"One Step Closer" by Norma

When I walk through the halls of Civicorps…

I take a moment…

and breathe.

I’ve made it!

My journey has brought me to a safe place. Two years ago I walked across the border, crossed the desert alone unaware of where I would end up. Today, I have persevered. Civicorps has become my second home.

When your family is three thousand miles away, it can be scary. In Guatemala, I had my parents guiding me. And now, my Civicorps teachers, counselors and peers have created a place of sanctuary. At Civicorps I am inspired to work hard and not give up. I have a support network that allows me to try new things. Most recently I played Hermia in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – something completely out of my comfort zone. I didn’t have my family present on opening night, but I had my Civicorps family.

“I have found a happy ending at Civicorps,
but in reality, it is just the beginning.”

Every moment I am at Civicorps, I know I am one step closer to earning my high school diploma. A dream come true.

If I was able to travel across countries and walk through the desert alone, I know I am capable of walking across the graduation stage with my high school diploma in my hand.  But this time, I will not be alone, because I will have my Civicorps family walking alongside me.*

Cuando camino por los pasillos de Civicorps…

tomo un momento…

y respiro.

                                                             ¡Lo hice!

Mi camino me ha llevado a un lugar seguro. Hace dos años crucé la frontera y camine el desierto, sola, sin saber dónde terminaría. Hoy, he perseverado. Civicorps se ha convertido en un segundo hogar.

Cuando tu familia está a tres mil millas de distancia, puede ser aterrador. En Guatemala, tuve a mis padres guiándome. Y ahora, mis maestros, consejeros y compañeros de clase han creado un lugar de santuario. En Civicorps estoy inspirada para trabajar duro y no rendirme. Tengo una red de apoyo que me permite probar cosas nuevas. Recientemente actué el papel de Hermia en “Sueño de Una Noche de Verano” una obra de William Shakespeare, algo completamente diferente a lo que estoy acostumbrada. No tenía a mi familia presente en la noche de estreno, pero sí la presencia de mi familia de Civicorps.

“He encontrado un final feliz en Civicorps, 
pero en realidad, es sólo el comienzo.”

Cada momento que estoy en Civicorps, sé que estoy un paso más cerca de obtener mi diploma. Un sueño hecho realidad.

He tomado un largo camino para llegar aquí, y sé que lograré caminar sobre el escenario de graduación con mi diploma en la mano. Pero esta vez, no estaré sola, porque tendré a mi familia de Civicorps caminando a mi lado.

*This interview with Norma was conducted all in Spanish.
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Corpsmember of the Quarter: Shaniya Burks

Shaniya Burks
Shaniya Burks

Every quarter, staff vote on a Corpsmember who demonstrates personal growth and program success to receive this prestigious award. For Fall Quarter (October, November, December), we honor Shaniya Burks.

Shaniya is a fierce Corpsmember winning over 10 awards at Civicorps and earning 5 tool certifications. As a Crew Leader she has inspired many, including our sponsors who have offered Shaniya interviews as soon as she crosses the graduation stage this June. Congrats Shaniya!

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Recycling Driver Kiara Selected as Corpsmember of the Year

Every year, The Corps Network chooses 6 youth from 130 Service and Conservation Corps across the country for the national Corpsmember of the Year award. Civicorps’ star Recycling Driver, Kiara, was chosen as a Corpsmember of the Year for her exemplary success at Civicorps Recycling and for being a role model to other women as she advances to her Waste Management union apprenticeship in 2018. Congrats Kiara!

Click below to read more about Kiara!

Filed under: News, Student Spotlight

Civicorps student, alumna, and crew supervisor share their stories with East Bay Times

Civicorps was recently selected as a recipient for an annual holiday grant called Share the Spirit, which is sponsored by the Bay Area News Group and benefits needy residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties by funding nonprofit holiday and outreach programs. As part of the grant, three current and former Civicorps corpsmembers were interviewed by the East Bay Times and shared their stories of strength and finding community at Civicorps.

Read the full story by clicking below!

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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