Achieve Learning and Resource Center was started by Dr. Juan Sanchez and Dr. Evelyn Boria-Rivera as part of an effort to rectify what they experienced as the growing disparity in educational achievement. Having met while doctoral students at the University of Notre Dame, Juan and Evelyn bonded in part over their shared experiences as children of single mothers who had always had to struggle, as overachievers who had encountered both the benefits and the shortcomings of a public education, and as students who had had to seek out their own opportunities for academic advancement.
Evelyn had been an honors student who imagined a college education for herself but had no idea how to attain it. While well-intended teachers always encouraged the pursuit of higher education, they often did so with dwindling resources and limited means. Though Evelyn eventually earned a merit scholarship she found and applied for without any assistance, she was ultimately forced to drop out of college when her merit scholarship proved inadequate to pay for her education at Fordham University. After earning straight A's at a local college she transferred into a small private university, where more scholarships paid for her education in its entirety.
Juan grew up in a San Jose ghetto and in high school was headed down the path of street crime and gang involvement when he was transformed by a chance encounter with a youth leader at the community center who introduced him to the poetry of John Keats. Juan turned his attention to academics, moving his grade point average from 0.4 into a 4.0. Despite his efforts, though, counselors often assumed his low-income background would limit his academic opportunities, encouraging him instead to apply to local vocational schools. Undeterred Juan too applied to independent scholarships and put himself through college.
Despite these challenges, Juan and Evelyn excelled in college, went on to earn Master's and Ph.D. degrees. Now professors at one of the nation's premier universities, UCLA, both are determined to help students overcome the economic barriers that seem to conscribe them to limited educational opportunities. By focusing on equalizing the scholarship field by giving all students access to otherwise expensive tutoring and SAT pep services and by providing free seminars and application reviews, Juan and Evelyn hope to eliminate some of the challenges they faced for today's generation of students.