As an eighth grader, Alex Cassadas earned mostly C’s, struggled with math, and came from a family where no one had a college degree. But a school assembly about a college readiness program changed the trajectory of his life.
“For me, it was the turning point,” Trustee Cassadas says of a program called Advancement Via Individual Determination. AVID is a national effort to help first-generation college students earn a degree.
After finishing the AVID program in high school, Cassadas went on to win a school board seat in his early twenties and become a human resources manager at a university.
Cassadas now represents Trustee Area #4 for the Banning Unified School District.
In pursuit of an education
Nearly two decades have passed since Cassadas sat in the auditorium at Nicolet Middle School for that AVID assembly. Now, students are automatically enrolled district-wide in the life-changing program.
In 2011, Cassadas earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB)—with a grade point average just .03 shy of graduating with honors. That same year, at 23 years old, Cassadas won a seat on the Banning School Board. In 2015, Cassadas earned a Master’s Degree in public administration at CSUSB, completing his studies with a 3.9 grade point average. He now works there as a human resources manager.
As a trustee, Cassadas often attends special AVID graduation ceremonies in Riverside to support and encourage students. It’s part of his guiding philosophy as a champion of education: