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Claremont student sets sights on land down under

Zip-lining above jungles and snorkeling through the reefs of Cancun is not a typical vacation itinerary for a young child. Most adults can’t say they have gone on adventures through Ireland and England. In the case of 10-year-old Jake De La Rosa, however, it is reality.

The young Claremont resident has gone on a few exotic vacations with his family, but has now been offered a golden opportunity as a student ambassador with People to People in their upcoming trip to Australia. With this golden opportunity comes a golden price tag and his mother, Monique De La Rosa, is looking to raise funds to help pay for the trip.

“I was freaking out at first because I had never heard of the program,” said Jake’s mother. “I did some research on it and after talking to one of his coaches and teachers and hearing that their kids went, it made me a lot more comfortable to let him go.”

People to People is a travel service that offers all-inclusive trips to children in grades 5-12 looking to enhance leadership skills and experiences in preparation for college. The organization offers travel to various destinations within seven continents and reports that 80 percent of their alumni are accepted into their first-choice college.

In 1962, the first People to People group traveled to its designated destination and, since then, more than 500,000 students have done the same. Tuition for the trips ranges from $4,000 to $8,000 and includes airfare, transportation, meals and living accommodations.

“I feel so excited and happy that I get to have this chance. I am used to traveling with my mom, so I am a little nervous. I get to see and study animals that I have never seen and explore the Great Barrier Reef,” explained Jake.

The De La Rosas are planning to have multiple fundraising events to help reach their goal, including a donation-based yoga class at a Bikram Yoga Covina on March 14 at 2 p.m. Anyone who attends the free class can donate whatever they’d like. with all proceeds going to Jake’s travel fund. In return, attendees can purchase an additional week of classes at the studio for $5. Another fundraiser in the works is a bake sale at The Upland Arena Indoor Sports Complex. The family has held private concerts for donations with close family and friends along with a Super Bowl pool with the $25 buy-ins going towards Jake’s upcoming adventure. So far, the De La Rosas have raised approximately $945 but still have more than $5,000 to go to reach their goal.

People to People also focuses on humanitarian efforts both overseas and close to home. Their upcoming project for local student ambassadors is The Bay Beach Clean up on April 18 in Santa Monica. While on their trip, the organization’s young delegates will also be devoting a portion of their time abroad to distributing supplies to rural schools and students in need.

Jake is an honor roll student at Mountain View Elementary School and plays on both The Arena’s soccer team and in Claremont’s Foothill Storm Soccer Club. He was nominated as student ambassador and his mother believes that his teachers are to thank.

“Claremont is a wonderful city to live in and a wonderful place to raise a son—every opportunity my son has had is because of it. His commitment to his education and sports is because of the community, and it’s making him become an amazing little man,” Jake’s mother enthused.

To be a student ambassador for People to People one must apply, pass a required interview with a program leader and submit two or three letters of recommendation. Requirements and application locations vary, depending on whether the student has been nominated for the experience or is applying without nomination.

On the itinerary for Jake’s trip to Australia is a backstage tour of the Sydney Opera House, animal encounters at a sanctuary, a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef and a trip to the Queensland Dairy Museum.

Jake and his mother have created a fundraising page at www.piggybackr.com/jakeyd where anyone can donate to his trip along with reading a more about him. Updates on upcoming fundraising activities can also be found on their website.

“Part of being a parent is to show that it is important to be supportive. He has been very thankful and appreciative for everything around him and everyone helping us out,” said Monique.

For more information about how to give to Jake’s fund, visit their fundraising page or email his mother at moniquedelarosa1@gmail.com.

—Veronica Orozco

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