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2015 February

MAPS 4 College and Project SPICES Host 4th Annual Out-of-State College Fair on February 18, 2015

written by Gabriel Mendoza and Sarai Koo, Ph.D.

“The idea that attending an out-of-state college will always be more expensive is not true,” Ed Devine, President-Elect of the Western Association of College Admission Counseling (WACAC) and Regional Director of Admissions at Lafayette College, said to students and parents at the college fair. “These colleges have grants and scholarships that can make attending them the same if not less than attending college in California,” Devine said.

Dr. Sarai Koo, Founder and CEO of MAPS 4 College and Chief Visionary of Project SPICES said, “We all know about the big name schools, but sometimes those schools may not be the best match for you. Finding a college that fits you means you are more likely to be successful there.”

College admission representatives presented workshops, such as finding the right college fit, living on campus, financial aid, and ways to increase their chances of being accepted into college. Also, the representatives helped students develop and/or evaluate their college essays/personal statements.

“When do you get the opportunity to have college admission representatives help YOU get ready for college? They are giving you golden nuggets that can change your life.” Koo stated.

The night concluded with a case study session entitled “How College Decisions Are Made.” Students and parents were given the chance to play the role of a college admission counselor and were asked to choose who they would accept into college from a group of mock students.

“I learned a lot,” Ricky Santiago, 16, said. “I learned how check out schools and make sure it will work for me. And if I work hard enough it can cost the same if not less as the colleges around home.”

With the information they received, they are motivated to increase their academic grades, become more involved in the community, become responsible and action-oriented leaders, and more.


2015-MAPS_fair_agenda1 2015-MAPS_Fair_agenda2


Social/Emotional/Whole Person Results

MAPS CEO developed the MOST AMAZING and the only holistic program/curriculum to redirect the lives of people.  Her passion to transform the lives of people has taken her 15 years to develop her theory, methodology, and approach to help people live a productive, happy life.

From 2006-2012, she embedded her methodological approach in all aspects of MAPS operations and programs. During fall 2012, she taught youth, young adults, and adults this methodology.  (The results speak for themselves)

Sample Results:

* (2011-2012) A male high school student had shared his desire to purchase a gun and shoot people and classmates who bullied him.  As a prevention measure, Dr. Koo provided a 3-month SPICES curriculum to the student.  After the program, he no longer had the desire to kill but to help his fellow classmates and community.  In 2014, he is smiling, is attending a most competitive institution, has a girlfriend, and is working. (He stayed with the program for one year)

* (2012) A female high school student had attempted suicide by hanging herself in the bathroom.  She felt hopeless and depressed with her current circumstances.  She took the program, and after the program, she no longer had a desire to commit suicide.  She stated she now has a purpose to help others and is needed in the world.  In 2014, she stated she has yet to argue with her siblings and parents; never once thought about suicide or had episodes of depression; and she is enjoying her first year at a university. (She stayed with the program for one year)



Students and adults have experienced the following benefits as a direct result of the program:



Other Human Development Areas


Understand the importance of becoming an excellent student/person Understand people’s behaviors and not become affected by negative issues Understand the importance of becoming an excellent, productive employee/employer
Improve academic performance Increase in confidence


e.g. Bullied befriended bullies and gained an increase in self-esteem

Become responsible and accountable for their actions (e.g. learning, life choices, and more)
Increase test scores Increase personal motivation to excel despite obstacles Become whole (holistic)
Develop time-management skills Improve communication skills (intrapersonal and interpersonal; oral; and written) Become healthy (physiologically and physically)

e.g. people healed from Mono, paralyzing infection, back pain, knee pain, and more

Find resources and solutions to issues that impede their way Gain self-awareness (identity, personality, obstacles, expectations, life goals, and more) Discover that people have a purpose in life that it is attainable (e.g. passions)
Become non-competitive and focused on what people need to do in life Reduce negative personal issues

(e.g. rejection, fear, anxieties, pain, stress, and more)

Learn how to value and appreciate others

(become open to diverse peoples and situations)

Develop problem solving techniques and willingness to talk about their problems Become less angry, bitter, jealous, and envious Become emphatic and compassionate towards people who are different from themselves
Develop critical thinking skills and strengthen decision-making skills Learn to resolve internal and external conflicts

(e.g. no longer desire to commit suicide)

Become aware of repetitive patterns and reduce unwanted destructive patterns
Learn how people are influenced by others, media, and society Learn to forgive and be forgiven (restore and strengthen relationships) Develop a sense of community (community building)
Become aware of the thoughts, actions, and choices people make Strengthen self-reflection techniques Decrease in unnecessary arguments, fights, etc.

(reduce in violence, bullying, and other negative circumstances)

e.g. bullies no longer torment their victims.



“It’s really changed me as a person.” – A. H. (11th grade)


I have learned that we have to forgive people around us in order to accept who we are and to forgive ourselves.  It is important to love yourself for who you truly are, to learn how to cope with your feelings and to realize that what you believe of yourself is what is reflected unto others.  So, love and forgive the people around you.  – N. H. (college student, 20, one year after the program)

“You transformed our lives into something better, I will always believe in you and I will always trust you. . . .I can see what others might be feeling because you said about the emotions and everything, so it’s easier to catch what people are feeling. . . . always give compliments to people even though they’re not nice to you.   ” – D. H. (college student, 19)


“. . . Through this program, I also realized my self-worth because  . . . before I didn’t really feel like I had a place in the world . . . So, now I feel like I have purpose and everything. . . So, I’m actually going to go for what I want.” – C. L. (11th grade)


“I have not only learned about the opportunities being a part of this organization offers me, but the meaning of life itself.  I know that may sound quite drastic for me to say, but it is true.” – Y. C. (12th grade)


“[With 10% of the material provided], I have changed 70% of my life. . . .What I learned from these last 13 weeks is to be a different person with myself and with others.  Before I would just keep things to myself a lot, now I’d rather share it.  Before I’d be more quiet, but now I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts.” – V. R. (11th grade)


“It has helped me . . . to go on in front of the classroom and talk and actually get A’s on my presentations because I used to get C’s because I would always fidget and move. . . I’m much more interactive and I think I like to help people a lot more now because before I was very bad at explaining and I just wouldn’t even try . . . It has just helped me a lot with being able to communicate especially with adults because I always thought adults would like not listen to me and then now, I feel like… even if they don’t listen to me, I can still speak.” – A. M. (12th grade)


“One big thing that I’ve took in . . . is [that] I’m a lot more confident in myself . . . and comfortable talking to new people or being open.  I’ve learned to take risks and do things that before the program I would probably be too scared to try. I’ve learned to be more understanding of people such as their situation or way of thinking instead of making myself the victim of “why do I have to change for them?  They should change for me.”  Before the program I would blame others for my own actions or find a way to lie to myself that it wasn’t my fault, and now I acknowledge the mistakes I make and grow from them, I can catch myself before I blame-shift.  – G. M. (12th grade, one year after the program)


“[I am] more open instead of just quiet all the time.  [I] learned to counter the culture [and in some ways like stop blame shifting. . . and the insult thing. I’m not really affected by anything because that’s my problem and not the person who insulted me if I get offended.” – E. R. (11th grade)


“I think for sure the biggest thing that I learned in this workshop was to accept people for who they are and to be more forgiving . . . I feel a lot better than before and I am not as negative anymore and the way I look at people is different.  Even the people who are mean to me, I try to think maybe they’re going through problems at home and stuff like that and just forgive them for what they do. . . Online, there’s this girl who always bullied me. . . Back then, I would retort and stuff like that . . . I said ‘It seems you’re holding up a lot of anger.’  And I’m like ‘I’ve been there.  And when you hold up a lot of anger, you start just blowing up to people that you don’t really mean to.’ And I forgive her no matter what. . . . a couple of days later, she said ‘Can I talk to you?’ She said she’s going through a lot of family problems like her parents and stuff, or that she lacked thereof parents, yeah.  So then I told her . . . I’ll be your sister. . . . So we talk everyday now, but in a good way.” – C. L. (11th grade)


“But what I found the most impacting was when we learned how not to be as affected by what people say to you because that’s only your problem.  Because if someone says something to you, it’s your problem because they don’t know they offended you.” – E. R. (11th grade)


“And now I learned that when to step up and when to step down kind of thing. . .It took me forever to learn how to keep my mouth shut because I tend to argue because I’d be like ‘no, you have to see this side!’ and it doesn’t get you anywhere.  So I learned how to step up and step down. . . I learned how to step back, which is really hard because my mom always says I like to argue, especially with my sisters.  But now I’m learning how to step back, which is important.” – B. C. (young adult, college graduate)


“Throughout my whole life, I’ve had a dream.  I just knew all my purpose in life is to be is a professional chef.  That’s all I knew and grew up with since my dad is also a professional chef and I’ve always looked up to him.  School was never my thing. I have always been a C average student.  But ever since I’ve joined the program, my grades have improved.  I’ve made new friends. I look forward to be living everyday and making something out of my life.  I’ve learned to look at the bright side of people and have a positive attitude. I don’t regret ever being part of maps. The program has made me a better person.” – S. C. (10th grade)


“When I first started the curriculum, I was very skeptical about it because I wasn’t sure that I wanted someone to tell me that I needed to change my ways.  But I’m so glad I stayed for the curriculum because it has helped me become a confident and strong individual.  I have been able to keep friendships and accept others for who they are. The program really gave me new opportunities in myself because I was able to accept myself and realize my worth.  Due to the curriculum, I was able to get along with my younger sister and apologize for everything I’ve done to make her feel bad.  Everyday is a new experience with her but SPICES really prepared me and gave me the tools to work at this with my sister.  I also realized that I love to help others on my way to my mountain top. I have witnessed and felt miracles happen in the room we meet. . . .The program influenced many of my behaviors that I have now.  The whole curriculum and SPICES brings out a comfort in me.  I’m able to feel more relaxed and stress free.  I actually stopped biting my nails, which is something I’ve been doing since I was 4 years old.  I just love to learn about others and interact with everyone and it’s all thanks to the curriculum. I really hope that others can get as much out of the curriculum as much as I did.” – A. M. (12th grade, one year after the program)


“[The program] allowed me to see the world in a dramatically different and healing light. I feel that your teachings allowed me to think of alternative methods to approaching conflicts that strays from anger and cynicism . . . you’ve taught me the strength of kindness and understanding, I’ve learned to think about context, to try to understand people and the world around me, and to actively navigate my life with integrity and hope.  My relationships with my family, friends, and acquaintances have grown stronger because of this. . . . The important part is that you don’t tell people what to do or think.  You let them be themselves and find their own paths.  You just give them knowledge of other choices they can make.  It’s a method of thinking and not a way to think. This is definitely not common.  On another note, you also give students the skills to survive within the current faulty educational system.  This sets them up to be in a place where they have agency to carry out their dreams using (or not using) the approaches to thinking you’ve taught them.  I think you give people both the power to succeed in the current system and the power to change it.” – H. H.  (former high school student reflecting on her experience)


“It doesn’t matter what age you are.  You always need to self-assess, analyze, and be open to reflect and notice what you’re doing, so you can try to improve and catch yourself.  I think I’ve been more aware . . . because I catch myself. . . . I just want to say that it’s never too late for transformation and I think what this has helped me to build is a consciousness and an awareness of everyone around me.  Most of all, I would sum it in one word which would be hope.  The word ‘hope’ and to say that even though you see me at this age, my journey has just begun, that’s what I’d like to say.” – Adult Educator/Parent Specialist (above 40 years of age)



2/18/15- 4th Annual College Fair and Free College Essay Evalutation


MAPS 4 College, Regional Admission Counselors of California, Project SPICES, and the City of Baldwin Park will be hosting its 4th annual college fair in Baldwin Park on Wednesday, February 18, 2015.

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015

Time: 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Registration: email OR


5:30 pm – Registration
6:00 pm – Presentation: Go out of state to college and save more money?
6:45 pm – Workshops (financial aid, finding the right college, and more)
8:00 pm – Actual college fair

** College admission officers will review college essays and advise students for free **

Guest Speaker:  Ed Devine 

Ed Devine is the current President Elect for the Western ACAC ( He oversees colleges and universities, community colleges, public, private and parochial high schools, independent practices and community based organizations in California and Nevada. He served as the Chair of the Regional Admission Counselors of CA, representing colleges and universities throughout the nation. Also, he has served on New England and New York ACAC committees. Currently, he is the Regional Director of Admissions at Lafayette College, a most selective institution in Pennsylvania. Previously, he worked at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, Syracuse University, Le Moyne College, Loyola University of Chicago, and Hawaii Pacific University.

We are looking for people who would like to join the leadership team to help make this fair come to fruition! If you are interested, contact

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015

Location: 4100 Baldwin Park Blvd., Baldwin Park, CA 91706

Time: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm