Jocelyn Felix, 17, and Randy Roman, 18, are two recent success stories for student mentorship nonprofit CAMEO after the two were selected to lead their graduation as class valedictorians this year at Jordan High School.
“Being a valedictorian at Jordan, I feel, is like a great achievement because it’s such a rigorous program,” Felix said. The students were required to maintain straight A grades their entire time in school to make valedictorian on top of extra after school activities.
The two North Long Beach residents have been selected out of 24 other seniors with GPAs over 4.0 who are on their way to college. Jordan High will host its graduation ceremony sometime in June.
“It’s pretty remarkable to have so many of our CAMEO students make valedictorian,” Maria Harris, CAMEO’s mentoring chair, said.
A long-time program by the Assistance League of Long Beach, CAMEO has been operating in Long Beach for over 30 years and is funded through philanthropic donations. Students within the CAMEO program are paired with a professional in a variety of industries who act as one-on-one mentors to help the students cultivate a career path after high school or community college.
CAMEO students are selected based on recommendations from high school counselors. Students are eligible if they meet a 2.7 GPA requirement. The mentorship program focuses on assisting students who come from underserved and low-income communities.
Gail Bradley, CAMEO public relations chair, said many of the program’s students have parents who don’t speak English as a primary language.
“A lot of these students’ parents haven’t gone to college, so that process is not familiar to them,” Bradley said. “Three kids that I’ve mentored—all of those kids’ parents speak a different language.”
In the case of Roman and Felix, the two had parents who struggled to finish college. Their CAMEO mentors helped them navigate the sometimes confusing process of college applications.
Once a month, CAMEO hosts after school events for the students to complete community service requirements. Both Roman and Felix attended these events at a local YMCA to volunteer in toy drives during the holidays. The students are also taken to museums and art galleries as part of the after school events the program offers.
“A more affluent child may have gone to the Getty or something,” Bradley said. “We want to make sure these kids have the same opportunities.”
Roman is currently waiting for a scholarship to see if he will commit to Cal State Long Beach or UC San Diego next year, and Felix has her eyes set on becoming a future UCLA Bruin to study biology.
“It was always standard for me—go to school, get good grades,” Roman said. “But being able to walk up there in all white is an exciting thought.”
CAMEO’s annual three-day virtual auction and fashion show fundraiser to support mentoring services and scholarship programs is coming up May 14-16.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify Jordan High’s graduation date and the number of valedictorians this year.