by Christin Ayers and Jennifer MistrotBy Christin Ayers

(KPIX 5) — David Padilla will never forget the day he and his family were robbed right in their own living room.

“It was my first day of high school. And we were just in the living room when two men came in at gunpoint,” recalled Padilla. “It was a very traumatizing experience at the time.”

LEARN MORE: Students Rising Above

The East Bay native says he was changed forever by the experience but not in the way you might expect. His concern about violence as a public health issue in his community, especially among young people, gave Padilla a clear vision for his future.

“It really inspired me to do change mostly because I realized that not only was this is relation to crime itself, and violence and gun violence but … Many of the issues that we face growing up are being faced by other people at the same time. And it is really about sharing those experiences and learning from each other,” explained Padilla.

So Padilla headed to City Hall, literally. He now has a fellowship at the Richmond City Manager’s office. Padilla says he’s policy maker with a holistic approach. And that it includes looking at everything that may affect the community, factors like education, the environment, and the economy. Padilla says helping his community is a top priority.

“Growing up here, seeing issues first hand, and now being able to have a direct role in helping those issues,’ said Padilla. ” Makes me really makes me happy.”

But equally important is his own family. Padilla says the robbery, as awful as it was brought his mother, father and two sisters, closer together.

“It made me realize how important the health of my family was,” said Padilla.

He’s completing his senior year at the University of California, Berkeley, and is grateful to Students Rising Above for its role in his success

“Students Rising Above had an incredible impact on my ability to go to Berkeley, “explained Padilla. “But also to continue to succeed.”

Padilla says he is also grateful to his other family, the Community of Richmond for its embrace of his heartache and his dedication.

“It continues to motivate me as well,” said Padilla. “It continues to drive me. And as tired as I may be coming home from school and work sometimes it is something that I always look forward to the next day.”

David Padilla is the featured Scholar for SRA’s Annual Season of Giving Campaign. To make a donation, go to SRA’s website.


Christin Ayers