Growing up on the Crenshaw side of Baldwin Hills – a part of Los Angeles with heavy drug and gang influences – Ryan was not always surrounded by positive role models. Many known gangs were within close reach.
Coming from a household where his father never attended college and his mother never finished, Ryan Sandoval saw how hard his parents worked at Deluxe Entertainment Services, and dreamed of attending college. His mother, who worked in shipping, and his father, who worked in customer service, would take alternate shifts to ensure Ryan and his older sister were never alone.
“No one in my family went to college and my sister attended, but dropped out,” Ryan says. “I wanted to go so I could help my mother financially to get out of the community we lived in.”
Ryan encountered the Fulfillment Fund during his freshman year of high school at Gertz-Ressler Charter School. When Ryan was matched with his mentor Scott Kaufman, an architect at a construction management firm, he was thrilled to finally meet someone who was familiar with the college process.
“I could tell he was determined and enthusiastic about the program,” Scott says, of Ryan as a freshman. “He made it easy for me to be a mentor because he was open to ideas about our outings and we discussed his future about wanting to be an architect - he was the perfect mentee.”
Together, they toured architectural structures and went scuba-diving, experiences that were eye-opening to Ryan.
“The program provided me more than a mentor in Scott, they provided me a best friend, a brother, a family member,” Ryan says. “It was more than helping me go to college, he opened my eyes to places and things that my parents could not provide.”
Ryan’s family embraced Scott with open arms, knowing he could provide assistance with college applications and financial aid – something they had no experience with. Scott exposed Ryan to the field of architecture and helped him network with people at his own firm.
The Fulfillment Fund provided Ryan one-on-one help with college applications, financial aid, scholarships and tools like Destination College – a day-long college preparatory event. In addition, staff members helped him polish his interview skills in mock interviews and assistance with his personal essays.
“Miss Elizabeth, my counselor, would come into class and take the time to go through my essays,” Ryan says. “It was the Fulfillment Fund staff and my mentor Scott that gave me the confidence to do even better in high school so I could get to this point in my life.”
Today, Ryan is thriving in his second year at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona as an electronic and computer engineering major. Once set on becoming an architect like Scott, he's now undecided about his future career, but but confident that his studies in the field of technology will open doors.
“Ryan and I are friends, I continue to stay in contact with him and he does as well,” Scott says. “I continue to take an interest in his schooling and want to be helpful when he graduates in looking for employment. So I guess you could say the impact was our mentor/mentee relationship has not ended.”
“Scott was super-supportive of everything I did, even to this day,” Ryan says. “I love where I am and I’m happy the Fulfillment Fund helped me get here.”