Four Soon-to-be-Grads Share Stories of Their Success


“At Civicorps I found the stability I craved – plus a place where I could show off my talents and excel.”

When I first came to Civicorps and went through orientation, we did an activity where we had to talk about our feelings in front of everybody. I was so used to shutting my emotions off that I couldn’t handle it, so I said I wasn’t going to do it and walked out.

Later on I realized I might not have this opportunity again, so I came back the next day and asked for another chance. When they let me back into the program, I decided I was going to do things right this time around.

Growing up, I had a lot of instability in my life. I was just a kid, but I had to move from one relative’s house to another because I had nowhere to stay long-term. That sort of life makes you grow up real fast.

At Civicorps I finally found the stability I craved – plus a place where I could show off my talents and excel. I went from not feeling motivated to wake up early, to having perfect attendance, making Honor Society multiple terms, and being awarded Corpsmember of the Quarter.

When I cross that stage it’s going to feel great to finally hold my diploma, but I know I’m not finished yet. I’m going to college to study business and psychology. The future used to seem uncertain, but at Civicorps I found a sense of myself that I can take with me everywhere.


“I can’t wait to walk the stage, receive my diploma and show my daughter, Gabriella, that there are no limits to what she can achieve once she sets her mind to it.”

My parents separated when I was younger and our family split apart. I remember spending a lot of time on my own growing up – feeling like if nobody else cared about whether I was in school, why should I?

I didn’t have the support of a family to keep me grounded when I was younger, but when my daughter came along, all of that changed. Suddenly I had a family – and a reason to go back to school. It was then that I decided that I would do whatever it takes to be the best mother and role model for her.

Being a part of the Civicorps family has been by far one of the best experiences of my life. Even though it’s not a typical high school, it gave me a glimpse of the high school experience that I missed out on. Plus the added benefits receiving counseling from the support staff and sharing classes with other moms who were also trying to make a change for their kids.

I’m proud to say that in the spring I will be a college student, and once I’m finished, a Registered Nurse. I can’t wait to walk the stage, receive my diploma and show my daughter, Gabriella, that there are no limits to what she can achieve once she sets her mind to it.


“Civicorps promised the opportunity to find a career path while I was in school – and it lived up to that promise. Now I know I want to pursue a career in IT and computer engineering.”

My mom and her sisters immigrated by boat from Laos to the United States. I’m the first generation in my family to be born here. Although I have six other siblings, I’m the oldest boy, and my mom expected me to set an example for my siblings.

Growing up in Oakland it was a challenge to stay out of trouble. When everyone you know is living the street life, you begin to think that’s the only way to make a living. Seeing someone close to me go to prison and another person die as a result of that life, I decided to make a change.

Civicorps promised the opportunity to find a career path while I was in school – and it lived up to that promise. Now I know I want to pursue a career in IT and computer engineering. After I graduate, I plan on enrolling in a Hack the Hood program to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and after that, college!

Out of seven kids, I will be the third person in the family to finish high school and the first boy to cross that graduation stage. My mom is a single parent and sacrificed so much for us. Now I feel like I can give something back to her by graduating and being successful in my career.


“Going through what I’ve been through and then completing this program has shown me how resilient I am.”

Growing up I lost a lot of people close to me due to violence. I don’t think there was a year that went by that I didn’t lose somebody. It made the thought of going to school seem pointless, so I just stopped going.

When I had my two baby boys, I suddenly had a renewed motivation to finish school. Once they were old enough to be in school during the day, I was determined to get my diploma so that I could provide a good life for them.

Everyone comes to Civicorps with their own challenges and I had mine, but the support at Civicorps is huge. The counseling I received from staff and teachers helped me get to where I wanted to be. Coming to Civicorps and completing this program after everything I’ve been through has shown me how resilient I am.

This experience inspired me to think about how I can help others in similar situations. After graduation, I want to take psychology classes at Merritt College and become a therapist. Everything I needed in my youth and everything I got at Civicorps – I want to be that resource for others.

Join us to cheer on all of our graduates as they cross the stage to receive their diplomas! 

Filed under: News, Student Spotlight

Corpsmember of the Quarter: Kiara Alexis

Every quarter, staff vote on a Corpsmember who demonstrates personal growth and program success to receive this prestigious award. For Summer Quarter (July, August, September), we honor Kiara Alexis.

At Civicorps Recycling, Kiara is a positive force – always teaching and mentoring her peers. In December, she will start a prestigious apprenticeship with Waste Management. She is excited to be a role model to other women who are interested in entering this male-dominated field.

Congratulations Kiara!

Filed under: Student Spotlight

Corpsmember of the Quarter: Faby Gonzalez

What is Corpsmember of the Quarter? Every quarter, staff vote on a Corpsmember who demonstrates personal growth and program success to receive this prestigious award. Spring Quarter (April, May, June), we honor Faby Gonzalez.


Faby Gonzalez is a great mediator. Her approach to handling difficult situations reflects a natural leadership among her peers. She negotiates differences in opinions and personalities among other Corpsmembers that help avoid unexpected conflicts on the job. Whenever at work, crews tend to run smoothly because she cares.

Congratulations Faby!

Filed under: Student Spotlight

Alumni Spotlight: "I'm more than just a category" by Mike Gomez

mike1All my life people have tried to categorize me. In elementary school I was put in the category of having a learning disability and people began expecting less of me. I dropped out of high school because I was tired of feeling like I wasn’t good enough.

Roaming the streets, I found temporary comfort in gang life. When I got in trouble, I realized I was just putting myself in another category that I didn’t want to be in. Friends of mine died in the street life and I gradually started yearning for something more.

I went back to my childhood church, hoping I might find some kind of purpose there. My pastor saw the potential in me to be a leader, and he helped me to see that I was more than the categories I had been placed in. I could learn when I was passionate about the subject. He told me to get a book about leadership so that I could help lead a seminar. Before long, I was going back to Barnes & Noble to read nearly all the books in the self-development section.

I read books by Dale Carnegie, Richard Covey – books on psychology and autobiographies of people I admired. It finally struck me – there’s nothing wrong with me or my ability to learn.

During my time at Civicorps, I was determined to show everyone that I could take the same classes as everyomike-gomezne else – and pass! I finished the program in 8 months – the fastest possible amount of time anyone can move through the program.

In college now, I have a 3.6 GPA – As and Bs! My time at Civicorps helped me see that I am a scholar. I want to study Administration of Justice at CSU East Bay so that I can enter a career that will allow me to serve my East Oakland community. Simultaneously, I have been and will continue to be a leader through my work with youth in my church.

I want to let other youth with similar beginnings to know that they are so much more than the categories others have tried to place them in.

Filed under: Student Spotlight

Soon-to-be-grads share what graduation means to them

“I’m stronger than I thought.”

There was a time back in middle school where I saw myself going to college – like my older sister did. I thought that if she could do it, so could I. Then something happened along the way. Difficulties at home took my focus away from school and I began to lose faith in myself.

Then I found out about Civicorps. Coming here has opened my eyes and made me realize I’m stronger than I thought. The connection I had with certain teachers – Ms. Yvette and my supervisor Maricela – helped me get through the discomforts at home and made me feel like I fit in here.

Since I started this program, I’ve dreamt of the day I could actually tell my mom “I made it.” She has done so much for me and my siblings and had so many struggles – I just want to give back to her in the way she’s given to us.

After graduation, I see myself working in a cement union apprenticeship and earning money to help my family, and in five years I see myself in college. Coming to Civicorps made me clear about what I want to do and the goals I have for myself.

“I want to be a role model for young adults who are in the same position I was in when I started Civicorps.”

One of my favorite quotes is: “Don’t let fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway, we might as well just put the passing time to the best use possible,” by Errol Nightingale.

Before I came to Civicorps, I couldn’t get the one-on-one help that I needed at my old school so I dropped out. I was supposed to graduate in 2014, but when I couldn’t walk with my class I felt really lost. However, in the midst of me trying to get my life together, I knew the only way I  start the life I wanted was through education.

I had a great experience at Civicorps – the job training center and academy changed my life. Civicorps has given me skills to succeed in life that I couldn’t get in a regular high school.

Five years from now I plan to be a black business owner who can be a role model and provide opportunities to young individuals who are in the same position I was in when I started Civicorps in 2015. Through my experience, I want them to see that no matter where we come from — we can be successful.

Becoming a 2017 graduate is my most memorable experience at Civicorps because I beat the odds. To the staff, I want to say thank you for seeing that I’m a brilliant young adult and for giving me the opportunity to shine.

“Just because I graduate doesn’t mean I’m done. I’m going to keep the same determination I have now so that I will be successful after Civicorps.”

Before Civicorps, I was homeless, worrying about where I would stay each night, and working to support my family. Then the first time I came to Civicorps, I was terminated – I wasn’t ready for the program yet. I used to dream about coming back to Civicorps – working on a crew and going to school. Then one day I got a call from one of the counselors that I was accepted back into the program. I was so excited to be back and this time I knew I would handle my business.

Civicorps has inspired me in many ways. I’ve become a better person while at Civicorps and I’ve learned from my mistakes. I make sure that I never miss a day of school or work. Three key strengths I learned from Civicorps are being punctual, taking responsibility, and perseverance.

I know that it doesn’t stop here for me. Just because I graduate doesn’t mean I’m done. I’m going to keep the same determination I have now so that I will be successful after Civicorps.

Working on a crew and going on kayaking and camping trips showed me that I love nature and wildlife and I plan to get into a career that involves working outdoors. I want to go to college and become a park ranger – and eventually buy a house for my family.

Faby Grad StoryFaby
“My mind is now set on college.”

Civicorps has changed my life completely and has been one of the major positive steps I’ve taken in my life.

Before I came to Civicorps, I was working full-time as a housekeeper in my own cleaning company. The work was tiring and stressful and I wasn’t happy doing it.

Deep down I knew that I could do so much better, but felt nervous about going back to school to get my diploma because I had been out for seven years.

Because of this amazing program, my mind is now set on going to college and becoming one of the best photographers in town with my own photography business.

Civicorps taught me how to stay positive as a crew leader even when things were hard, and I learned not to give up on what I really want because anything is possible!

Join us on Thursday, June 8th at 6pm at the Oakland Museum of California to celebrate the achievements of all of our talented grads!

Support youth and our program by donating today!

Filed under: Student Spotlight

Beating the odds and rising to distinction

“This month’s Most Improved Award for math goes to a student who was struggling at first, but he’s been working really hard and even asking for extra homework so he could get the concepts down – this goes out to Michael!” announced Civicorps Math Teacher, Andrew, at a Community Meeting back in February.

Just a month later, Michael was nominated by Civicorps staff as our first ever Corpsmember of the Quarter. Since enrolling at Civicorps, he’s made Honor Society every single term, passed all of his NWEA exams, and earned distinction on his work crew.

The strong and silent type, Michael is known by staff as someone whom they can count on to always act professionally and “get the job done.” Peel back the layers and you’ll find a brilliant, curious mind thirsting for knowledge.

“I’m interested in so many things: psychology, history…I’m still figuring out what I want to study when I go to college,” says Michael.

Planning for college is a long way from where his thoughts were just months ago. He came to Civicorps because he knew that if he didn’t make a change, he would likely face one of two common outcomes for young men in Oakland: dying or going to prison.

“I’m not trying to live that life that I was living before I came here – to be living on the street. Thank God neither of those two things happened before I could come here,” said Michael.

From the ages of 10 to 18, instability at home led Michael to be shuffled among relatives in different states, as far as Pennsylvania and Florida, each time ending in disappointment and upheaval when he would be sent somewhere new. He suffered academically as a result.

“I felt like the other schools I went to didn’t really care what I did once I got there, as long as I came to school,” Michael said. “Eventually I’d just sleep through my alarms and just not go. Civicorps was different though. The support you get here makes you want to come back and do right.”

When asked who his biggest influencer has been, Michael talks about Civicorps’ Dean of Students, Mr. Dunn. “He motivates me to come in and stay on top of everything. He reminds me of my uncle – that tough love style is what I was raised around.”

“I’m really proud of him,” Mr. Dunn said about Michael, “he has had a lot of rough times in his past, but ever since he made a commitment to the program, he’s been an excellent student – he’s had zero write-ups, has earned all kinds of awards, and I’m seeing him develop leadership qualities.”

Michael’s goal is to continue on with Civicorps through an internship when he graduates and to go to college, and we at Civicorps will do everything possible on our end to help him get there.

Donate today to support Michael on his path to graduation!


Filed under: Student Spotlight