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OP Scholar Petra talks about experience with OP’s LAPD Mentorship Program


OP Scholar Petra, who graduated high school last month, has been a part of Operation Progress since the 6th grade. Before she goes off to college, OP staff member Lily Reiner interviewed her about her experience with OP’s LAPD Mentorship program. Here is the transcribed interview:

Lily, OP Staff: In what grade did you start with OP, and who do you consider to be your mentors?

Petra, OP Scholar: I started OP in the 6th grade when I was 11 years old. I consider Officer John Coughlin and Officer Eric Ortiz as my LAPD mentors.

Lily: Have those two been your mentors since the beginning, from 6th grade onwards?

Petra: Yes, in the beginning, it was Officer Ortiz then changed to Officer Coughlin. But we all built such an amazing bond that they both took me under their wings, so I ended up having both assigned as my mentors.

Lily: They make a good mentor team. How have your relationships with your mentors added value to your life? Why are your relationships with your mentors important to you?

Petra: My relationship with my mentors has gone far beyond what I thought it was going to be. They’ve taught me so many life lessons and opened up so many doors for me with opportunities that I never thought would be possible. They both have been my gateway to safety and freedom, with the trips to the barn or to the Grove. Officer Coughlin and Officer Ortiz are considered my family more than mentors. I couldn’t imagine my life without those two!

Lily: So nice! Do you have any favorite memories with them that you can share?

Petra: Yes, when a few OP girls and few LAPD officers, including Ortiz & Coughlin went to Knotts Scary Farm! I love spooky things and high rollercoasters, but I don’t mess with clowns! And Coughlin knew that, so when we walked by the whole section of clowns, I remember Coughlin just making sure I was okay and he let me hold on to him while I closed my eyes! We both still laugh at it to this day, haha.

Now, Ortiz, I remember we just got done with a major hike. I mean big hills and holes on the ground! I was drained and Ortiz knew I hated hikes but he applauded me for finishing it. So he rewarded me with In-N-Out but we made a dare that every time we came to this restaurant we had to get another layer of patty! So we started off with the double-double, then the 3×3, & then the 4×4. We still need to do the 5×5 so I’m just waiting on it!

Lily: Haha! so good. Hopefully you can get that in before you go off to college! Hmm, what else. This isn’t about mentorship, but as you go off to college soon, do you have any words of advice for younger OP Scholars?

Petra: Yes. Do not wait to the last minute! Your senior year will go by fast and before you know it, you’ll need your recommendations and need to start applying to schools. Remember to keep in mind, who you want a recommendation from so they have plenty of time to complete it. Also, keep your options open for colleges! If you have a dream school in mind, make it your number one priority but make sure you have really great backups just in case. The applications and all of it is not HARD, but it is time-consuming, so manage your time well so you are not stressed! Most of all, I wish you guys the best and hope you get into your dream college!

Lily: Love it, thank you for answering my questions!

Petra will start her freshman year of college soon at Stone Hill College in Massachusetts. 

July 9, 2020


Daisy C. – May’s Scholar of the Month

Daisy is a sophomore at St. Mary’s Academy and has been apart of OP for 7 years. She has an outstanding 4.5 GPA and 100% programming attendance in both OP’s Cooking Class and G.L.O.W. Group. Daisy has found her passions for horseback riding, academics, and most recently, travel through opportunities at OP.  Last summer, Daisy and her sister went to Australia for one week through a sponsor and realized there is so much more out in the world that she wants to discover. Her favorite program at OP has been an art class where they visited an art museum. She wants to go to Parsons in New York City for college and pursue photography as a career. We are so proud of Daisy for her consistent, strong work ethic and her openness to the opportunities that come her way. Congratulations Daisy!


WE Movement: WE Day & WE Walk for Water

Operation Progress Scholars attended WE Day, a fun-filled, celebrity-packed event that brought together tens of thousands of young people that want to make a larger impact on the world.  Over the course of the day, the Scholars listened to keynote speakers that talk about the service projects they are committed to and participated in activities that emboldened their passion for giving back. It was an amazing opportunity that introduced OP Scholars to a worldwide community committed to service. Every year our Scholars have a blast and come back inspired to do some good in the world.

A few weeks after WE Day, our Scholars and their families attended WE Walk for Water, another WE Movement event aimed to highlight the importance of clean water and what communities around the world have to do to access it.

Thank you to the WE Movement for their partnership in providing these immersive, educational, and fun opportunities and service projects to our Scholars!


Deputy Sheriff Hoist – May’s Mentor of the Month

Los Angeles Sheriff Deputy Brian Hoist has been at LASD for 7 years, currently working at the Century Sheriff Station, and is new to mentoring at Operation Progress this year. He mentors Fredy in the 4th grade at St. Lawrence. He is extremely involved with Fredy’s life, creating lasting relationships with his family and taking him on fun outings. When asked about what inspired him to mentor, Hoist said, “I believe that positively impacting the youth at a young age can lead to positive change in the world.” He challenges Fredy to work hard at school, especially in his hardest subject, math, and constantly reminds him that his dreams of are within reach if he puts the effort in. Hoist wants to “encourage other mentors to continue dedicating their time to these bright students. With OP, mentors can lay the foundation into positively changing families’ future generations.” Thank you Deputy Hoist for your dedication and advocacy of our program!


Officer Phillips – April’s Mentor of the Month

LAPD Officer Kia Phillips, mentor to Alana in the 5th grade, has been a consistently supportive figure in her mentee’s life ever since she signed on to mentor with Operation Progress. The two first bonded over their love of sports, which Phillips played in college. This quickly led to Alana joining the basketball program Officer Phillips coaches in the community. She sees Alana on a weekly basis and regularly checks in with Alana’s family. Phillip’s has done a phenomenal job in providing a safe space for Alana to open up and be herself. Through her mentorship and coaching, Phillips is a great example of a CSP Officer that has truly taken the extra steps to build trusting relationships in the community she serves. Thank you Officer Phillips for all you do for your mentee and the community!


Andrew R. – April’s Scholar of the Month

Andrew is an 8th grade Operation Progress Scholar and has been apart of OP for 6 years. Andrew has maintained a 3.0 GPA this year and currently has 100% programming attendance in the My Own Business Institute program. His favorite subject is math and he wants to go on to study computer science in college with hopes of being a videogame programmer. In his spare time, he likes to play video games and practice coding with his uncle. Congratulations Andrew!


LA Clippers SciFest

This past Saturday, a few OP Scholars and mentors went to the Clippers SciFest, a Southern California science and engineering festival at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The goal of the Clippers SciFest SoCal is to inspire a new generation of STEM professionals in the SoCal area.


44th District Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán Visits OP

U.S. Representative for California’s 44th congressional district Nanette Diaz Barragán stopped by the Operation Progress offices to speak with our Scholars, staff, and mentors. It was a great opportunity for our Scholars to share their stories with their representative and for them to ask her questions about her role in Congress. We want to thank Congresswoman Barragán and her team for visiting and taking the time to learn about our program. 


Parent Spotlight: Maria F.

Family is everything to Maria. Mother of two OP scholars, Alexa (4th grade) and Sergio (6th grade), who are both enrolled at St. Lawrence, Maria has lived in Watts for 15 years, but comes from a small town in Jalisco, Mexico. She describes her upbringing as coming from “a very humble family and good people. My parents are in Mexico, but here in the U.S. I have four sisters, one brother, and my kids.” When asked about her own interests, she mentions how she enjoys hiking in the mountains, but says “the thing I really enjoy is spending time with my family. I enjoy everything as long as my kids are by my side.”

Maria and her family learned about Operation Progress from one of Sergio’s teachers, Ms. Cynthia, and now have been a part of Operation Progress for three years. When asked how Operation Progress has impacted their lives, she smiles, saying Operation Progress is “wonderful. It has totally changed my life.” She adds, “The kids are always talking about the program, what they do, their teachers they have in the program.” Since joining Operation Progress, Maria has also seen “a big change in school. Everything is good for them.”

Maria knows that being a mother is hard work, but she is always focused on making sure she gives her kids “attention, love, and care each day.” She wants her kids to work hard to become professionals so they can use the skills they learn in school and Operation Progress to help the community “just like they are being helped now by [Operation Progress].” Maria has shown her kids this by example. She has been active in volunteering in Operation Progress events, most recently being a great team player helping with last year’s Holiday Party, and is a strong leader in Operation Progress’ Parent Guild.

While Maria is working hard every day to make sure her kids have every opportunity to succeed in life, she is also working hard to spread the word about Operation Progress to other parents so they can help their kids in the same way she has. When discussing Operation Progress to her friends and other parents, she says “[Operation Progress] is really both for the kids and the parents.” She speaks with joy about the variety of classes both the parents and kids take during different Operation Progress workshops, specifically mentioning how much she loves Operation Progress’ painting class. Maria knows that no parent is perfect, but she is always trying to learn new things and different ways of staying on top of her kids.

Family is everything to Maria Felipe, and we are grateful she has welcomed us at Operation Progress into her family. Thank you for everything you do, Maria!

-Written by OP Intern, Ryan Pape


5th Grade Girls in BLOOM tried Jiu-Jitsu

This past Saturday, our 5th grade girls in our BLOOM program, a social-emotional program to combat bullying in middle school for girls, went to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class at Carlson Gracie Paramount. The gym donated gloves as well as the class. The girls were hesitant to try martial arts but all came out with smiles on their faces and an interest in trying it again.