Cool Kid Victor Sanchez-Hernandez helps classmates find college opportunities

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At lunchtime, Victor Sanchez-Hernandez can often be found at STEM Academy of Hollywood leading meetings to help educate his fellow classmates about attending college.

At lunchtime, Victor Sanchez-Hernandez can often be found at STEM Academy of Hollywood leading meetings to help educate his fellow classmates about attending college.

"You have that bond and so you feel more comfortable with them," said Sanchez-Hernandez.

The 16-year-old junior has teamed up with advisers from the federally funded program GEAR UP 4 LA to empower teens with knowledge about higher education.

"How to afford college. How to apply for FAFSA. You want to go to the right college that's really the right fit for you," said Sanchez-Hernandez.

"His excitement, his vibe, it's just so contagious," said GEAR UP 4 LA Adviser, Jackie Villalobos. "That's why they listen to him, because they know what he's saying is valuable and they see it."

It's also been a learning experience for Sanchez-Hernandez. He now knows how to take charge of a room full of teens and lead exercises. His advisers say the program has grown from 15 kids to 50 thanks to his leadership, and they've had to move into a larger room.

"Is there anything I can do to help? That's constantly what Victor is saying. What can I do to help?" adds Villalobos.

Sanchez-Hernandez also spends time mentoring kids at a local recreation center. He says he's eager to help develop the next generation of Latino leaders. While this "Cool Kid" loves engineering, he is keeping his own college aspirations open for now, and is focused on getting more kids involved with GEAR UP 4 LA.

"It's amazing that they give so much information, but when you think about the downside, not that many kids are taking advantage of this, and that's why it's here!" said Sanchez-Hernandez. "To take advantage of it so we can obtain all this information, and we can pass it down onto our friends, so hopefully it can keep going on through the generations."
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