In California, only 4% of students transfer from community college to a four-year university in two years. Meet Luciano, the first Making Waves Academy graduate who—with support from his CAP coaches—transferred from Contra Costa College (CCC) to California State University, Sacramento (Sac State) in just two years.

Luciano is studying criminal justice (CRJ), a major he found out about at CCC when he took an introductory CRJ class. “I was learning the history of policing and it interested me,” he said. “I like police detective work—that’s what most appeals to me, being a detective and specializing in something. You’re able to get more in-depth. You’re going to crime scenes and picking up evidence.”

CRJ is different than the crime shows depict. “When I went to CCC, I learned about this thing called the CSI effect. I never and still don’t watch those types of shows,” says Luciano. “When you look at the show, you feel like you know it works, that crimes can get solved in an hour —that’s not the reality, it takes weeks or months to get a crime solved.”

A combination of planning and determination helped Luciano transfer from CCC to Sac State in just two years. “I was able to do that by having good support. [My CAP coach] pushed me to do the things I had to do and make a plan—I knew what classes I had to take, when I would take them, and if I don’t get into them, how to switch them out for other classes I needed in order to get 16 units per semester,” he says. He also took classes over the summer to get the credits he needed. “I was not really able to have a summer. I would finish the semester and classes started again. It involved not thinking about other things—I was thinking mostly about school and what was due and what quizzes were upcoming.”

Luciano also summoned an internal sense of determination. “I would see my friends at UCs and CSUs, and I felt I was missing out. I told myself when I get to CCC, I’m not going to be here forever. I want to get done with this as quickly as possible so I can go and experience that type of life. I pushed myself and CAP pushed me and kept me educated. At first as a student, I was like, how do you do this, how do you sign up for CCC? It was a very long process.”

After transferring to Sac State, Luciano had to make some adjustments, including more rigorous classes and a faster pace. “In high school, I wouldn’t say I was the best student. I wasn’t doing the extra effort, like doing all the reading. But in college, once you see a whole different type of teaching, you must read, or you will be lost the whole time during the lecture,” he said.

He also had to get used to living on campus. “Not living with my parents, I didn’t have that comfort, things like dinner and lunch. It was on me to get myself up and get to school,” he says.  Luciano now lives with three other Wave-Makers, one of whom is a fellow CRJ major. “He helps push me. We have a class together, and he pushes me to read the homework and not lose focus,” he says.

Luciano offers the following advice to other Wave-Makers looking to transfer from community college to a four-year school: “It’s not where you start, it’s where you end. It’s how much effort you put into where you start to get where you want to go. Be proud that you’re going to school.” He also encourages Wave-Makers to take advantage of the resources available to them. “The people at Making Waves who coach you, they’re going to be there for you no matter what. They will email you back,” he says. “At CCC not once did I worry about not having the money to pay for things because CAP gave me what I needed. I was able to pay for books stress-free. I compare this to people I know who didn’t have this support—they felt lost.”