We connected virtually with graduates from all Partnership high schools — Santee Education Complex, MSTMA at Roosevelt, Mendez High School, Jordan High School, and Roosevelt High School — to get their perspectives on distance learning. 

We asked them the same question: What was your biggest success during distance learning and what was your greatest challenge?

Learn about their insights below.

Andrew Garcia, Santee Education Complex graduate and class president, will attend the University of Southern California and major in Business Administration.

My greatest achievement during distance learning was finding ways to cope with the challenges presented by COVID-19 by keeping myself busy with tasks. Most days I would teach my 5-year old brother the alphabet and numbers and practice soccer with him, help my 13-year old sister with her homework, workout, clean, and watch shows and movies. Every time I did things that I enjoyed, the more I learned about myself, which was a great learning experience. There was so much time and so many opportunities for me to bond with my brother and sister, and I drew strength from that to be able to cope with family problems. I realized that it is important to put ourselves first at times, especially when things beyond our control make it hard for us to do so. The time I’ve spent with my family has fueled my courage and motivation during these times. Although I drew strength and courage from family, it was still a challenge to cope with family problems while distance learning. I found it hard to stay motivated on my school work. It was mentally draining and difficult because it was a completely different learning environment. It took a lot of discipline and responsibility to get my school work done because I wasn’t in a structured setting the way I would be in school.

Arely Valencia, MSTMA at Roosevelt graduate and class president, will attend the University of California, Berkeley and major in Legal Studies and Political Science.

I would say my biggest success during distance learning was finding the strength and motivation to continue learning, especially at the times when I found everything so pointless. Distance learning took a real hard hit on my mental health and work ethic. It became very difficult for me to ask for help since I would not receive it as promptly I would as if I was in class. I began to develop a mindset of “optional school.” Having the mindset that school was basically over because my grades could no longer drop caused me to slack off to the point that I wouldn’t do homework for days. However, the slacking off began to develop into paranoia and self-deprecation because I had fully convinced myself that the school of my dreams — UC Berkeley — was going to rescind my offer for not having the best grades I usually did. But thanks to the countless check-ins and Zoom calls with my teachers and counselors who noticed the change in my behavior, I regained my motivation. I listened to their advice and it helped bring back my zest for learning. I appreciate the amazing staff and teachers at MSTMA at Roosevelt for helping end my last semester of high school strongly and for doing the best they could to support all of us during distance learning. 

Edward Garcia, Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School graduate will attend the University of California, Los Angeles and major in Global Studies and minor in Chinese. He wants to pursue a career focused on international business, specifically with entertainment companies.

As a senior, distance learning was a time to ponder your future and create goals that will lead to your success. Since we were aware that our final semester was going to be cut short, we had to take advantage of the amount of extra time we were going to have, while still keeping up with our high school priorities. For me, other than Advanced Placement courses and exams, there wasn’t much to worry about, but I was challenged with making responsible decisions for myself. Although I still received support and advice from my teachers and counselors, without the in-person help I had to make choices that I believed would best suit my future education. For this reason, I became resilient and persevered through obstacles that this global pandemic created. Through these times, I successfully graduated from high school and now have a set plan that will lead me through my future goals — personally and academically.

Ana Buenrostro, Jordan High School graduate and class president will attend the University of California, Los Angeles and major in biology. She also wants to attend medical school and become a family physician. 

I feel my biggest success was being able to complete my work on time given all the distractions at home, which also was my biggest challenge because at school there were fewer distractions. It was hard to stay focused and not be drawn in by something else. Nevertheless, I completed all my work and I hope to be better at time management in the future. 

Candace Lopez, Roosevelt High School graduate and class president will attend the University of California, Santa Barbara and major in biochemistry. Eventually, she hopes to become an Ob/Gyn.

My greatest success during distance learning was my determination to continue to work and excel in all of my classes. I would be lying if I said that I faced no challenges during this time. I learned that being at home presented several challenges for distance learning, which is why one of the hardest things I faced was finding the motivation to get out of bed and get work done. As tough as this transition was, I was not going to allow it to deprive me of one of the most important aspects of my life — my education.