Andrew Marshall was born and raised in the San Bernardino area in a low-income, single parent home. His mother struggled financially several times through his childhood with job loss and difficulty coming up with rent money that led to relocating multiple times. Seeing the pain and instability of financial struggle, he knew that he did not want to endure this dilemma in the future. 

As early as the age of twelve, Andrew developed a passion for understanding the way individuals socialize with one another along with a desire to help them—due in part to navigating his own place within the challenging world of teenage culture.

“I was always shy and didn’t have many friends,” Andrew shared. “I would have been more involved and done better in school but I didn’t really know how to make friends.”

Growing up, Andrew never knew the importance of having a college education as very few of Andrew’s family members ever earned a high school diploma or attended college. It rapidly became obvious that it would take a tremendous amount of money to support his life goal of attending college and individually affecting the statistically-low percentage of college educated African-Americans in the region.

“This motivated me as I did research on how few African-Americans are admitted into four-year universities,” Andrew said. “I was interested in attending and it motivated me to want to change that rate by going to college.”

Andrew was accepted into the Valley-Bound Commitment—a program for graduating high school seniors in the SBVC service area. The program provides a free first year of college (fees, books, parking pass, and more) for all attendees and Andrew began to meet friends and develop a social network on the campus.

Beyond the critical financial assistance, Andrew also benefited from the guidance of a dedicated counselor to prepare him for success in college and the community service aspect of the program.

“I didn’t know anything about college when I first came. I didn’t know how important it would be to have a counselor show me the importance of an educational plan and even how to get around the school,” Andrew admitted. “Also, the community service aspect of the Valley-Bound Commitment really showed me what it’s like to work and help others.”

After completing the year-long Valley-Bound Commitment Program, Andrew has continued to succeed in his collegiate career. He was named to the Dean’s List (highest honors) for the fall 2012 semester and graduated in the spring of 2013 as a first-generation college student with an overall grade-point average of 3.4. Andrew transferred to Cal Poly Pomona in the fall of 2013.