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Marlon Saechao


Marlon grew up in multiple foster homes. When he turned 18, he struggled to make ends meet while working and going to school. He even found himself homeless at one point. This summer, Pivotal connected him with PRxDigital for a marketing internship. His first assignment was to work on a pitch for a new potential client – plastic surgery and dermatology clinic Aestetx. Drawing on his own struggles with acne and acne scarring and his personal dream to start a skincare company, Marlon created a presentation that blew them away. He nailed it, and Aestetx became a client.
Read more about Marlon’s story.


When Cicero started his Pivotal journey by applying for a scholarship, he had no idea what an impact Pivotal would have on his life. Ten years later, Cicero is a college graduate, father to a teenage daughter with a career he loves. The support he got from Pivotal went far beyond his original expectations. “It was an entire journey of meeting different people and getting support, from writing a resume to having conversations about 'adulting.' The people at Pivotal were by far the most valuable resource.”
Read Cicero’s Story.


In 2019, overwhelmed by challenges in her life that she felt she had no control over, Marlené decided to withdraw from college. Even though she had secured a Pivotal scholarship, she simply was not in a place where she could move forward with college. But she never gave up – on herself or her dreams.
Today, Marlené says she considers herself a wholly different person. Transformation is at the core of everything Marlené does. She talks animatedly about the small business she is building - Glowin and Growin – a clothing line she hopes will inspire others who are facing their own challenges. “I’m so much better now, a better version of myself,” she says. “I have a brand, a small business that inspires other people. And as I inspire other people, I am learning from them and learning more about myself every day.”
Marlené initially came to Pivotal through our scholarship program but quickly learned that there was much more we could help her with. “Pivotal is so much more than just a scholarship. They really care about your education and you as a person. I know Pivotal is there for me, thinking about me. I see it as a resource for school but also a community.” Marlené plans to go back to school to get a degree in Business Administration and we are so excited for her as she glows and grows into the next stage of her life!
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When Monserrat was a sophomore in high school, her mom passed away unexpectedly, and she went into the foster care system. Over the next three years, she went through seven different housing placements and changed schools numerous times. It was tough to make schooling a priority, but she persevered and graduated high school. Monserrat’s mom had always wanted her to pursue higher education and she hoped to attend to a 4-year college but that simply was not financially viable for her on her own. That’s when she found Pivotal.
Pivotal awarded Monserrat a scholarship to start at Skyline college. Pivotal coaches worked with her every step of the way, providing the guidance and support she needed to start in college, apply for financial aid, select classes, and create a plan to get to a 4-year university. Monserrat is now in her third year at UC Santa Barbara, working on a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics with a minor in Sociolinguistics. After graduation, her dream is to continue learning – she has her eyes set on a master’s degree and eventually a PhD.
Read Monserrat’s story in her own words.


For as long as she can remember, Denisse has wanted to be a pediatrician. And as a biology major at San Francisco State, she’s well on her way. Life hasn’t always been easy for Denisse. She endured many years of abuse before entering the foster care system. She kept her dreams alive, even though life constantly whittled away at them.
Things began to change in high school. A friend suggested she tag along to a Pivotal STEM workshop. Denisse didn’t know what to expect, but the self-described science buff dived right in. She learned coding, robotics, and website design, as well as professional development skills like how to write a strong resume and interview for a job. When she completed the STEM workshops, she received her very own laptop which came fully loaded with Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel.
Denisse started working with a Pivotal coach who helped her get a summer internship at Kaiser. That's when she got a glimpse of her future. She says, "I always wanted to be a doctor, and after my STEM internship, I'm sure it's what I want to do!"
Denisse is on her way to creating the life she wants for herself. Her first day of college was surreal. “I was so happy, I cried tears of joy,” she says. “I don’t know what I would have done without all the support from Pivotal. Sometimes you just need to think big!”
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Mac’s dream of going to a 4-year university seemed unattainable. He came to Pivotal after three attempts to pursue a college degree. He was enrolled at San Jose City College and he credits his Pivotal coach for giving him the support, advice and structure he needed to succeed. Mac transferred to UC Berkeley where he created NavCal and Nav2Cal – programs to help non-traditional students gain access to higher education and thrive when they get there.
Read Mac’s Story.
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Jaskirat always imagined going to a 4-year university and becoming a pediatrician. She wanted to help people and give back to her community. When she was accepted to U.C. Davis and received the Pivotal Scholarship it was literally a dream come true. Jaskirat had a vision of what college would be – living in the dorms, meeting new people, and immersing herself in the college experience. But when she arrived at U.C. Davis and started taking classes, the reality of college wasn’t what she expected. It was a struggle adjusting to an unfamiliar place, sharing her space with new people, and juggling work and classes.
Jaskirat made the difficult decision to step back and go to community college for a few semesters. This year she transferred to San Francisco State University, more prepared for what to expect. Jaskirat’s inspiring story is a great example of how important it is for each student to determine their own path as we help them build the life they want.
Read the rest of Jaskirat’s story.
Toni Landscape
Toni discovered Pivotal while she was an undergraduate, looking for resources and peer support to help her through school. Now, she is an alumni of San Jose State University and UC Hastings College of the Law. She recently passed the California Bar Exam and strives to be a catalyst for change in her future career as an attorney.
Read Toni's story.
Jennifer Landscape
At one point, Pivotal was nothing more than a phone number on a flyer to Jennifer. After that first call, Jennifer became part of the Pivotal family and started on a path to achieve things she never imagined possible. She became the first person in her family to graduate from college, and discovered a new passion for helping vulnerable people through her current job at a medical center.
Read the rest of Jennifer's story.