Assistance League of Long Beach: Connecting Talented Youth With Experienced Mentors
Two students Zoomed with us from their dream college dorm rooms to talk about the CAMEO program and its personal impact.
By John Grossi
From McBride to Manhattan
From her dorm room on the Fordham campus in the middle of New York City, freshman Elizabeth Carrillo tells me over Zoom:
“If it wasn’t for CAMEO I wouldn’t be here. I probably would have gone to Long Beach City College or another local school just to relieve the financial burden from my parents and stuff like that.”
The straight-A student from McBride High School in Long Beach is the first person in her family to go to college and is doing it in a big way. Living in the middle of Manhattan and sitting on a $50,000 baseline scholarship, Carrillo also has several smaller scholarships helping her make this once-in-a-lifetime, university experience possible.
All because one of her teachers recommended her for the CAMEO program. CAMEO is a program put on by the Assistance League of Long Beach dedicated to supporting under-served, academically promising students from Long Beach Unified School District high schools and Long Beach City College. According to the program’s mission statement:
“Our member volunteers are working professionals who provide one-on-one mentoring
support to enhance each student’s educational and personal development.”
Mentor Margaret Warren of CAMEO took Elizabeth Carrillo under her wing for three years
(and beyond) and helped her learn life lessons and skills that unfortunately aren’t taught in
“If anyone has the chance to be mentored, I definitely would recommend it,” says Carrillo. “I
was able to get internships, learn how to apply to jobs, conduct interviews, make a resume, and she really helped me in applying to college and for scholarships.”
In short, CAMEO helps bridge the gap between work and school-related opportunities, and those worthy of seeking such opportunity. Many eligible and capable students simply need guidance from someone with real-world experience.
The Pride of Cabrillo
The same goes for Freshman Jesus Gomez who graduated from Cabrillo last year and is now
attending UC San Diego. Mentor Utilia Guzman coached him on what to wear and what to say
before each interview he had over the past three years. And thanks to CAMEO, he had a lot! Interviews for internships, jobs, and scholarships!
Gomez remembers joining CAMEO somewhat hesitantly as a shy sophomore. Three years later, through their professional development workshops and his overall experience gained from being in the program, he found himself giving the commencement speech at graduation.
The message of his speech urged his fellow students and alumni to go forth in the community
and talk proudly about Cabrillo High School. He said it was up to him and his peers to change the reputation of Cabrillo and show people that smart, hardworking, college-educated students come from Cabrillo and that they need to honor the great teachers and staff who are turning Cabrillo into a top school.
Both Jesus Gomez and Elizabeth Carrillo are the first in their families to attend college; their parents didn’t have the experience to guide them through the process of how and where to
“Being a part of CAMEO helped take a lot of stress off my parents,” says Gomez.
Carrillo, the oldest among her siblings, looks forward to being the one to help her sister next
year when it’s time for her to apply for colleges.
Both have a long journey ahead of them, but they won’t be traveling alone. In fact, now they both have life-long friends and mentors, who have already navigated the seas of education
“UC San Diego was one of my top choices,” says Gomez. “I just feel like I wouldn’t have come
here if it wasn’t for CAMEO.”
Our mission is to transform the lives of children and adults through eleven community programs. Our auxiliaries (Rick Rackers, Las Hermanas, CAMEO, and Assisteens ®) combine with Chapter members to create the dynamic “community of volunteers” that is the lifeblood of the organization. Programs such as Operation School Bell, Orthodontic Program, mentoring and scholarship are focused on assisting students and families from the greater Long Beach area (Long Beach, Lakewood, Signal Hill) who are considered “working poor.” Annually, Assistance League of Long Beach serves between 15,000-21,000 children, youth and adults. Learn more about us at ALLB.org.