ALearn Silicon Valley Education Foundation

Photo Credit: ALearn Silicon Valley

ALearn Silicon Valley


Glenda Vargas hated math. In 6th grade, a pivotal year for mastering early algebra concepts, she got an “F” in math class and felt defeated. “Math felt like a foreign language to me. I was so lost that one day I just broke down in tears in class,” she said.

Seeing her struggle through 7th and 8th grade, Glenda’s teacher at Crittenden Middle School in Mountain View recommended she enroll in a summer program called AVID Bridge, an intensive six-week math instruction and high school prep program presented by ALearn. The program also included science and English studies as well as leadership building. The program is tailored to low-income, underrepresented students in the South Bay and the Peninsula.

It was a life-changing experience for Glenda, who didn’t mind taking an early-morning bus from her home in Mountain View to Los Altos High School for the 7:00 AM program. “Everything changed for me that summer,” said the now 23-year-old, who was able to master Algebra I in the summer between 8th and 9th grade and advance to geometry as a high school freshman, thanks to AVID Bridge (now called Catalyst to High School).

“I gained so much confidence in my math studies that I was able to transfer that to other subjects and be successful in those, too.”

While at Los Altos High, Glenda completed AP calculus, tutored math to at-risk Crittenden students, became a leader of the Latino Student Union, and was accepted to a number of 4-year colleges. She chose Chapman University in Southern California.

Glenda Vargas is the first in her family to go to college, a major achievement and point of pride for her and her family. She more than conquered the odds against her, considering that fewer than 26 percent of low-income students complete Algebra I, a gateway class to college. And fewer than 8 percent complete Algebra II. Statistics also show that nearly 21 percent of local Latino students drop out of high school.

Today, Glenda is headed to Santa Clara University to get her master’s degree in the Arts in Teaching Program. At the same time, she’ll be earning a teaching credential. Her goal is to go back to her hometown school – Crittenden – to teach math to students who struggle with the subject, just like she did.

“I will be coming full circle. I’ll be coming home to help and inspire students who struggled with math just like me,” she said. “I feel like I’ll be making a difference back in my community.”

Undeniably, Glenda attributes her success to the ALearn summer program she took as a teen. She said she wouldn’t have been able to achieve it all without the inspiring program and its motivating teachers.