KPIX 5 Students Rising Above

by Christin Ayers and Jennifer Mistrot

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — During her childhood Jocelyn Gama watched her older brother make some poor life decisions. As a result, Gama has been determined to make her own life’s path a positive one. In other words, she is a winner, whether she is hitting the basketball court or hitting her homework assignments.

Her basketball coach and longtime mentor Orlando Gray says when Gama is at school, she is in her element. “She’s a natural-born leader,” explained Gray.

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Not only has Gama become a leader for others, she also has also developed  a clear vision for herself, recognizing early on that a good education would be the key to where she wanted to go. Along the way the high school senior also decided she wanted to help both her family and greater community achieve more.

Jocelyn Gama (CBS)

So Oakland High School became Gama’s second home, with her education front and center. The campus has become her haven, as well as a sort of touchstone that has helped shape her into the first person in her family to be college bound.

“I want to become a role model for my baby brother and baby sister,” she said.

But beloved classes like creative writing, and close high school friends, teachers and coaches that have become like family, cannot completely erase the past. Gama watched as older brother became caught up in a life of crime, and the struggle through the prison system. She knew she wanted something different for herself and her family.

A bit of research, and some daydreaming, opened up another new world for Gama and a new role model. She now hopes to go to law school, and become a politician like California Sen. Kamala Harris.

“I want to be the voice for people who can’t speak for themselves and I read Kamala’s bio and it said the same thing, “explained Gama.

It is a dream Gama says she never would have had without the scholarships, mentoring and help with the college application process from Students Rising Above.

“They’ve done a lot for me. My other parents. My other family. My brothers and sisters and cousins and everything,” said Gama of SRA. “I don’t know where I’d be without them.”

These days Gama is on the cusp of college acceptance, and at her part-time job at Office Depot she delights in telling her customers about her college plans.