Class of 2012
Meet the Students Rising Above Class of 2012
Anastasia Abello | Oakland Aviation High School
Anastasia has come from a life of poverty and struggle. A few years ago, she was diagnosed with Cancer. After a hard fight against the disease, Anastasia has won the battle and is looking forward to going on to college. She has dreams of becoming a doctor in order to give hope and help others suffering from chronic diseases.
Ruthie Ali | Gunderson High School
With much compassion and maturity, Ruthie stands tall and is rising above the hardships at home. She strives to succeed and wants to make an impact by giving hope to others and helping them find their strengths to persevere. Ruthie is excited and ready to go to college.
Carol Ashley | Oakland Technical High School
Carol grew up watching her mother suffer from Lupus. At the age of 10, Carol’s mother passed away. Carol now strives to become a role model for her sister, and wants to go to college to achieve her dream, and her mother’s, of a college education.
Cristina Avina | Live Oak High School
Cristina grew up with an alcoholic father. After making the decision to leave the chaotic home environment, Cristina’s family became homeless, but she found hope in education. Cristina is driven by learning, and is passionate about making her future all that she dreams of.
Jasmine Alvarez | Milpitas High School
Jasmine is a motivated girl who has seen her father go in and out of jail all of her life. She has grown up with a mother who was rarely present. Jasmine and her siblings are raising themselves, and she is determined to go to college to become a pediatrician.
Alex Arango | Pioneer High School
Alex was born in a small village of Columbia. Alex came to this country in 2002 and struggled with assimilating into a life far different from the one back home. He has worked hard and stayed focused maintaining a GPA of 3.9. Alex is ready to move forward to college and make his family proud.
Francisco Arce | Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy
Francisco knows exactly what it is like to live in a neighborhood full of violence. At the age of 13, Francisco was a victim of a drive-by shooting in Oakland. He now is reaching for the stars, and is ready to go to college and be an inspiration to others.
Sergio Baez | KIPP San Jose Collegiate
Sergio’s family has struggled with homelessness all of his life. Having begun his childhood as a migrant farm worker, he knows what it means to work hard and provide for himself and his family. Sergio continues to work hard in school in the hopes of one day pulling his mother, who suffers from diabetes, and his younger brother, out of poverty. He is ready for college and to shine bright.
Gemma Bolanos | Sonoma Valley High School
Determined and excited, Gemma is ready to go to college. Having grown up taking care of her siblings while her mother, a single parent, worked to provide for the family, Gemma understands what it means to be responsible. She hopes to be a great role model for her family and continue to be a great leader for those in her community.
Miranda Calderon | Hillsdale High School
Miranda grew up without a father figure in her life. She helps her mother clean houses while attending school and maintaining a strong GPA. Although Miranda’s life hasn’t been easy, she says she wouldn’t change a thing because it has motivated her to fight for a better life for her family. Her leadership skills and resiliency stand out, and she is determined to achieve her goal of going to college.
Dion Campbell | MetWest High School
Dion is a smart and dedicated young girl who has struggled with the hardships of poverty and violence in her community. She is a leader, who has done incredibly well at her internships and at school. Dion hopes to give her mother a better life by achieving her dream of going to college. She is strong-minded, and is paving the road for a successful future.
David Colby | Hercules Middle/High School
David is an intelligent young man who has struggled to survive most of his life. He has lived in various foster homes since he was born. His mother, a drug addict, could not care for him. David is diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, but regardless, he has a 4.0 GPA and is taking college level courses. He dreams of going to college to study physics and religions, and is excited to take the next step in his future.
Marshon Darden-Smith | June Jordan School of Equity
Marshon grew up afraid of a mother addicted to drugs. She struggled to pull herself out of that environment, but she knew she had bigger dreams to achieve. She is using her experiences to motivate her towards higher education. She is involved in many projects that help her community. Marshon hopes to hold a seat in the United States Supreme Court one day, and is excited to begin that journey by attending college.
Deirdre Davis | Oakland High School
At the age of 11, Dierdre’s mother passed away. Dierdre was forced to grow up quickly and has continued to help her sister in raising her younger siblings and taking care of the house. She now looks forward to going to college and becoming a surgeon. She wants to give back to those she loves most, and inspire others to succeed along the way.
Enzo Delacroche | Bellarmine College Preparatory
Enzo is dedicated to making a better future for himself and for his family. He has watched his mother struggle financially most of his life as a house cleaner, and realized the importance of education early on in life. Enzo juggles both a job and school in order to help out at home, and still maintains a 3.9 GPA. He has a strong sense of responsibility and is excited to pursue a college education.
Imani Evans | Vista High School
Imani has grown up taking care of her mother who suffers from various medical conditions that have left her blind and immobile. Imani strives to be the best she can be, and finds strength in being her mother’s caretaker. Although Imani has faced many hardships, she finds motivation in music and art. She hopes to one day inspire others and serve those most in need. She knows a college education will help her achieve all her dreams.
Jimmie Falls | Archbishop Riordan High School
Jimmie has worked incredibly hard to get to where he is, and is driven to go to college. He has struggled with violence, homelessness, and an incarcerated father. Jimmie hasn’t let any of that stop him though, and has always seen education as his way out. Jimmie holds a strong presence in his school and is admired by many. He hopes to go to college and continue to find success in academics.
Nirvana Felix | Independence High School
Nirvana grew up in an environment which kept her uncertain of what tomorrow would bring. She struggled with poverty, homelessness, and unstable parents. Regardless, she has always had a desire to learn and become accomplished. Nirvana dreams of being a writer and knows that with a college education, she will be paving a road to a successful future.
Daniela Gomez | Eastside College Preparatory School
It has been four years since Daniela last saw her mother who was deported back to Mexico. Although Daniela struggles with the loss of her mother, she stays motivated by keeping her grades up and continuing her dreams of going to college. She has the drive to continue forward, and wants to be a role model for the rest of her family.
Veronica Hynson | Envision Academy of Arts & Technology
Born to a mother addicted to drugs and a father in prison, Veronica was raised by her grandmother. Her grandmother is now struggling with severe medical conditions and Veronica has taken on the role of providing and taking care of her while going to school full time. Although some days are much harder than others, she finds her inspiration in education. Veronica will be the first in her family to go to college, and she looks forward to being successful.
Analis Ibarra | Mercy High School
Analis has been surrounded by mental illness in her family most of her life. Regardless, she has kept her hope strong, and wants to be a psychologist for children from underserved populations. She will be the first from her family to go to college and continues to be a leader in her community.
Edith Jara | Adrian Wilcox High School
Edith has struggled with a broken family for many years. She has grown up taking care of her younger siblings, and still finds it hard to find to look back on all she has faced. She is staying active in school, and is using education as her escape from the negativity at home. Edith wants to go to college to make a better life for herself and her siblings.
Jessie Jimenez | Coliseum College Prep Academy
Growing up was not easy for Jessie. Neglect was a word she learned early on in life, and after years of struggles, she was transferred into foster care. School was her sanctuary and she didn’t let anything stop her from reaching her dreams. Jessie is determined to make a change, and give back to those who need it most. She is excited to go to college and succeed.
Edward Jackson | Envision Academy of Arts & Technology
Edward’s life changed dramatically when his mother became addicted to drugs. He found strength in academics, and found the resiliency to move ahead and fight for what he wanted. Edward is a leader at his school, and knows that college will give him the education he needs to become a leader in his community.
Eunique James | Fremont High School
Judging by Eunique’s beautiful smile, you would never know that most of her life she struggled with issues of neglect and abuse. Eunique is rising above and looking forward to the path a college education will provide her. She is plays sports, stays involved in school activities, and dreams big.
Ben Johnson | Berkeley High School
Violence and abuse surrounded Ben as a child, but growing up in a difficult environment didn’t stop him from aiming high. Ben is taking rigorous college level courses and is a leader among his peers. He has goals he is determined to reach, and knows that college is a critical next step.
Empris Johnson | Summit Preparatory High School
Living at home is difficult for Empris. She faces many obstacles in her daily life as she struggles daily. Empris knows her way out is through education and she is determined to make her dreams come true by going to college.
Robert Kennedy | Archbishop Hanna High School
With a father in jail, and a mother addicted to drugs, Robert has risen above and understands why an education is so important. Although the past is hard to reflect on, he uses is to push himself in school and towards his dream of a college education. Robert is doing very well in school, plays sports, and is ready to be a role model to others.
Cindy Khuu | Lowell High School
Cindy’s life changed dramatically when her mother passed away at an early age. Cindy had to stay strong, as she served as the primary translator for her family and a role model for her sister. Cindy is doing well in school, maintaining a 3.8 GPA and becoming a leader among her peers. Cindy is excited to attend college and she will be the first in her family to do so, something she is very proud of.
William Laughon | Richmond High School
With a 4.1 GPA, and a strong ambition for success, Will is reaching for the stars. Growing up was difficult, and Will knows what it means to work hard. Although daily life can be very challenging, Will is proud to say that he will be the first in his family to go to college. He is taking college level courses and stays actively involved in school. Will is a self-motivated leader, and will continue to shine as he moves forward towards college.
Ricky Luu | Skyline High School
After losing his mother to lung cancer, Ricky had to quickly learn how to take care of himself. Although Ricky faces many challenges in his daily life, he finds strength in opportunities to give back and create a change in his community. Ricky is inspired by challenging himself, and knows that college will provide him with plenty of opportunities to follow his dreams.
Hector Magana | Eastside College Preparatory School
Having lost his father to a car accident, Hector struggles everyday with a dark past, and the challenge of having to raise himself. This hasn’t stopped him from setting goals for himself and reaching them. Hector found his escape in learning. He is motivated to succeed and wants to be a role model for his siblings. His dream of going to college is just around the corner, and he is eager to see what his future holds.
Bladimir Martinez | Eastside College Preparatory School
Growing up in the Bay Area has not been easy for Bladimir. While he faced violence and poverty on a daily basis he never gave up on his goals for the future. Although Bladimir continues to face the challenges of living in a low-income family, he also knows the value of a good education. Bladimir is ready for college, and knows that he will achieve whatever he sets his mind to.
Olgaby Martinez | KIPP San Jose Collegiate
Olgaby has seen her family struggle to survive most of her life. She sees education as her way out, and she continues to motivate her self to do well in school in order to become successful. Olgaby is excited for college, and looks forward to inspiring others to follow their dreams as well.
Lindsay McCray | Eastside College Preparatory School
Lindsay is a bright young woman with a very difficult past. Her mother struggled with alcoholism. Lindsay has used these memories of her mother to move forward, and to strive to become a successful college graduate. Lindsay is enthusiastic about her education, and has set her mind to reaching all of her goals.
Bryan Medina | Mountain View High School
Bryan is driven and motivated to pursue his dreams. Growing up in Puerto Rico, he was exposed him to violence, drugs, and poverty, but that didn’t stop him. Bryan is staying active in school, a leader among his peers, and a role model to those around him. Bryan will be the first in his family to go to college, and he is ready to pave the way to a successful future.
Parwana Mohammad | Oakwood High School
Parwana’s family emigrated here from Afghanistan in hopes of a better life. Parwana is determined to make that dream come true. She is very active in school and maintains a strong GPA. Parwana knows the value of education, and is ready to tackle college head on.
Chrishanae Neal | Eastside College Preparatory School
Life was hard for Chrishanae growing up. Although violence was always surrounding her family, she kept her head up and set goals for herself. Chrishanae is learning to use the past to motivate her future. She is excited to go to college and be a role model for her sister. She is determined to be successful.
Kaimi Pham-Vu | Berkeley High School
Kaimi is the primary caregiver in his household. With his parents speaking limited English, and working hard to put food on the table, Kaimi takes care of his younger siblings and makes sure the house is in order. Kaimi has found the value of education in seeing his family struggle on a daily basis. He has now set his mind on achieving a college education, and wants to become doctor one day. Kiami is excited to get to and through college, in hopes of a better life for his family, and for himself.
Edward Nguyen | Mission San Jose High School
Edward is a shining leader among his peers. Although life at home has never been easy, being raised by a singe mother showed Edward the value of hard work. He was determined to take control of his family, became involved in leadership opportunities at his school, as well as work part time to help the family. Edward is now rising above and getting ready for college. His dream of attending law school continues to motivate him to fight hard against the poverty he experiences everyday.
Mayra Sainz | Notre Dame High School
Mayra has felt the effects of abandonment throughout her life. Although growing up without a father was difficult, she stayed strong for her mother. Mayra finds her passions in activities at school, and stays motivated to fulfill her dream of a college education. One day, she hopes to be a doctor, and helps those in most need. She is aiming high and dreaming big.
Alexia Segura | Notre Dame High School
Alexia has had to stay strong through issues of abandonment and abuse, but she is nothing short of a success. Alexia, a motivated and resilient young woman, has found peace in education. She wants to be a role model for her family and knows that college will help her achieve all of her dreams.
Qwanesha Smith | Antioch High School
Qwanesha knows firsthand the reality of what drugs and abuse will do to a family. Starting at a young age, Qwanesha was exposed to a father addicted to drugs and a mother raising a family on her own. She has a strong drive for success, and finds her passion in writing. Qwanesha is motivated to get to college and has a deep awareness of her goals.
Jonathan Szkup-Valdez | MetWest High School
Jonathan has grown up watching his parents go in and out of jail, and learned early on what it meant to be homeless. In spite of these circumstances, he uses his past to motivate him to create a better tomorrow. Jonathan understands the value in education and sees a college education as his escape.
Margaret Trees-Keenan | Clayton Valley High School
Maggie has grown up dealing with the destructive nature of drugs in her family. Early on, she learned what it meant to live in poverty and to go hungry. Although both of her parents are addicted to drugs, Maggie also knew that her way out was through education. Maggie is a leader among her peers, staying active in sports and extracurricular activities. Her dream is to go to college and study veterinary medicine and create a positive future for herself.
Alma Velasquez | Sonoma Valley High School
Alma has faced many challenges in her life, and although illness has haunted her family, she knows not to give up. She reminds herself daily of the importance of an education. Alma is anxiously awaiting her opportunity to go to college. She is guiding herself towards a successful future and can’t wait to see what is in store for her.
Mary Virbes | Holy Names High School
Mary has grown up living in the rough neighborhoods of Oakland after emigrating here from Central America with her parents in hopes of a better life. Drugs, violence, and poverty surround her on a daily basis, but she knows that college will be her way to rise above it all. She finds her motivation in leadership activities and sports at school. Mary has a drive to study law, and is excited to take the next steps towards her career.
Joseph Williams | Archbishop Riordan High School
Joe has been in foster care for many years. He has learned how to move around from place to place and adapt to new environments. Despite the instability in his life, Joe has been very committed to his education. He knows how important a college education will be in achieving his dreams. He is active in school and enjoys volunteering with organizations that help the needy.
Lily Xu | Lowell High School
With a father absent from her life, and a mother diagnosed with severe mental illness, Lily strives to be the best she can to create a strong, bright opportunity for herself. Although her memories of growing up are painful, she is on track and active at her school. Lily is a survivor, with high hopes of a great opportunities coming her way.
Jessamine Zamora | Menlo-Atherton High School
Jessamine had struggled with a drug addicted father and an abusive environment most of her life. The memories of a shattered family are painful, but she finds her way out of the pain through her education. Jessamine is eager to move into the next phase of her life. She is excited about going to college and can’t wait to explore all her options.