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Students Rising Above

Carlene Ervin (CBS)

Oakland Teen Overcomes Homelessness, Foster Homes To Graduate As Valedictorian; Headed To Yale

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Carlene Ervin graduated Valedictorian from Aspire Cal Prep Academy in Berkeley, to much applause. In her commencement speech, she quoted from one of her favorite books by Dr. Seuss, “Oh The […]


William Varner trains in Muay Thai with his coach Ivan Ramos in San Leandro. (CBS SF)

Fremont High School Valedictorian Overcomes Violence, Poverty With Help Of Muay Thai

Despite challenges at home, William Varner finished at the top of his academy at Fremont High in Oakland with the help of martial arts.



Students Rising Above Sometimes Forced To Overcome PTSD

Living around violence in the inner city is making children sick. Kids living in high crime areas have a higher rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than soldiers because they are living in “virtual combat zones”, according to Dr. Howard Spivak of the Centers for Disease Control.


Meuy Phan is graduating from Richmond High School with near-perfect grades. But her biggest accomplishment may be at home where she has grown up with the responsibilities of an adult.

Students Rising Above: Richmond High Student Helps Deaf Parents

Meuy Phan is graduating from Richmond High School with near-perfect grades. But her biggest accomplishment may be at home where she has grown up with the responsibilities of an adult.


Students Rising Above

Students Rising Above Gets Help With Health Before Fulfilling Promise In The Classroom

Now she is the Student Programs Coordinator for the SRA. The program helped her graduate from St. Mary’s College in the East Bay and Contreras knows firsthand that it took far more than just academic support and scholarships.


Alejandro Archiga, a student rising above.

Oakland Student Rising Above Poverty, Gets College Scholarship Thanks To ‘Better Chance’

When Alejandro Arechiga earned a scholarship to the prestigious College Prep High School in Oakland, it was like winning the lottery. He shares a two-bedroom apartment with five people and his single mom works very long hours as a house cleaner, often unable to afford food, tutoring, and school supplies, but now he is rising above.

“She comes home tired and it’s like, it’s been so many years of the same thing going on, just work and work and work,” Alejandro recalls. “It just definitely makes me want to strive to be better so I can help her out.”


Brenda Vasquez, Students Rising Above (CBS)

Berkeley Teen Manages Ailing Mother, Household, In Addition To Being Standout Student

Most parents know how hard it is to get a fourth-grader to clean their room. But what if they had to clean the whole house, cook, and take care of an invalid parent? That is what happened to Brenda Vasquez, a Student Rising Above who is a senior now at Berkeley High.


Walid Zafar speaks at the Students Rising Above luncheon. (CBS)

Former Student Describes Success Journey With SRA 10 Years Later

When we first met Walid Zafar ten years ago, he was a senior at Encinal High School in Alameda. He was a conscientious honor student on his way to the University of Puget Sound in Washington state.


Donza Pitre, Students Rising Above

Oakland Teen Overcomes Post-Traumatic Stress, Heads To College

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 30% of inner-city children suffer PTSD. Donza Pitre may be one of the few who was actually treated for it, after she was diagnosed at about 13 years of age.


Damont Hardnett

Santa Clara Teen Goes From Troubled Household Member To Student Leader

Damont Hardnett wears a pressed white shirt, a bow tie and a heartbreaking smile when he reaches his hand out to meet you. He is a mother’s dream – especially an African American single mom who has struggled to raise him right.