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Education

LEARN4Life graduates students determined to get high school diploma

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Carlos Solorio
LEARN4LIFE graduation ceremony for East County students held at the Salvation Army Kroc Center, January 20, 2022

Dozens of East County and South Bay families celebrated high school graduations Thursday and Friday. The graduates were students who overcame tremendous challenges.

The LEARN4LIFE charter school network includes several campuses across San Diego County. The program offers one-on-one teachers to young people who dropped out of school because they were homeless, have disabilities, or faced other obstacles that left them without an education.

Erik Geniza, 19, has a military family that moved several times during his high school years. He struggled to stay focused until he was referred to LEARN4LIFE. He graduated Friday with his diploma from San Diego Workforce Innovation High School in Linda Vista.

The flexibility of the curriculum helped him reach his goal. He said, “You just go in whenever you want for however long you need. The teachers are there to help one-on-one.”

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Erik Geniza
Erik Geniza, 19, with his mother, Sheila Espiritu in an undated photo

Jose Mendoza is one of the teachers who supported Erik in creating his success story. Mendoza has taught in the program for six years and is committed to helping his students cope with their struggles and often emotional pain.

“Some of them are foster youth and they have their own kids,” Mendoza said, “some are English learners who have to have a full-time job to take care of themselves and sometimes family members. The short term goal is always completing their high school diploma.”

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Every year, LEARN4LIFE helps more than 40-thousand students in need across California. After completing the individual curriculum, they get their diplomas and often have job opportunities already lined up after graduation. The non-profit schools offer tuition free to all eligible applicants.

“I feel good,” said Erik Geniza about his graduation, “it’s been a long time coming.” While he continues working at an entertainment center in downtown San Diego, he will begin applying to a community college. His plans include studying to become a graphic artist.

“I’m finally ready just to get it done,” he smiled.

For more information on available programs in San Diego County or other locations across the U.S. go to www.learn4life.org.