By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Give Every Child a Chance graduates youth after they get up to grade level
Parent Valarie Ford, center, talks with Mentoring Program Director Unaiza Furqan, right, and tutors Natalia DeSilva, left, and Marian Ali, second from right, during Fridays Give Every Child a Chance 3rd Trimester Graduation Ceremony conducted at the Manteca StrikeZone. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT


The Bulletin

Mariam Ali works to inspire youngsters.

As a volunteer and mentor for Give Every Child a Chance, she spent the past two years providing one-on-one tutoring to students at her Manteca Unified site, Lathrop Elementary School.

According to Unaiza Furqan, director of the GECAC Volunteer Mentor-Tutor Program, Ali and others worked with youngsters with struggling grades during the past school year.

“They came to us because they were getting ‘D’s, ‘F’s, Inc. (in the classroom), or had a teacher’s referral,” she said at Friday’s graduation ceremony held at the Manteca Bowl and Family Fun Center.

Of the 39 third trimester graduates, 12 attended the small event that recognized both students and their one-on-one tutors.

Included was Andrew Ramirez (Yajaira Vazquez, mentor), Crystal Sanchez (Amber Othman), Harshdeep Sahi (Neil Roberts Jr.), Indeerveer Sandhu (Taylor Maddex), Jack Huerta (Aaron Smith), Joshua Ford (Bill Cook), Kassandra Guitron (Monserrat Romo), McKenzie Sandoval (Lexus Wilson), Manreet Sahota (Amber Zarevich), Ruby Hernandez (Victoria Gutierrez), Rumneek Gill (Odalys Silva), and Stephanie Zarate (Adrianna Ibarra).

“It was really a group effort,” Furqan said. “We’re really proud of our graduates – it was not an easy task.”

She understood the difficulties of learning, sharing her own experience of her classroom struggles.

As a sixth-grader, Furqan, who has been at GECAC for six months, arrived in  the U.S. from Pakistan, and was enrolled in an English Language Development Program.

“My teacher worked with me before school, after school and during lunch,” recalled Furqan, who went on to take AP English courses while at Sierra High.

She moved here from the Bay Area about 10 years ago. Furqan is a graduate of U.C. Irvine.

Meanwhile, each of the graduating youngsters received a certificate along with a $5 Chiliberries Frozen Yogurt gift cards. Ditto that for their mentors.

Ali, who is a 2013 graduate of Manteca High, worked with 20 students. Among her graduates were Alfredo Munoz, Eryanna Ramirez, Michael Alfaro, and Nicholas Licea.

“The key (to learning) is to inspire students to do their work on their own,” said Ali, who will be attending Modesto Junior College and, hopefully, Stanislaus State.

“I’d like to do something that involves working with students,” she added.

Ali believes that it’s important to “inspire students to do their best.”

She’s also looking forward to returning to GECAC to work with more students come next year. “I have some better teaching ideas I’d like to try,” Ali said.

For more information on the program, click on to