Struggling Students Helped By Bay Area Graduate Who Has Felt Their Pain

by Sherry Hu and Christina Arce

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Teenagers trying to land their first job face a challenge when it comes to putting together a resume, but who better to teach summer interns about cover letters and resumes than a fellow student?

Patricia Martinez, an alum of the Students Rising Above Class of 2015, smiles as she shared her satisfaction in “having all these people who, in a way, look up to me … but I look up to them as well.”

LEARN MORE: Students Rising Above

Patricia works with students as a summer program manager at Rising Sun Energy, an environmental non-profit organization.

“You can’t tell me my youth aren’t amazing and that they’re not struggling with their own struggles, because we all bring something to the table,” she said.

Patricia’s own life was often a struggle.

“My dad didn’t really hide his drug habit from me,” remembered Patricia. “My mom didn’t try to sugarcoat it, either.”

With her father in and out of jail and her mother working full-time, Patricia felt like a third parent as she had to care for five younger siblings.

“It taught me how to adapt, pay attention and listen,” she said.

The person she listened to most was her mother and most often, the talk was about education.

“My mom always talked to me as an adult and I remember I told her, ‘Mom, I want to be an artist.’ And she told me ‘No. Why don’t you be a CEO or president?’” she recalled. “People have always had the talk about college with me, it wasn’t a talk about sex, it was a talk about college.”

Now, as a sophomore at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, Patricia has gained perspective on the struggles in her life.

“The love you get from a dysfunctional family is so unique, you don’t find it anywhere else,” she said. “Even if they weren’t their best selves, they still showed up and they still pushed me further than they would push themselves and so I’m grateful for that.”

She’s also grateful for the chance to give back some day. Her dream? “I want to be someone’s ‘she-ro’ one day.”

More from Sherry Hu
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