By John Guenther.

Louie Chagolla first ran into trouble with the law when he was 13 years old. The South Los Angeles teen grew up around drugs and gangs and eventually was arrested.

Chagolla spent time in youth correctional facilities and it was a cycle that repeated itself with Louie and too many other young people like him. Breaking that cycle isn’t easy.

Enter the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and Los Angeles Mission College, one of nine campuses of the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD). ARC started a program that partnered with the community college and was designed to identify young people like Louie and give them an opportunity to go to college and change their lives. The solution was not just getting Louie and others into college—that was the easy part—but helping them with securing housing and support services so they could transition successfully.

Twenty-two students are now enrolled in the program, and recently California Forward was given the opportunity to visit with Louie and learn about the program.

Chagolla is currently employed as a program assistant in the outreach and recruitment office at the college. When Louie is not in school or working, he spends his time attending events and policy forums with ARC, and finding ways to give back to his community and fellow young adults.

Recently, LACCD Trustee Sydney Kamlager authored a resolution which her fellow Trustees passed and calls for developing a district-wide approach to making sure that students who were previously incarcerated have an opportunity to succeed at their schools the way Louie has at L.A. Mission College.

Chagolla is now studying to become an engineer and helps other young Californians realize a different path, get a job and give back to their communities, too.

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Originally posted at CA Fwd.