When you think of the “helping” professions, a few examples might come to mind like nursing, medicine, social work or even law. But for A Bridge for Kids’ alumnus Salvador Terrones, it’s a commitment to giving back to his community that encouraged him to go into the business of helping people buy homes.
Terrones’ dedication to serving his community in National City comes from his personal experience as a low-income, first generation college-bound student who spent part of his childhood as a ward of the court under the foster care system. Fortunately, Terrones was placed with his grandmother who took on several roles including foster parent and legal guardian.
Just one year after moving in with his grandmother, Terrones started seventh grade at The Preuss School, where he first learned about A Bridge for Kids and the annual essay contest through his advisory class. Although his essay was not selected as the winner, it impressed the judges enough that he was invited to read it aloud at the annual DreamMakers fundraiser. By the end of the evening, Terrones received his very first sponsorship from Thad and Lettie Meyer, who continued to sponsor him throughout high school, helping him pay for college applications, lacrosse equipment and a class ring among other things.
For Terrones, this one act of kindness from two strangers had a ripple effect that led to college and beyond. “ABFK was the first time that somebody saw something in me, enough to give me a sponsorship. They paved the way for me in terms of recognizing my worth and my successes. They took a gamble on me without knowing much besides the story I shared with them.” That gamble ended up paying off in ways that he never would have imagined.
As a result of his sponsorship, Terrones quickly forged an important connection with A Bridge for Kids that has lasted to this day. One of the accomplishments he is most proud of is helping implement ABFK’s popular college tour program. “One day I mentioned to [Michael and Tammy Nance] that I’d love to visit colleges in California because it’s not normally an option for me or really for any low-income students.” Thanks to Terrones and the Nance family for their encouragement and backing, that initial idea for a college tour has grown into two annual college trips and countless life-changing experiences for other first-generation students.
“I had three or four friends who went on that [college] trip with me who ended up going to Chico State which they would’ve never thought of if they didn’t get the opportunity to travel. For someone who comes from a low-income community in San Diego to just roll the dice and say, ‘I want to go here’ before even visiting is hard. There are so many people whose families are fortunate enough to have the funds and the opportunity to send their kids to visit for the open houses before they make a decision. A lot of students at schools like The Preuss School don’t have that option. Everything is hearsay.”
The college tours lead many ABFK students to universities outside of Southern California. Terrones, however, decided to stay in his hometown to attend San Diego State University where he graduated with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Post-Secondary Education and Leadership. Throughout his four years at San Diego State, Terrones changed directions several times, often switching his major and area of study as his interests evolved.
Initially Terrones was interested in working in Student Support at the university level but realized that it didn’t resonate with him after participating in several internships and assistantships. Instead of giving up, he decided to pursue a different path altogether. During his junior year while taking classes at SDSU, he attended night school at Brightwood University in preparation for the Real Estate exam. After passing the exam and becoming a licensed Real Estate Agent, he decided to take an internship at a local mortgage company that encouraged him to get a license to become a Mortgage Loan Officer. All that hard work eventually paid off so that now, he can focus on giving back to his community by doing what he loves.
“No matter what I do, whether it be Real Estate or working at a university, one of the biggest takeaways that I get is helping other people. I’ve realized through my experience as a loan officer that one of the biggest investments that anyone will have is purchasing a home. I want to continue to impact more and more people as the years progress.”