Coordinator for the National Latina/o Law Student’s Association.

Angeles volunteered to assist a homeless Hurricane Katrina Victim for a semester helping her obtain almost $80,000 more in aid, and recently completed a Clerkship with the Public Defender’s Office of Los Angeles County. Her goal was to eventually make her way back up to the Bay Area since, with her mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer, she realized how important it is for her to go back home. Her immediate post-law school plans were to work for the Public Defender’s Office and to eventually serve the criminal defense and education needs of both detained, and recently released youth through representation and advocacy. In 2013, she was appointed Deputy Alternate Public Defender in Los Angeles representing youth in the juvenile justice system and still serves in that role.