In 2001 Exceeding Expectations began with twelve kids, all of whom came from large extended families. Not one of these kids had seen anyone in their family graduate from high school. We quickly learned that college was something that was seen as being for others….not for them.

At that point, it was clear that the major objective of EE must be to get these kids educated if they were ever to have a chance of breaking out of their very limiting environment.

It starts with exposure to a world beyond their own, helping them to understand and to believe that education is their right and something to strive for. However, as they started to believe that an education is important and possible, having no financial means stopped any dreams they might have had. So we make this “deal” with every, single EE kid and his family:

You get accepted into the best school for you, and EE promises that finances will never be a deterrent towards staying in school.

Thanks to our very generous supporters, we’ve been able to keep that promise. Some donations are made as general support to the EE program and are applied towards educational needs. In other cases, donations are made in the form of a grant to a specific EE student.

We proudly present the EE kids who, with this kind of support,
have already graduated from college.
Others are following in their footsteps. (See below for kids now in college).



Nik was our first college graduate. After graduating top of his high school class in 2008, he went on to UC San Diego and graduated in 2012 with a degree in Biophysics. He is now a regional sales manager with a biomedical supply company in San Diego. Nik is also paying it forward as an EE volunteer and mentor, and he has also endowed scholarships for EE collegians.


One happy graduate

Marlene was accepted into a special high school program where she attended her first two years of college during her last three years of high school. She finished that program #1 in her class. She then followed Nik to UC San Diego, and went on to receive her Master's in Social Work from Cal State Dominguez Hills. She and husband Hilario, who also holds an MSW, are working at a prestigious clinic in San Bernardino.



Isi graduated from UC Riverside, where she further distinguished herself as a standout track athlete. In addition to now mentoring EE kids, she is a track coach whose trainees often compete at Mt. SAC , one of the country's best known track & field facilities. Isi also started a successful small business making and selling jewelry.

The kids are also marking successes in other post-high school endeavors.



Following his high school graduation, Edgar entered the US Marine Corp where he had a distinguished career. Following a full tour as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island, he went to Okinawa to take charge of a motor pool.



Willie Barrios took a different route, one which is proving to be a very good choice for him. Following his high school graduation, he started work in distribution where he set about learning the business. In 2012 he bought his first truck (with a loan from EE) and started his own business. Today he has three trucks and his business is thriving.

The Work Continues

EE kids in college or graduated

  • Marlene Samano MASTERS (Cal State Dominguez Hills)
  • Josh Rodriquez-Irons MASTERS (Cal State Long Beach)
  • Archi Lai (UCLA)
  • Nik Keller (UC San Diego)
  • Louisa Moreno (Berkeley)
  • Isi Ibarra (Cal State Riverside)
  • Orion Hernandez (Long Beach CC)
  • Tammy Patterson (Loma Linda Nursing School)
  • Enrique Campos (Cal State San Bernardino)
  • Vianey Barrios (Cal State San Bernardino)
  • John Alvarez (California Baptist University)
  • Nancy Alvarez (University of Redlands)
  • Andrew Arellanos (Humboldt State University)
  • Airlen Franco (Cal State Monterey Bay)
  • Moses Hernandez (Valley College)
  • Ian English (US Army and Arizona State)
  • Arian Mayorga (Valley College)
  • Joselyn Canseco (Valley College)
  • Ricardo Franco (Valley College)
  • Fernanda Alvarez (San Diego State)