REALITY CHANGERS transforms lives by providing youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with the academic support, financial assistance, and leadership training to become college graduates.

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Reality Changers helps youth throughout Southern California achieve the dream of higher education. Our experienced staff and volunteers utilize the “Tightrope Theory” approach to ensure students keep their focus on college. But that’s only half of the story; the other half involves our students’ grit, tenacity, and determination. Without these characteristics, even the strongest institutional backing will not guarantee success.

The Monthly Alumni Spotlight chronicles the obstacles and challenges Reality Changers students face on their journey to a better life – all from a first-hand point of view.

Fast Facts:
Marlene Navarez
Reality Changers, Class of 2012
University of Redlands, Class of 2016
Major: Psychology

What was the biggest challenge you faced when transitioning from high school classes to college courses?

The classes weren’t the hard part, what was difficult was learning that we all made sacrifices for me to be at college. For my mom it was the financial pressure, while for me it was accepting that I would miss out on four years of family events and bonding but it would be worth it when they all came for graduation.

What was your favorite part about participating in Reality Changers?

The family aspect was and still is the most important aspect of RC. Stepping through the doors and being welcomed home was the best feeling.

Why did you decide to work at Reality Changers?

I realized it was my turn to give back to the organization and community that gave so much to me.

What advice would you give current seniors at Reality Changers about college that you wish you had know before stepping on campus?

There is someone on campus whose job it is to help first generation college students. Find that person!

Involvement outside of work or school: 

•  Worked for YMCA afterschool program for three years
•  Work Study at School of Continuing Studies for two years
•  LGBTQ Safe Space Ally
•  Track and Field Freshman and Sophomore year
•  Went to Japan during Mayterm
•  I really enjoy painting and reading

Who inspires you and why?

Jordan Harrison (former Director of College Town at Reality Changers); because he’s so selfless and takes you in as part of his family like he has known you all your life. He inspires me to go and chase my dreams and is always reminding everyone how special they are, not by saying it but by showing us.

What is your favorite quote?

“We have a tendency to want the other person to be a finished product while we give ourselves the grace to evolve.” -T.D. Jakes