Class of 2011
Meet the Students Rising Above Class of 2011
Alicia has seen the hardships her parents face as a result of a lack of education and is determined to find more stability and success. In addition to maintaining a 3.8 GPA in school, Alicia is also a member of her school’s basketball team and student council. She hopes to become a physician and will attend Yale University.
Four years ago, Ana left her parents in Guatemala and moved to the U.S. to live with her older sisters. Although she spoke no English, she worked hard to learn English to do well in school . She is now actively involved in many extracurricular activities including tutoring other students struggling to learn English. Ana hopes to study medicine and become a doctor to help underprivileged children. She will attend UC Riverside.
Anabel’s family has faced serious financial problems in the past. With a sick father, and a mother who pays all the bills, Anabel has the chance to continue her dream of going to college. Now at Eastside College Prep, Anabel lives in the dorms, and is seen as a leader among her peers. She will attend UC Merced.
As a little girl, Carina spent much of her free time working in her family’s grocery market which fostered a strong work ethic in her school work and extracurricular activities. In addition to maintaining a 3.6 GPA, she mentors and tutors underprivileged elementary students, is involved in her school’s student council and engineering club, and volunteers with a community service organization. She will attend Occidental College in the fall.
Chantel grew up having to deal with her addictive mother. She had to learn to cook, clean and take care of herself. Now at Eastside College Preparatory Academy, her life has changed for the better. She has a passion for the arts which has helped her to overcome her obstacles. In the fall, she’ll attend Long Beach State.
Char-leen moved around a lot as a child. With her parents both on drugs, Char-leen has turned her life around. She excels in school, is a part of many college programs, and will head to UC Berkeley.
Cindy grew up translating for her parents, who are Vietnamese immigrants. As an active member of school, she is on the track team, and is in the school orchestra. She will attend UCLA.
Growing up in poverty, Danny helped his mother earn money by delivering phone books and newspapers, and collecting cardboard late at night. While maintaining a GPA of 3.7, Danny is also active in many volunteer activities, extracurricular programs, and school clubs. When he graduates from UC Berkeley he hopes to inspire others from low-income backgrounds to pursue higher education.
Diem came from Vietnam with her father when she was fifteen years old and was forced to leave mother behind. Now she is unable to live with her father and is now living with friends. She is financially responsible for caring for herself. In addition to maintaining a 3.7 GPA, she volunteers at the library and is a member of her school’s Vietnamese club. She is going to UC Davis.
Estela and her family moved to the Bay Area to escape the danger and violence of their Los Angeles neighborhood. Now Estela is living in a three bedroom house with nine other people and does her best to focus on her schoolwork. Her father is unemployed and her mother works long hours, but Estela realizes that education can help her achieve great things. She’s been accepted to Brandeis University.
Fabiola maintains a GPA of 3.8 despite the worries she has about her family’s financial situation. When Fabiola was younger, she helped to care for her grandfather as he struggled with severe illness. She soon recognized that she had a passion for helping others and hopes to become a nurse. She is off to Whitman College.
Gerardo spends much of his free time volunteering at the Red Cross, his church, and participating in his school’s track team, band, and engineering club. He does this while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Although Gerardo is proud of the many obstacles he has overcome he is looking forward to the new challenges of attending Yale University in the fall.
Indra was born in a refugee camp in Eastern Nepal. When the camp burned down, his family lost everything, and moved into tents in the forest. He was able to immigrate to the USA in 2008. Now, he has a perfect 4.0 GPA, he will attend UC San Diego.
Irene grew up with an alcoholic father and was exposed to domestic violence at a young age. With her father now out of the picture, Irene and her mother struggle financially. Despite these hardships, Irene is determined to go to college. She enjoys helping others with disadvantages and would like to become a social worker. Irene will attend Sonoma State.
Jacky is the man of the house. He takes care of his mother as well as his three younger siblings. He attends the prestigious San Francisco University High, and is on full scholarship. He will attend Colgate University in the fall and major in Environmental studies.
Jeanette comes from a family of hard workers. She, herself, holds a consistent 4.0 GPA, holds a part time job, and takes care of her two younger brothers. She will attend UC Berkeley.
Jennifer grew up without a father figure in her life, and has been able to deal with this absence. She takes part in many extracurricular activities, and loves to take on new challenges. She is off to UC Santa Cruz in the fall.
Jennifer immigrated from Nigeria to Oakland. Now she is a peer tutor for her school. She is the president of her senior class, and has a 4.21 GPA. Jennifer was accepted to Stanford University.
Jenny assumes the responsibilities of a parent as her father is disabled and her mother works two jobs. In addition to translating for her parents and taking care of her younger brother, Jenny is an active youth member of her church, participates in extracurricular activities, and volunteers her time through community service. She loves studying psychology both in and out of the classroom and plans to go to UC San Diego.
Jonathan is a frequent visitor to emergency rooms and hospitals as his younger brother suffers from a serious medical condition. Despite his unpredictable schedule, living in a drug-infested neighborhood, and the financial hardships his family faces, Jonathan excels in school and maintains a GPA of 3.8. He will be the first in his family to attend college when he goes to UC Davis.
Jose holds an internship at Kaiser Permanente and has hopes of being a surgeon. He has one of the highest GPA’s in his class, and takes AP and Honors classes. Also a musician, Jose plays the bassoon and violin. He will attend UC Berkeley.
Karina and her family immigrated to the United States when she was 8 years old. Fueled by her grandfather’s death by a drunk driver who has never been punished for his crimes, Karina hopes to study law in order to help others find justice. She is involved in many school and community programs while maintaining a GPA above 4.0. She will attend UC Santa Barbara.
Overcoming abuse and abandonment from family members as well as financial hardship, Kejare has used her challenges in life to become motivated and self-reliant. She knows college will help her become stronger and more independent and hopes to continue to be a role model for her younger sister. She will go to UC Santa Cruz.
Life was hard for a young boy from Mexico. Luis joined a gang to find acceptance, and a sense of belonging, which ultimately led him down a path of self-destruction. A grandmother’s love was a beacon of hope. But when she died, things got worse. Luis moved to Hanna Boys’ Center which provided him with the support and structure he needed to focus on school and leave the influence of the gang behind. Through hard work and determination he graduated from high school and will attend Sonoma State.
When LaKisha’s grandfather passed away, she and her brother lost their caretaker and role model. Her older brother Damon became LaKisha’s new caretaker and the two siblings spent the next few years moving from apartment to apartment struggling financially but continuing to support each other. With SRA’s help, LaKisha now lives in a stable home with her foster parents. She hopes to become a pediatric nurse after attending college. LaKisha will attend San Jose State University.
Lejon grew up in Richmond, without a father. He learned a lot from his grandfather who taught him the importance of a strong work ethic. He hopes to become a psychologist, to help kids who have faced rough situations, like he did. He’s off to Sonoma State.
Lorrena is the co-founder and co-captain of her high school soccer team. After having a rough home life, she has been able to get through her struggles with her mother’s help, who she sees as inspiration. She will attend Chico State.
Lorita and her mother immigrated to the U.S. from Iran to escape an abusive father and the pressures of being Christian in a Muslim country. Now living in the United States, Lorita and her mother often struggle financially. Despite Lorita’s past experiences, she excels in school with a GPA of 3.9 and volunteers her time with community organizations. She will attend UC Davis in the fall.
Moneace Smith grew up in the Sunnydale projects, taking care of her younger siblings. She used school as an escape from her abusive mother who was addicted to drugs. Now Moneace is a ward of court. She excels in school with a 3.5 GPA and will attend college this fall. She will attend Purchase College in New York.
Monica’s family life is not typical. She used school as an escape, and has excelled greatly with a 3.6 GPA. Monica hopes to become a nurse in the future. She is attending Holy Names College.
Monika was born in India and moved to the United States with her family 5 years ago. In addition to her schoolwork, Monika has many responsibilities at home including serving as a translator for her parents who speak little English. Monika has found a passion in drawing and painting and hopes to become fluent in her fourth language. Monika will attend Sonoma State.
Navjot and her family came to the United States in hopes for a better future but found themselves homeless and in poverty shortly after arriving here. In addition to helping her father with his illness and assisting her older brother with his schoolwork, Navjot has and continues to overcome the gender inequalities in her culture. She hopes to become a pediatrician to help children in need. Navjot will attend UCLA.
Oscar moved to El Salvador when he was ten years old and at sixteen years of age he returned to the United States. Despite dealing with such a drastic change and facing the possibility that his father may be deported, Oscar maintains a 3.9 GPA and volunteers as a peer tutor. He is determined to become the first in his family to graduate from high school and college. He will attend Pitzer College.
Salote "Charlotte" Tenisi
When Charlotte’s family lost their house and had to move into a motel room, Charlotte took that opportunity to realize how important her family meant to her. She focused on working with disadvantaged families, bettering the environment, and reaching out to other students. She is looking forward to attending Colgate University.
Sara’s family life has always been complicated due to drugs. She acted as a parent to her mother, who is now absent in her life. Sara never let her family discourage her from being successful. She has developed and teaches a class at her high school, and is seen as a leader by her peers. She will attend UC Santa Cruz.
Stephanie has a 3.89 GPA and is the 3rd highest student in her class. She will attend UCLA in the fall, and follow in her older brothers footsteps.She is going to UC Berkeley.
Stephanie grew up without much money or stability at home but is focused on a better future. Leaving the hardships of her home life aside, Stephanie takes advantage of all the opportunities her school has to offer. She dances in a Latin dance team at school, volunteers as a math tutor, and maintains a 3.5 GPA. She going to Sacramento State.
Overcoming poverty, homelessness, racism, and exposure to drug addiction, Theresa recognizes that education is the key to overcoming her struggle. Theresa has a passion for technology and social justice and she hopes to explore these fields in college. She is looking forward to UC Berkeley in the fall.
Before attending Archbishop Hanna High School, Tony’s life was filled with negative influences. After his mother made the decision to send him to Hanna, he has been on the honor roll since freshman year, has taken part in student council, and danced for his school’s gala. He will attend Sonoma State.
Vanessa has not let neglect stop her from becoming a motivated and outspoken advocate for others. At school, Vanessa is involved in student government, acting as Vice President or President of her class throughout her high school years. She has a passion for learning about law and criminal justice and eager to attend UC Santa Cruz.
Vivian grew up in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, where fights, drug deals and prostitution occur everyday. But she is an honors student at Mercy High, and wants to be a pediatrician. She wants to go back to the Tenderloin and help other children there. She will attend UC Davis.
Despite a number of major obstacles in her life, Whitney has achieved great success. She has written numerous short stories that have been published and awarded. She is also a member of her school’s mock trial team, literary club, and the Conservation Corp’s youth program. Whitney does all this while completing various internships and maintaining a GPA of 4.46. She’ll attend UC Davis.
Yaritza spent most of her childhood moving back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico with her family. Now in a more stable environment, Yaritza is able to act as a role model for her younger siblings as well as younger students at her school. She looks forward to attending college to help her better support her family. She’s off to UC Riverside.