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News Release

February 25, 2019

Student's Career Begins to RISE in Design World

The College of the Canyons Resources for Individual Success in Education (RISE) is a program that was created to improve access to higher education for students who are current or former foster youth and homeless youth.

Since launching in fall 2017, RISE has helped more than 155 students. One of those students is Salvador Ayala.

The sophomore student recently graduated from the Snap Design Academy, which he first heard about through his RISE counselor Dora Lozano.

Created by Snapchat and Bixel Exchange, the Snap Design Academy is a rigorous 5-week program that helps launch the careers of Los Angeles area community college students in the fields of technology and design. With a recommendation from Lozano, Ayala applied to the academy’s first-ever class and was stunned to have been one of the 20 students accepted.

“I was so shocked and excited,” said Ayala. Held at Snapchat’s Venice headquarters, the paid course gave Ayala hands-on experience through a curriculum built by Snapchat’s product designers. As a Snap scholar, Ayala also benefited from workshops, mentorships, professional development, and project-based learning. “What I took away from Snap was how design works in the real world and how much impact it has,” said Ayala. “I learned strategy from the most professional designers that come from all over the world. Perhaps the most important thing I took away from meeting these great people, including the CEO, was that I have what it takes and that gave me confidence that will never go away.”

Lozano is especially proud of Ayala’s achievements and attended his Snap Academy graduation.

“This was a great opportunity for Sal,” said Lozano. “At the academy graduation, the impact of Sal’s experience showed in his skyrocketed confidence and outstanding presentation skills. I am pleased that Sal took a positive risk and applied for the academy. Sal is a living example of if you can dream it, you can do it! I look forward to the future that Sal is going to build with these experiences.”   RISE aims to increase retention, promote student learning and development, as well as improve graduation and transfer rates.

Thanks to the generous donations of the college’s Associated Student Government and foundation, as well as various community businesses and organizations, RISE has provided participating students with gas and transportation subsidies, clothing, shoes, and vouchers for school supplies and textbooks.

“RISE has helped me with guidance in education with a great counselor that cares about my success,” said Ayala.

After graduating from Snap, Ayala was one of seven students selected for a six-month paid internship with Nike. Ayala currently works at a Los Angeles-based startup fashion company where he handles social media and design.

With plans to transfer to California State University, Northridge in the spring, Ayala wishes to become a creative director.

“I want to start my own media agency where I can help people, start my own clothing brand, and give back to everyone that has ever helped me,” said Ayala.