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San Diego Student Believes in Better Education for Herself

By Allura Garis

SDCE Student Madeline Loewe-Pollock Shares Her Story

SDCE Student Madeline Loewe-Pollock Shares Her Story

Madeline Loewe-Pollock finished her last year of high school at San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE) after attending two other public institutions.

The blonde and blue-eyed 21-year-old turned her back on school. She ignored her family when giving up became a better escape. “I was a failure. I couldn't do anything,” says Madeline. She struggled with math and any science that involved numbers from an early age.

“If I was going to be failing those classes, I knew I wouldn't be able to graduate. So I just stopped trying in every class.” That frustration led to poor attendance in high school and increasingly less academic effort. “During my senior year, I dropped out. A year later I moved out of my parents’ home.”

The San Diego native tired of not doing the right thing, turned her life around, significantly. “Something happened where I just had to wake up and realize where I was.” Madeline welcomed a third chance at a diploma and allowed herself to reach out to people who loved her. “I knew that I had to go back to school.  I wanted to know what my future would be.” She chose to attend free classes at SDCE after checking out multiple adult institutions in San Diego. Her success in class resulted in diploma, but also in her being honored as the Matthew LaCaze Memorial Scholarship recipient.

Now she is amongst peers who are actively chasing the same dream, an invaluable education. While attending SDCE Madeline received individual guidance that helped her thrive in core classes. “It was a completely different experience at SDCE, she smiled. “I was so supported. SDCE is where I gained self-worth, confidence and where everything came back together in my life.”

Madeline Plays GuitarMadeline Practices Yoga

Madeline Enjoying her Favorite Activities

Madeline’s resiliency led her to find new natural highs in academics, soccer, and music. “I learned a lot of math. It sounds a little silly but I didn't know times tables and now I understood them.” During her transformational year at SDCE, she was encouraged to apply for scholarships but believed otherwise. “I couldn't apply for a scholarship. I didn't have anything special about me to write an essay.” Realizing her story does matter, she thought, “Go for it. It's a good thing to try. Show yourself you’re worthy enough to get something like this.” Madeline applied for a scholarship named after a former SDCE student, Matthew LaCaze,

Similar to Madeline, Matthew LaCaze turned his life around after falling short to peer pressure. He was killed at age 21 in a car accident in September 2007. The tragic event occurred shortly after he earned his high school diploma from SDCE’s North City Campus. The scholarship is funded by Matthew's grandmother to help other adult high school graduates go to college. Madeline reflects, “It’s a really sad story, but I connected with Matthew.” He was about to graduate but he couldn't. Not that I'm going to do it for him, but I want to do this like he wanted to do it.”

Following her graduation from SDCE, Madeline transitioned to San Diego Mesa College with the help of the scholarship she received. “I can’t believe who I am today and who I was before. It’s a beautiful feeling. When it gets to me so much, it makes me want to cry.” She is now pursuing an Associate Degree for Transfer to San Diego State University to become a nurse.

There are numerous support and resources available on campus to best counsel the demographic of students that face mental health issues and addiction. Recently, SDCE opened a new Outreach Resource Center at the Educational Cultural Complex to accommodate the social and emotional needs facing this population. The resource center is open on Mondays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

SDCE offers thousands of free classes and more than 40 certificate programs, including classes to support students with verified disabilities. The adult education institution will host more than 3,700 incoming students at six campuses for the spring 2017 semester. To apply visit, SDCE.EDU

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San Diego Continuing Education is the adult education division of the San Diego Community College District. It was one of the first community college continuing education institutions in California to meet the standards for independent accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. More than 44,000 students are served per academic year at six main campuses in San Diego. Noncredit classes are available at no cost, including online options.


Classes are free because San Diego Continuing Education is part of the California system of higher education. Funding also comes from business and industry partnerships. Learn more at