CSU Dominguez Hills program helps formerly incarcerated students turn their lives around

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ByIrene Cruz via KABC logo
Thursday, October 20, 2022
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Scholars United is an organization that helps formerly incarcerated students turn their lives around. The group put on a first-of-its kind lowrider car show. The event, which was held at CSU Dominguez Hills, is tying spruced-up cars to students in need of a helping hand.

CARSON, Calif. (KABC) -- Scholars United is an organization that helps formerly incarcerated students turn their lives around. The group put on a first-of-its kind lowrider car show. The event, which was held at CSU Dominguez Hills, is tying spruced-up cars to students in need of a helping hand.

Shiny paint jobs, vintage car models and hydraulics - that's what you'd find at a lowrider car show called, Uniting Cars, Culture and Education. The event had a specific goal.

"Bring the negative stigma down with lowriding," said Luke Peck, president of Scholars United. "Back in the '70s and '80s, lowriding was known for gangs and violence, but it was also created at that time to bring positivity into the community by having kids stray away from the gangs and get into low riding."

It's put on by Scholars United, a campus organization that helps formerly incarcerated students.

"At one point of my life I was facing a prison sentence for some dumb things I did," said Peck. "But since then I've changed my life around and I'm here at CSU Dominguez Hills. I graduate in spring next semester."

Cynthia Blake, co-founder of Scholars United, was once homeless, addicted to drugs for thirty years, and sent to state prison for felony charges. When she got out - it was tough to get a job.

"I couldn't get hired nowhere. So I needed money to survive and so I decided to go to school," said Blake. "Nobody could help me. There was no peer support. We're here to change our lives, but nobody's showing us the road."

So she started Scholars United in 2019 to help students with rough pasts get back on their feet. Now, Blake has a bachelor's and master's degrees in Sociology and officially has a job at Cypress College helping formerly incarcerated students. But it's events like these that show the community stigmas can be broken and mistakes can be fixed if there's a helping hand.

"It doesn't mean you can't change and do better," said Blake. "It doesn't mean you can't be a productive member of society."

MORE | Project Rebound is developing new toolkit to help formerly incarcerated students find housing