Celebrating SRA Alumni – Jose Iglesia

Jose’s journey has not been easy, nor linear. Jose took five and a half years to graduate, but he rose above his struggles with plenty of drive and commitment. He excelled at his internships with SRA corporate partners and highly impressed his internship supervisors — which is how he is now an employee at a major Silicon Valley tech firm! 



What was your journey like getting into the Students Rising Above program?

My former highschool, Arise High, had a couple of SRA scholars who spoke as SRA ambassadors.  I was quickly interested in the benefits that came with being an SRA student and that sparked me to apply.  Soon enough, I was told that I was a candidate for the upcoming year and that I was eligible for an interview.  I don’t recall specifically where the interview took place but I remember that I was confronted by a panel of about 6-9 people.  


Was there anyone specific at SRA that impacted you the most?

Yes, my SRA Advisor,  Lisa. She’s at the status of a parent to me.  Only a handful of people can make me cry with just words and she’s one of them.  Lisa has always been genuine with me and never treated me as just part of her work, which is essentially what I am.  I am not perfect, my journey as a student is not perfect and when I was at the worst parts of my journey, she never gave up on me.  She did discipline me with her talks but all of it was out of love.  


How did Students Rising Above affect or influence your career path?

SRA was the reason I landed my first internship before college.  I was interning at Kaiser Permanente under the Occupational Health Department.  From there on, I was just flooded with opportunities that were catered to my career and what I was pursuing. I went into UCSC as undeclared but once I decided what I wanted to major in, SRA was providing me with a plethora of opportunities that matched my skills and what I was learning. 


Will you tell us about your involvement in the Career Mentorship Program ?

Shawn is an awesome Mentor.  He invited me to the Zoom headquarters where I was introduced with love and kindness. 15 minutes into our meet up, I was introduced to the CEO, Eric Yuan, who took the elevator down with us to the lobby.  Shawn and I took e-scooters with some buddies of his to a small sandwich spot. My experience with him at Zoom was just incredible and unimaginable. 


What was the process like for you for securing your job?

I’ve been blessed to have always been busy during my summers.  If I wasn’t doing an internship, I was finishing up classes. The job I am currently in was actually out of the blue for me.  I was able to secure my spot by using the tools that SRA gave to me; be polite, be well spoken, represent yourself to the best of your capabilities, always say thank you, always follow up with thank you notes/emails and much, much more. 


What does Students Rising Above mean to you?

SRA means more to me than anyone can imagine. In simple words, SRA showed me the doors and let me know that I was capable of walking through them.  Then they let me do the rest. 


Do you have any advice for current SRA students?

My advice is that, we don’t know what everyone is going through—always be compassionate, selfless, and understanding.  This is what SRA lives by, it is what they’ve instilled in me and what I take with me everyday. The other piece of advice is that the only person you should ever try to be better than is yourself.  Never cap your expectations to the success of others, see what you can do yourself and work on always being a better you. 


Learn More about Jose’s Story on KPIX5: https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/06/19/students-rising-above-scholar-keeps-up-hard-work-during-summer/