CISLAW Graduation Coach
Venice High School
Tomás Licea immigrated to the United States in 1986 with his sister and mother. At six years of age, he was challenged to learn English in school in the central valley town of Lindsay, California. He picked up the language quickly and made many friends in school through his involvement in school and community activities. His friends were essential to him as they helped him learn to speak and understand English at a rapid rate. By fifth grade, Tomas was in English only classes and began tutoring and helping newly arrived students to learn English. He has always had a fascination with teaching and helping others.
While at Lindsay High School, he assisted students in the AVID program designed to motivate students to prepare for college and equip them with the skills necessary to succeed in school. He also was a teaching assistant in ESL classes while balancing his academics, sports, clubs and organizations. He played three varsity sports while maintaining membership in the California Scholarship Federation (CSF), MECha and the Spanish Club. He graduated second in his class.
AT UCLA, Tomas started out as a pre-med student but was drawn to Education and Spanish Literature. He realized early in his education that he had a passion for education and Spanish Literature. Throughout his college years, he worked with the University to recruit minority students and his association with the Academic Advancement Program at UCLA helped the university recruit nearly five-thousand Black, Latino, Pacific Islander and Native American students. He graduated with a BA in Spanish Literature, Chicana-Chicano Studies and a minor in Education.
After his graduation from UCLA, Tomas taught at Pacific Hills School, a small private high school in West Hollywood. During his four years at Pacific Hills, he managed to instill important life lessons in his students and instill a sense of pride in their culture and community. During this current school year, Tomas has been the Graduation Coach at Venice High School for Communities in Schools Los Angeles West. He has helped empower youth to remain in school, work up to their potential, and plan to graduate in four years. He serves as a mentor, counselor, big brother, confidant, role model and friend to over 170 students.