Students Rising Above

RICHMOND (KPIX 5) — Many students are struggling with the stress that comes with online learning, but Miguel Angel Moya is using this time to reflect on how he can serve his community after graduation. Like most college students in California, Moya  is spending his freshman year leaning into his computer for hours online. The 18-year-old human biology major is fatigued.

“I would much prefer to be in a classroom, engaging with other students and stuff like that,” said Moya “Being able to see like human beings and not a screen. I mean, I don’t even know if you’re real or not. I’m  looking at a screen and talking to camera right now, so it’s kind of crazy.”

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It is crazy. Moya’s part of the high school graduating class of 2020. He completed his last semester at Richmond High School virtually, an experience he says he found isolating.

“To tell the truth, it’s been really difficult,” confessed Moya. “We are going to have generations of youth growing up accustomed to these things.”

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The pandemic has been difficult for many students, and Moya is concerned about the lasting effects. Growing up, Moya saw other young people use alcohol and substances like tobacco as stress relievers.

“You know, there is a certain rite of passage,” explained Moya. “You know, you walk into the liquor store and you are no longer buying chips and candy and sodas, right? You start, you know, buying things like swishers and bottles and stuff like that. It’s very endemic in communities of color and lower socio-economic communities. I think it is very, very … targeted.”

Moya said he found himself struggling to stay away from that space, and in the 8th grade he failed algebra. But by his senior year in high school he was taking AP Calculus, excelling in his other classes, and was selected valedictorian of his graduating class.

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It’s an academic turnaround Moya attributes in part to the lessons he learned playing on his school’s baseball team.

“What am I going to do?” Moya said he asked himself. “I am going to put in the work that I need to do. [Baseball] just gave me a certain structure, or a certain, like, routine. I’m going to go to school so I can go to practice so I can go home.”

That newfound structure would push Moya to USC, where he hopes his hard work – and hours of virtual studying – will pave the way for him to become a doctor.

His dream job would be to practice at Oakland’s Highland Hospital, serving a community he loves.

“I personally lost a lot of friends to the streets,” said Moya. “That really impacted me, and I want to be there in moments of need where people can have a chance to have a second chance at life.”


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