by Jennifer Mistrot and Christin Ayers
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Sweet smiles and happy families are what the camera captures when a Students Rising Above scholar fulfills their college dream. The cap and gown and the pomp and circumstance are all part of the experience. But what most do not see are the shoulders SRA scholars are standing on, those of the donors who have kept the non-profit running.
Recently donors, scholars and SRA staff gathered at Salesforce Tower in San Francisco for SRA’s inaugural Scholar Society event. It was a chance for a select group of legacy donors to meet the students they have helped get into college.
Many of those students never thought they would be able to achieve their goal of higher education. Pedro Lopez is one of those students.
“College wasn’t necessarily a word in my vocabulary,” explained Lopez. “Because there was a lack of money.”
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But with the help of SRA and its donors, Lopez is going to be a freshman at UC Merced in the fall, with hopes for a future in high tech.
“I probably want to get into cyber security,” said Lopez. “Or [become] a digital architect.”
Jessica Castro, once an SRA Scholar, is now paying it forward. Castro’s employed with the non-profit now as its Salesforce Administrator and Data specialist and the first generation college student says she would not be where she is now without SRA’s committed donors.
“Very rarely do you get to meet the donors who make things happen,” said Castro. “So being here to meet and mingle with a lot of the people who truly, truly support college access is really, really empowering.”
But it’s not just the scholars who were honored to be at the event. Longtime donors like Julia Alexander from the East Bay Insurance Agents Charitable Fund say it’s the students who keep them inspired.
“It just gives you goosebumps to hear the students stories,” said Alexander. “And their struggles and yet how they still can stay connected and focused on what their goal is and being able to fulfill their dream of going to college when they thought that was something they might not be able to do.”
Salesforce donated the space for the event.