Poor Palo Alto kid harnesses lessons learned into career of social justice

My time in high school

Attended high school in the

Overall high school experience
7/10. I had it rough as a poor kid in Palo Alto. I received free lunch and didn't have the same resources my classmates did. I also had a tough time balancing my studies with my social life. I often skipped class and rebelled quite a bit.

Grades in high school
B's and C's. Though I did well in primary school as a gifted and talented education student, I had a hard time with making academics my priority. I did extremely well in college once I made it a priority receiving a GPA of 3.9.


Favorite subjects
Math, Science

Struggled with...
I think I had a hard time with English as it didn't have definitive right and wrong answers. It wasn't a subject I could just study my way towards an A.

Favorite extracurricular
Sports / Recreation

Life since high school

Breaking away and following my passion while traveling the country trying to get the first Black President elected in 2008 was my first adventure that was completely my own and changed the trajectory of my life.

Attended college / university at
I initially went to Santa Barbara and San Diego to be with my high school friends. Unable to pay my way through college, I had to work full time which competed with school work. I then went on to work in the bay area as an admin. I then went back to school at Cañada College and then received a scholarship to Notre Dame de Namur University where I majored in Biology.

Post-graduate education or training
I am now working on a case study of a particular political experience to apply for graduate school, either as a PhD or a MPP.

Places lived in US
California, District of Columbia (Washington D.C.), Montana, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas

Current occupations / past occupations
I am the Director of Mobilization for a Kids Advocacy group. I have been a Campaign Manager for a Congressional race and I have been a Field Director for a Presidential race. I have been a confidential assistant for a Labor Union. I have volunteered for the Democratic Party.

Industries I've worked in
- Other Services (except Public Administration) (e.g. Repair, Salon, Political/Labor orgs, etc.)
- Public Administration (e.g. Government, Police, Judicial, etc.)
- Political Campaigns

Did your education prepare you for your career or occupation?
I felt prepared with what I learned from high school for college and in fact felt better equipped than most other students when it came to proficiency. I also felt like I was more cultured than many. However, the most profound classes I have taken were in college: Liberation Theology and Bioethics. Both of these classes forced me to take a look at the world in a different way and to critically think about my expectations. I wish I had classes like those in High School.

Has your education or career/occupation trajectory ever changed? How?
I majored in Biology because it was a subject matter I was good at. However, what interested me most was politics. Even though I never formally studied politics ever, I found a career by way of being passionate about it.

A little introspection...

To me, being successful means...
Being financially stable doing something that makes you fairly happy doing.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I used to think it was one or the other, financially stable versus being happy with what you are doing, defined success. Since I have come to the conclusion that it's a fair balance of the two.

My greatest accomplishment to date and what I’ve learned from it
My greatest accomplishment was leaving Palo Alto and joining the Obama campaign. It was the first time I did something that had absolutely nothing to do with Palo Alto. Someone or something related to Palo Alto had dictated my life for years. Breaking away and following my passion while traveling the country trying to get the first Black President elected in 2008 was my first adventure that was completely my own and changed the trajectory of my life. 

My biggest mistake or regret so far and what I’ve learned from it
My biggest regret was not leaving the state for College. I learned so much traveling around this country. I wish I had taken a leap and attended college in any other state where I could expand my perspective more. 

An unexpected event that significantly changed my life and how it impacted me
My best friend from High School hung herself in 2000. After I mourned and felt responsible, I transformed that experience into one of motivation where I went back to school and realized quitting could never ever be an option. I had previously dropped out of college and was working as an admin in a booming economy. I realized that I had been committing suicide in a different kind of way. I had been giving up on trying to succeed. I went back to school and opted for a life of being change agent and a political operative. I was going to not only be a better person but I wanted to make my country and the world a better place. I have since graduated college and made electoral politics my career.

Anything else you'd like to share?
Where do I live now?.... Yup, I moved back to Palo Alto.

This alumni is open to your questions and follow-ups.
In order to protect anonymity, we will pass along your message and they can choose whether to respond.

My favorite spot in or around Palo Alto

Mitchell Park, from Dances at the old Mitchell Park Community Center to soccer practice to falling in love for the first time to attending the Chilli cook off every year, that park has been the backdrop for my childhood.