Young man in a colorful suit and sunglasses standing at a podium

Making a Promise

Sheku Baryoh was 11 years old when he made a promise to himself. After seeing the horrible toll that civil war had on his home country of Sierra Leone and watching a childhood friend die, he promised his family and himself that he would do whatever it took to escape the horrible violence and make a better life. 

He ended up in the Netherlands at age 16 where he attended university and became a registered nurse. But opportunities for employment were still limited.

To fulfill his promise, he knew he would need to do what millions of other immigrants have done. He immigrated to America.

Ticket to a Better Life

Even though he had to start over, getting an American education was his ticket to a better life. He chose Sacramento City College (SCC) because of the rich diversity it offers and the quality education he could receive tuition free through the Los Rios Promise. Thanks to the extension of the California Promise grant, his second-year is also tuition-free and he can move on to a four-year university without the burden of student loan debt.

Tuition is just the first hurdle though. Just one textbook for one of his three summer school classes was $120 – and that’s just school supplies. He also must cover costs of living and caring for his young family, including 19 month old daughter Eileithyia.

As SCC’s Student Body Vice President, he’s heard countless stories from students who go to school full-time and work full-time, but are barely making it, including Ene, who was homeless and living in her car so she could save money to attend school. He does his best to connect them with resources at the college to help them survive, and every bit of financial help makes a difference to students.

The Los Rios Promise

That’s why he is so excited about a new opportunity to help students, the Los Rios Promise Scholarship. This scholarship provides $500 to new students who are attending American River, Cosumnes River, Folsom Lake, or Sacramento City College, take a minimum of 15 units each semester and have the most unmet financial need. In fall 2019, 120 students received this scholarship to help remove financial barriers like the cost of textbooks, transportation and school supplies.

There are hundreds more Promise students like Sheku who need your help. These committed students are just embarking upon their journey to change their lives through education.

His education from SCC is going to help him join the workforce, share in the American Dream, and finally fulfill his promise.