Motivation and commitment – those are the two main qualities that Francisco Dorame, the new director of the College Achievement Now (CAN) program at Allan Hancock College, is looking for in his students.

“Student growth takes time,” Dorame said, “but if they’re motivated and willing to stick with our program, we’ll give them the skills they need to be successful in life.”

The CAN program is funded by the United States Department of Education with the purpose of providing support to low-income and first-generation college students, students with limited English proficiency and/or disabled students.  At Allan Hancock College, 140 students each year can benefit from the program, which offers direct access to a designated counselor as well as priority registration and assistance in job searches and applying for scholarships.

This will be the first year of a planned five-year grant for the CAN program at Hancock, and Dorame plans to start off strong by implementing his own ‘student support action plan,’ a system that he started during his six years as the Transfer Achievement Program coordinator at Santa Barbara City College.  He was hired as the CAN director at Hancock in January 2011.

The action plan relies on setting goals, celebrating milestones and monitoring student’s progress closely, Dorame explained.  It is built on his years of experience in education and directly influenced by his own experiences as a student.

Those experiences include a time in his early teens when Dorame was acting out at school and failing his classes.  To fix the problem, his mother came to school with him every day for three months, standing over his shoulder as he completed his work.

“You can only imagine what that was like,” Dorame said.

His mother was committed to his education, and her tactic worked – until Dorame entered high school.  Once again, Dorame said, he drifted away from his studies until one of his teachers took an interest in him and became determined to help him succeed.

“He looked past high school, and said ‘hey let’s go for the gold medal and get you a bachelor’s degree,’” Dorame said.

Those two experiences shaped his own philosophies, Dorame said, and he became dedicated to helping other students get the same encouragement and support from which he benefited.

Students in the CAN program must have specific goals, including graduating from Hancock and transferring to a four-year university or working toward a vocational career such as auto technology.  What matters is that students have a purpose, Dorame said.  After deciding on a course of action, the CAN program team helps students plan their schedules and follows up with them regularly to keep them on track.

“These are students who haven’t had the advantages that a lot of their peers had before entering college, but they’re ready to learn, and we’re ready to help them reach their potential,” Dorame said.

It’s not too late for students to apply for the CAN program at Allan Hancock College.  To download an online application, go to, click the Student Services tab and select the link for AHC CAN.  Applications are also located on the Santa Maria Campus in building W, room 22.  For more information, call 922-6966 ext. 3434.