Believe in Yourself and Be Optimistic. Speak Up!

My time in high school

Attended high school in the

Overall high school experience
5/10. I had friends and stayed true to myself but as most teenagers will attest to, it was hard.

Grades in high school
A's and B's. My parents did not push me to get all As and that helped me appreciate learning for the sake of learning rather than going to school to get good grades only to move on in life.


Favorite subjects
English, History / Social Studies, Foreign Language, Visual Arts

Struggled with...
In elementary school I was tracked to be in "B Lane" math and this made it difficult for me to believe in myself as a math student. Now, as a 6th grade teacher, I can see the error of the school system's ways in how they tracked kids. I love math and try to instill that love in the students I teach, and try to help them have a mindset that they can do it at their own pace, that it will come together, and understanding more challenging mathematical concepts is possible.

Life since high school

I learned a long time ago to not be scared of communicating (what have you got to lose?)... My biggest regrets probably have to do with just that - not taking the chance to say what I want when I thought it was important to do so.

Attended college / university at
I went to UC Santa Cruz and majored in Studio Art with an emphasis on ceramic sculpture. I chose UCSC because it was alternative and unique; there were no letter grades and back then it was small and primarily undergrad, and the focus was on different colleges within the larger campus.

Post-graduate education or training
At UCSC I did a 5th year post-baccalaureate program to get a certificate in art. Much later, I got my teaching credential at Sacramento State.

Places lived in US

Current occupations / past occupations
I am a 6th grade elementary school teacher and have taught in my district for 17 years. I am also a mother and a running coach with a local running store and am very involved in my community. Before this current rendition of my life, I lived in SF and was an artist and worked at Peet's Coffee (matching 401k, stock options, regular bonuses, health care, good tips, etc. The benefits were great for an artist.)

Industries I've worked in
- Retail Trade
- Educational Services
- Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

Did your education prepare you for your career or occupation?
Getting my teaching credential definitely prepared me for my career, but I was 30 years old when I made the decision that that's what I wanted to do. High school had nothing to do with it. College might not have, either.

Has your education or career/occupation trajectory ever changed? How?
I have always been an artist but have also known, for me, that making art was not a viable option for a career in terms of stability and comfort for my family. Through the years (in undergrad and afterwards) I have been an art teacher, so combining the two loves and pinpointing what it was I wanted to do was not too difficult. I cannot imagine doing anything else but teach. I have dreams of what I will do when I retire which are not necessarily related to education, but until then I am 100% satisfied with my choices. I love my job.

A little introspection...

To me, being successful means...
Being happy and content and enjoying life, living it to its fullest. Being able to relax if just for a moment and reflect on what I have, small or large, and feeling good about the choices I've made. It's about being grateful and being successful in LIFE, not necessarily a career. And life, to me, is not work. 

My definition of success has not changed over time. 
I assume that when I was younger (child/teen) I thought money meant success but I don't clearly recall any feelings one way or the other. It was hard to get away from seeing the wealth in Palo Alto and seeing what we did "not have" relative to others, in terms of material objects. My family and my friends' families were not rich and we lived in a neighborhood where grand homes, careers and money weren't flaunted and weren't a driving force. We didn't have as much as others but that was OK. My mom and dad did not espouse the idea that money equals success so in turn I was not raised to believe this. I am grateful for that and recognize the gift of growing up in PA and being comfortable and safe, while at the same time recognize that we were in a bubble and our perspectives are skewed because of that.

My greatest accomplishment to date and what I’ve learned from it
Staying true to myself and who I am without letting others get me down (as much as one can.) Having a positive outlook no matter what and being confident in my choices and my decisions. Optimism takes effort, and through many of life's trials and tribulations I have been steadfast. Other accomplishments are deciding to become a teacher when I was 30 and after that things just fell into place in a wonderful way. I also feel an accomplishment that I am raising my children to fully believe in themselves and to see the world as a place where they should help strive for social justice and to speak up to try to make a difference. 

My biggest mistake or regret so far and what I’ve learned from it
I learned a long time ago to not be scared of communicating (what have you got to lose?) and I try to take the opportunity to run with that key life lesson. My biggest regrets probably have to do with just that - not taking the chance to say what I want when I thought it was important to do so. I also try to embrace life and show others my appreciation for it all. 

This alumni is open to your questions and follow-ups.
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My favorite spot in or around Palo Alto

Foothills Park or the Baylands.