LA high schoolers say HOLA to ASU Downtown Phoenix campus for a glimpse of college life

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A budding partnership between Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) recently brought a dozen LA sophomores and juniors to the Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix campus for an immersive college experience.

As ASU begins establishing its newest location in downtown Los Angeles at the Herald Examiner building, this growing partnership with HOLA — a vital resource for youth in the area — will serve to strengthen ties with the LA community.

HOLA is nonprofit organization currently serving over 2,100 youth ages 6 to 24. It provides underserved youth with free, exceptional programs in academics, arts and athletics within a nurturing environment, empowering them to develop their potential, pursue their education and strengthen their communities.

Watts College hosted HOLA’s Southwest Airlines pre-alumni scholars in downtown Phoenix for an overnight campus stay in February, offering the high school students a taste of college life. The 2019 visit was the first, with the goal of making the visit an annual occurrence.

From Sunday to Monday, HOLA students toured the campus, participated in college classes and college-readiness workshops, watched the ASU Sun Devils beat the California Golden Bears men’s basketball team 69-59 and talked with current Watts College student Xochilt Zelaya.

Zelaya, a senior in the School of Public Affairs, is from the Koreatown neighborhood in Los Angeles close to where HOLA is located, which made it easy for her to connect with the students.

“As an L.A. native who transferred over to ASU, it was exciting to see more people from my community wanting to take the same educational route I did,” Zelaya said.

“HOLA is an incredible organization that is nurturing young people to see themselves as agents of change in their communities, creating pathways to education for their families,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of Watts College.

“That’s why this partnership is so important to me. Watts College exists to make a difference in communities, and supporting the goals of young people like HOLA’s scholars is core to our mission.”

Along with making the overnight campus visit an annual one, Watts College will sponsor four HOLA students per year (sophomores, juniors or seniors) with scholarships to attend “SummerUP,” an ASU camp held on the West campus, where students are mentored on college readiness and get a taste of university-level, hands-on learning in areas like forensic science, coding, global entrepreneurship and game design.

“Watts College’s consideration shown to our scholars is immensely helpful in our mission to support aspiring college students,” said Anthony Gilmore, scholarship coordinator for HOLA. “Our students have not stopped talking about their adventure in Arizona and have now been exposed to what could be when studying out of state.”

HOLA CEO Tony Brown added, “ASU's track record of sharing its resources with communities striving to reach their full potential is phenomenal, and HOLA is thrilled to be working with them to bring relevant opportunities to our neighborhood.”

The Watts College-HOLA connection exists thanks to Watts College alumnus Alan Adelman, one of HOLA's longest-standing board members and senior equity fund manager and senior equity analyst at Frost Bank.