Faces of Rio

graduating students

On this page, you will read about Stephanie, Tron, Daniel and Thanh, a few of the inspiring students who recently graduated from Rio Hondo College. When you make a donation to the Rio Hondo College Foundation, you enable students like these to work toward a brighter future!Click here to donate

Oralia AlcortaOralia Alcorta

When I came to Rio Hondo, my long backstory was filled with tragedy and pain. As a survivor of sexual and domestic violence, addiction, homelessness, struggles with mental health, and as a formerly incarcerated student, I’ve worked to overcome prejudices and assumptions. Today, I am now five years clean, reunited with my children, and serving as a counselor-advocate to other women, men, and families impacted by violence.

Rio Hondo College helped me turn my life around. Every time I was overwhelmed, and wanted to quit, someone from Rio Hondo would give me the support I needed to push forward, and ultimately succeed. Rio helped me become a new person.

I am especially grateful for the scholarships I have been awarded from the Foundation! Receiving a scholarship made me feel like someone believed in me. It helped me work even harder–to succeed despite the obstacles. I am honored and grateful to be able to say “Thank you” for your generous gifts to the Rio Hondo College foundation. You are helping me turn my life around!

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Stephanie Lopez
Stephanie LopezI was told my battles with depression and anxiety would rule out achieving a college degree. That inspired me to work even harder, to show people that mental health challenges don’t need to derail someone’s ambitions.

I chose Rio Hondo College as the first step in this journey, thinking at one point that I would flit in and out of the college. Instead, I found myself shaped by teachers and relationships that opened my horizons to new career possibilities and helped me understand my own challenges better.
I decided to pursue communications, and became a leader in campus clubs, even winning awards for videography and for speech and debate.

I ended up earning not just one associate’s degree, but three: one each in behavioral studies, communications and journalism. I am looking forward to studying rhetoric and journalism at UC Berkeley next year, but I promise to stay close to the wonderful teachers and staff at Rio Hondo!

U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Tron Bosse
Tron Bosse I am a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marines. For the past twelve years I’ve been leading troops in Africa and Japan, overcoming battlefield challenges and defending our country.

When I came to Rio Hondo College, I applied myself to my studies with equal intensity, earning associate’s degrees in both history and political science. The Veteran’s Resource Center offered me a place to connect with other vets and to share strategies for success in the college environment.

I have recently been diagnosed with third stage colon cancer. I will battle this too, while I remain focused on my goal. I will transfer to Hofstra University in New York, where I plan to triple major in political science, Latin American/Caribbean studies, and history.

Thanh Luong
Thanh Luong When I was growing up in Vietnam, I was fascinated to watch my grandmother use herbal remedies to help our neighbors get well. This inspired my career dream:  to become a doctor. I moved to the U.S to pursue my education, even before I’d learned English.

At Rio Hondo, my zeal to learn led me to the Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement program. I learned English, chemistry and biology by immersing myself in 200 hours of peer-tutored workshops. I also seized an opportunity to volunteer at the UCLA Medical Center.  This hospital experience further reinforced my decision to study medicine.

Now I have graduated from Rio Hondo with a 4.0 GPA, and transferred to UCLA. I believe it is because of Rio Hondo College that I could pursue my career goal. I am grateful for the opportunities to work hard, learn a great deal, and be moving toward success.

Daniel BresendenDaniel Bresenden
Raised by working-class Russian immigrants, I followed my father into the construction business. But years later, two things happened to change my life’s direction. First, there was the great recession, which sapped my business’ strength.  Then, my brother developed a brain tumor, and soon died. I was devastated. But I also felt suddenly driven to go back to college.  I would launch a new career in medical research to help people like my brother.

I enrolled at Rio Hondo and poured myself into my studies.  In two years, I graduated with three associate’s degrees: in general math/science, biology and physics.  In addition, I performed genomics research at UC Irvine. I am transferring to UC Berkeley in the fall.

If I had come to Rio Hondo at 18, I’m not sure I would have been ready to make the most of it.  How great that students like me can start on their path to success at any age.Click here to Donate!The Rio Hondo College Foundation thanks you for making a difference for thousands of students like these.  The gift of education lasts a lifetime!