“We all have responsibility to improve our communities. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” – Stevon Cook
September 25, 2018 marks an exciting day for Students Rising Above!
Stevon Cook, SRA alum, board member and CEO of Mission Bit, the San Francisco computer programming start-up, striving to eliminate the tech divide for youth living in poverty across the Bay Area, has been named President of the San Francisco Board of Education. Stevon succeeds Hydra Mendoza as the Board President.
With a deep-rooted commitment to creating opportunities for the next generation, Stevon has played an active role in Bay Area education and policy programs for over 10 years. Stevon is a third generation San Franciscan and alum of Thurgood Marshall High School. During his undergraduate years at Williams College in rural Massachusetts, he became active in business and a leader in a community service organization called the Griffin’s Society. Upon graduating with a degree in American Studies, Stevon returned to San Francisco to serve in the first graduating class of the Mayor’s City Hall Fellows program.
In 2016, Stevon was elected to the San Francisco Board of Education, most recently serving as Vice President and now as President on the Board of Education.
“Stevon has been part of the SRA family for over a decade and we are so thankful for his passion for the organization and commitment to making change,” said Carolina Martín, Students Rising Above Executive Director. “We are proud of everything Stevon has accomplished thus far, including the exciting announcement as the President of the San Francisco Board of Education. We’re looking forward to continuing this journey together, paving new pathways for our students across the Bay Area and beyond.”
It is because of our dedicated donors, supporters and partners that over 800 first-generation college students in and around the Bay Area have been able to pursue their dreams of obtaining a college degree, with little to no student loan debt.
Read on for an exclusive Q&A with Stevon to learn how he has gotten where he is today, and his vision for the future of education.
How have you accomplished all of your successes and milestones over the last decade?
Stevon: I’m driven by my deep-rooted passion for making an impact and leaving a legacy that my community can be proud of, as was true for my grandmother and great grandfather, who both lived every day to serve others.
I believe that I have an opportunity and responsibility to continue this legacy and be of service for the next generation.
What led to your interest and now leadership in politics, education and tech?
Stevon: At a young age, my grandmother introduced my sister and me to historical figures that had created social change. We spent much of our downtime writing and practicing public speaking.
It was my senior year at Thurgood Marshall High School when my interest in politics solidified, following a very public and nationally televised fight that broke out due to unrest in leadership of our school. This was when my urgency to perform well and create change set in.
It was my transition to Mission Bit, when I knew this was an exciting leadership opportunity to put things in the hands of young people, opening their minds and changing their future.
What does Students Rising Above mean to you?
Stevon: Students Rising Above means community. A community of individuals, all who have the same objective in mind – to provide opportunity for low-income, first-generation students to successfully go to and through college and transition into adult life.
I am so grateful for SRA’s commitment to me and helping lay the groundwork for my future. Students Rising Above provides such an incredible resource for today’s youth, who I truly believe are the future of this country.
Do you have tips for students who are pursuing an internship and / or entering the workforce?
Stevon: Beyond nailing down your resume and pitch, I always standby asking yourself one question: “how badly do I want this?” From there, go where there’s the greatest need and don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities.
What is your vision for the future of education?
Stevon: One of my top goals is to position our communities to do better for themselves, with the public school system being at the forefront and foundation to create this change.