Show cover of The College Match Podcast

The College Match Podcast

Every student has a story and every college is looking for a star student. The College Match podcast will introduce you to some of the most powerful student stories coming out of greater Los Angeles. What can our young generation, also known as Generation Z, teach us about grit and perseverance? What motivates our youth today? What does it mean to be “college ready” in this day and age? Join host Andrea Cova, College Match Counselor, as she unpacks these questions through powerful interviews with some of LAs young future leaders, working towards positive change inside and outside of the classroom. Each week she will introduce you to some of the challenges and obstacles students of this generation are facing while they navigate the daunting process of college applications and making college decisions. In addition, you will learn about some of the powerful contributions they are making in their community through innovative projects, advocacy, and student-led collaboration. This podcast will leave you feeling inspired, motivated and you may even relate to some of these incredible student stories. For more information visit


SEVDORA: The Power of Integrity.
“YOU HAVE TO VALUE INTEGRITY. IT’S LIKE DOING THE RIGHT THING WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING.” Get your tissues ready! Meet Sevdora, a young woman from Uzbekistan who moved to America when she was 12 years old. For most of her childhood, she lived with her grandparents and aunts in the countryside of Uzbekistan, traveling a total of 4 hours by bus with her cousin to school each day in the city.  When she was almost 5 years old, Sevdora’s mom moved to America to achieve the “American Dream” and ultimately to establish a life that would allow her to one day bring Sevdora. 7 years, and many obstacles later, her mom finally completed all the paperwork to bring Sevdora to America legally. After a long anticipated wait, Sevdora got on a plane for the first time, and began her journey to Los Angeles where her mom had started a whole new life.  In a few short years, Sevdora became fluent in English and excelled academically. She found her calling in Environmental Science and this year, despite the pandemic, led her Ocean Bowl team to a 3rd place win in the JPL Regional Competition! In addition to being the Team Captain, she has been really busy as a member of Bravo High School’s NErDy Club, the National Honors Society where she’s been volunteering at the LA Regional Food Bank and Excellibur, a student-made organization to close the gap in education and foster STEM interest. She is also a member of Bravo's Red Cross Club.  Sevdora was accepted to Dartmouth College through early decision and she will soon be joining the biggest College Match freshmen cohort this year. She was also recently notified of being selected to receive the 2021 PBWC Loren Mahon Book Scholarship Award and was invited to join the Professional Businesswomen of California’s 32nd annual conference in May.  We have no doubt that Sevdora will leave a lasting impression at Dartmouth and in her future career! **For a Video Version of Sevdora’s Podcast Interview, visit our College Match YouTube Page where you’ll be able to see a picture collage of Sevdora’s experiences and where you can also tune into our Virtual Graduation Ceremony that highlights where the rest of our College Match Class of 2021 are headed in the Fall.
29:09 05/25/2021
HARLEY FRANKEL: The Story Behind College Match and our Inspirational Founder
For the Season 2 Launch, Harley Frankel, Founder of College Match Los Angeles shares his powerful story and his inspiration behind the program has changed thousands of students’ lives.  Harley was recently called a “Social Impact Hero” by Authority Magazine for the impact he has made in our world.  He has an extensive resume including a BA in Political Science and BS in Applied Mathematics from Columbia University, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and several careers in public policy and professional sports management. Some of these jobs included serving as the General Manager for a professional sports team, the 1st U.S. Secretary of Education, the Executive Assistant to the U.S. Commissioner of Education, and he even helped get the Pell Grant Bill passed in 1974.  However, despite so many life changing careers, none compare to his time in College Match. In his words, “The career that he’s the most proud of is starting College Match and meeting so many wonderful students and their families.”  Also the first in his family to attend college, Harley had to find his place in higher education by being a strong self-advocate and appreciating the power of his network. When he started College Match, he saw many similarities in his own life to those of the first-generation students he worked with.   During the interview, Harley shares details about his past, where he grew up, and how his time working in Washington DC led him to a career in Education. He also explains why after several years working as a General Manager for a professional sports team, he decided to shift courses by starting College Match LA to dedicate his life to helping low-income, first generation students access their rightful spot at some of the best private colleges in the United States.  Tune in for more information about Harley’s career journey and hear first-hand from several College Match alumni about the impact Harley has made in their lives.  **For a Video Version of Harley’s Podcast Interview, visit our College Match YouTube Page where you’ll be able to see pictures of Harley as a child and a close-up look at his cherished retirement gift, a handmade blanket that College Match Alumna Karina Pichardo and her mom created using college t-shirts. If you’d like to learn more about College Match LA, visit
48:06 03/30/2021
EDDY: The Importance of Self Advocacy and Financial Planning
“SCHOOL HAS REALLY ELEVATED WHO I AM.”  Meet Eddy, a true change-maker who exemplifies the power of self advocacy and determination. He is proud of his Mexican roots and comes from very humble beginnings.  When he entered high school, he was told that he was not placed in AP or Honors courses because when he was younger, he did not “test” into gifted classes. When he realized that label had followed him to high school, he dedicated his high school career to changing that. Since then, he has taken and passed 11 College Courses, secured a top spot in his graduating class, taken all the AP and Honors classes his school offers and plays a key role on his Varsity Football team. One of his proudest accomplishments was starting the first Business Club at his high school that focuses on teaching his peers the importance of financial planning, investing and saving.  In this emotional and heartfelt interview, Eddy credits a lot of his qualities to the powerful women in his life, especially his mom, aunts and grandma who helped raise him. He also recalls a series of memories as a child and a student that have shaped who he is today.  Eddy strives to one day come back to his community and continue to teach financial planning. He wants his peers to know that you can start investing and financial planning at any age. You don’t have to be a rich millionaire to plan a financial future.  Eddy also believes in the power of building genuine connections and getting involved. In his words, “Honestly, if you get involved, it could be one of the best experiences of your young adult life.”  His energy and genuine nature as a young male of color is inspiring to say the least. We have no doubt that Eddy will leave a lasting impression wherever he goes to college!  **For a Video Version of Eddy’s Podcast Interview, visit our College Match YouTube Page where you’ll be able to see a picture collage of Eddy’s childhood and much more. If you’d like to learn more about College Match LA, visit
28:39 09/21/2020
*ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT* - ESMERALDA: Yale Class of 2020 and Chemical Engineer
“MY DREAM IS TO WORK AT BOEING AND GIVE BACK TO MY COMMUNITY THROUGH MY JOB.”  Meet Esmeralda, one incredibly resilient young woman who was the only Latina Chemical Engineer in her graduating class at Yale University. She was also one of a few women in the program altogether. She has one powerful story to share.  Esmeralda credits her motivation and drive for success to her parents. They laid a humble foundation for Esmeralda and inspired her and her brother to go to college.  Her dad was a garment and factory worker and was the sole provider for their household. She often accompanied him to work where she saw first-hand the harsh conditions her father had to work in.  Earning 10 cents a garment, she knew that her father always deserved a better life.     When she was a sophomore at Bravo Medical Magnet High School, Esmeralda was introduced to College Match Los Angeles. Thanks to the support of her College Match Counselor, Michelle, she earned an admitted spot in 6 of the Ivy League Universities including Columbia, Princeton, Brown, UPenn, Dartmouth and Yale! In the end, Yale offered her the best financial aid package and she found them to be her “best fit” when it came to the campus environment.  Esmeralda had just started her final semester at Yale when COVID-19 hit.  Due to the pandemic, she was forced to shift to online learning and did not have a traditional Yale graduation ceremony. Sadly, her graduation would have been the first time her parents visited Yale. They never had a chance to experience their daughter’s huge milestone.   Despite some setbacks along the way, Esmeralda has always pushed through. She is an avid runner and has run 2 LA Marathons! As a Chemical Engineer, she dreams of working at Boeing while giving back to her community and supporting other first-generation Latina in STEM find a voice. She will surely leave an incredible impact in any company, just like she has done with College Match!  **For a Video Version of Esmeralda’s Podcast Interview, visit our College Match YouTube Page where you’ll be able to see pictures of her in action and much more. And if you’d like to learn more about College Match LA, visit
46:22 09/07/2020
AIRIN AND ABIGAIL: Mariposas in Action and The Period Poverty Project
“DREAMS AND ACTION MUST BE WOVEN TOGETHER” Meet Airin and Abby, two young leaders in Los Angeles who apart, have their own unique talents and interests, but together, are a powerful duo that radiates with hope and positivity. They have joined forces during high school to create two impactful programs called Mariposas in Action and The Period Poverty Project.   Mariposas in Action is a student led, support group for rising first generation college students.  Their motto is “For Youth By Youth” and was started to spread the word about college access and success for students who do not have access to resources in their community. Using what they learn from College Match and other college access programs they are part of, they then bring that information to their peers. Very much a “Pay It Forward” mentality! Follow them @mariposasinaction to learn more! The Period Poverty Project is a collective effort to spread awareness about Assembly Bill 10 and the fundamental rights young women have to easily access feminine hygiene products at their high school. Together, Abby and Airin fought to get dispensers installed in at least 50% of the restrooms on their high school campus and are now creating a toolkit for other high school students to do the same.  Additionally, they have brought their efforts to the streets by creating care packages for the homeless and more vulnerable populations who do not have easy access to feminine hygiene products. To learn more about this effort, follow them on Instagram @periodprojectla and check out the website they created at   You can also help them spread joy to the community by donating to their GoFundMe Page at They are both very unique individuals outside of the classroom!  Airin believes in the power of storytelling and is very close to her Mexican roots.  She aspires to study politics and public health and wants nothing more than to make her parents proud and pass on this powerful message to peers: “Si Se Puede/Yes You Can!” Abby is very active in her church community and aspires to become a pediatrician one day. Her parents are from Guatemala and have passed on a strong sense of gratitude for all she’s been blessed with. In her words, “I possess the ability to become what I am destined to be.”  Both the first in their families to pursue a higher education, they will both surely make a lasting impact on their future college campuses next year.   **For a Video Version of Airin and Abby’s Podcast Interview, visit our College Match YouTube Page where you’ll be able to see pictures of them in action and much more. And if you’d like to learn more about College Match LA, visit
40:32 07/28/2020
BLANCA: Lessons From a Young Entrepreneur and The Student Wellness Campaign
“WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER” Meet Blanca, a young entrepreneur from Lawndale California.  Blanca is determined to be the best first in her family to attend college where she plans on exploring majors in either psychology or biology (with the hopes of a pre-med track).  Blanca grew up with what she calls the “Goalkeeper Mindset,” relating it to some of the leadership roles she’s taken on in her family, at her school, and within her community. The Goalkeeper Mindset is one in which all the pressure is on you, the individual, to make the right move or decision that’s best for the team.  However, when her father overcame a major medical scare, she realized that there is more to teamwork than just blocking a goal. Blanca was there for every step of her father’s recovery, serving as the main translator between him and the nurses. She also realized during that time the importance of asking for help and seeking resources when she started feeling overwhelmed.  Tune in to learn how helping her father build his business, the Impact Goalkeeper Academy, empowered her and a friend to start a small candle business of their own called Our Creations Co.  Additionally, she attributes a lot of her journey to one of her favorite teachers, Mr. McCurry and the profound impact her school, Environmental Charter High School, has had on her growth. *Special Thanks to Mr. McCurry for making a guest appearance on this episode.   Blanca started a Wellness Campaign at her school and is an active member of the Student Equity Team, which was created to bridge the student voice on campus with that of administration.   Blanca truly believes in the power of voice and her core values are centered around wellness, mindfulness and writing. There is no doubt she will make a lasting impact on her college next year!  **For a Video Version of Blanca’s Podcast Interview, visit our College Match YouTube Page where you’ll be able to see pictures of Blanca in action and much more. And for more information about College Match Los Angeles, visit
31:23 07/20/2020
MARTYN: Lessons From a Young Gardener and The Power of Networking
“BIG CHANGE HAPPENS WHEN YOU TAKE BIG STEPS”  Meet Martyn, a young student leader from Boyle Heights who is determined to attend a college that matches his love for engineering and drive for community change. Martyn grew up as his dad’s “right hand man,” traveling around Los Angeles as a hardworking gardener since he was 7 years old. Along with the special skills of planting, tilling, and seeding- Martyn also grew up to realize there were other ways he could support his family, and that’s through education and networking. Martyn is incredibly driven and dedicated to being a strong example for his younger sister. He’s become, in so many ways, the “rock” of his family.  He has made a lasting impact at his school and in his community. He is proud of where he comes from and believes strongly in changing the negative stigma that’s attached to Boyle Heights and the diverse community members he’s grown to cherish and love. He also loves to bring people together! His networking started when he began to plan “meetups” around Los Angeles with his friends, highlighting the beauty of places like Koreatown, Chinatown and more.  During his internship with the Green Dot School District, he witnessed first hand the power of his networking skills. With the support of his supervisor, he started a series of informational interviews called “Coffee Chats” to get to know his co-workers and to understand the different careers they hold within the district. His goal was to find at least one person who was linked to an engineer, which is his dream career. Thanks to some connections, he finally met an engineer and their conversation inspired him so much that he enrolled in a coding class at East Los Angeles Community College to learn more.  Martyn is extremely thoughtful and always puts his family’s needs before his own. Now it’s his turn to pursue another of his admirable goals, and that’s to be the first in his family to earn a higher education degree. There is no doubt he will find an incredible college next year!   **For a Video Version of Martyn’s Podcast Interview, visit our College Match YouTube Page where you’ll be able to see pictures of Martyn in action and much more. 
26:03 07/13/2020
REYNA: Environmental Activism, Social Justice and Her Self Love Page
“I AM MADE OF ALL THINGS THIS WORLD COULDN’T TAKE FROM ME.” Meet Reyna, a young environmental activist and social justice advocate from South Central Los Angeles. She’ll be applying to college next year and is determined to find a college that matches her passions for environmental sustainability and spreading self love. It is her dream to be the first in her family to earn a higher education degree.  Growing up, Reyna always had a close connection with the environment and her curiosity led to many life revelations. After enrolling in Diego Rivera’s Green Design STEAM Academy, Reyna was told that not only could she explore her interests in science, but that she would also be part of the honors program. That day sparked something in Reyna.  She began to see the value in her voice.  Since then, Reyna has become a young social activist. She is starting her own Intersectional Environmentalism Club at school where they will study how race, gender and class intersect to affect environmentalism.  Her club will not only focus on the connection between humans and the environment but she hopes to build the first sustainable garden on her campus.  Additionally, Reyna started her own Self Love social media page which has grown to impact hundreds of followers. In addition to Self Love, her page is now is fueled by social justice and Reyna has even attended several protests and marches to fight for the values she believes in such as climate change, women’s rights, and the current Black Lives Matter movement.  She loves to watch documentaries and listen to TED talks, which she’ll refer to in the interview.   In her words, “When you’re experiencing sad moments, it’s ok to feel them. But it’s also important to leave space for that happiness.” This episode will surely leave you inspired to practice more self love and kindness. It may also leave you wanting to learn more about the following people, documentaries, ideas, and organizations behind Reyna’s passion.   Greta Thunberg (TIME’s Person of the Year)- a young teen activist who has inspired Reyna to continue the fight for climate change.  50 Minutes to Save the World - A documentary on the impact of climate change.  Ron Finley and LA Green Grounds - A gentleman who started a sustainable garden in South Central Los Angeles and has inspired other Urban cities to grow sustainably.  To learn more about Oscar and our college access program, College Match, visit **For a Video Version of Reyna’s Podcast Interview, visit our College Match Youtube Page where you’ll be able to see pictures of Reyna in action.
24:37 07/06/2020
OSCAR: Hydrogen Powered Cars and the COVID-19 Relief Project
“I WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD AS IT IS TODAY.”  Meet Oscar, a change-maker inside the classroom and internationally! He’ll be applying to college next year and is determined to be the first in his family to earn a college degree.  When it came time for Oscar to choose a high school, he knew he wanted to attend one that had a Science focus, even if it meant that he had to travel farther, work harder, and make certain sacrifices. With the support of his family, principal, and teachers, Oscar and his Hydrogen Car Team from STEAM Legacy High School became the 2019 WORLD CHAMPIONS of the Horizon Hydrogen Grand Prix - a competition that took place in the Czech Republic. Living up to their high school name, his team beat 9 other countries, truly leaving a lasting legacy for other first-generation, under-resourced students in Los Angeles.  While they were invited to go back to compete again this year, COVID-19 derailed those plans. Instead, Oscar reacted as quickly as any engineer would, and came up with a plan to create reusable masks and face-shields for his community, using a 3D Printer and the leftover supplies from his school. Currently in production, the masks will solve a problem that his low income community is currently facing- finding the appropriate PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) to combat the virus.  Tune in to learn more about Oscar’s humble background, his journey to the World Championship, and his new COVID-19 relief project.  This young man truly exemplifies Leadership and is looking for a college that matches his ambition and passion for climate change. In his words, “I’ve always thought that a sustainable future is attainable, but we need to start now and I want to be part of the generation that helps create change.” This episode will surely leave you feeling inspired and empowered to learn more about the future of Hydrogen Powered Cars!  To learn more about Oscar and our college access program, College Match, visit  **For a Video Version of Oscar’s Podcast Interview, visit our College Match Youtube Page where you’ll be able to see a prototype of the face mask Oscar designed, photos of the cars he’s restoring, and much more.  
29:01 06/29/2020
College Match Podcast Introduction
In this introductory episode, you will learn more about College Match and the student inspirations behind this podcast. I will also discuss why was the podcast was created, why our students need a platform to share their stories and why programs like College Match Los Angeles are so important.  Join me, Andrea Cova, one of the Counselors at College Match, on this journey as I conduct powerful interviews with some of LAs young future leaders, working towards positive change inside and outside of the classroom. The students will describe some of the impactful projects they are working on through innovation, student collaboration and advocacy. For more information about College Match and to find ways to support the students you hear from on this podcast, visit and follow us on Instagram and Facebook at @cmatchla.
10:04 06/22/2020