Students Rising AboveBy Michelle Griego

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — For some Students Rising Above scholars, going away to school is a dream-come-true. But for Versia Gipson, home is where she wants to be, with her mom who also happens to be her best friend. The University of San Francisco sophomore and her mom Alice Gipson are the best of friends.

“I went to college in San Francisco because I was scared in a way, because I have never been away from my mom,” explained Versia of her Bay Area based college choice.

The two are each other’s cheerleader.

“I’m very proud of her,” said Alice Gipson of her daughter. “When she sets her mind to doing something she always succeeded in doing it.”

That determined spirit is a quality mother and daughter share, and one that has helped see them through some very tough times.
When Versia was just a child, Alice lost her job. The family then lost their home, and with nowhere to go they found themselves living in motels.

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“The feeling of staying in a motel, it doesn’t feel good,” said Versia. ” It feels, I don’t know, weird. And then, like, you hear your friends at school talking about, ‘Oh, like, do you want to come to my house? Maybe I can come to yours?’ And then it’s, like, what house now?”

Middle school would be tough. But Versia faced new challenges when she started at Vallejo High School.

“When I started at Vallejo High, all my friends went to [another area High School] Bethel,” recalled Versia. “So I started at Vallejo High not knowing anyone at all.”

Versia turned that painful separation from her friends into a positive as she shifted her focus from socializing to school work. Getting to college became her top priority.

“It, like, pushed me!” recalled Versia. “And I had like teachers helping me, helping me push further to go to college.”

Versia did find the time to pursue fun activities, too. She excelled as the Flyer for Vallejo’s cheerleading squad before graduating from high school.

And as she watched her daughter’s accomplishments unfold, Alice pushed towards her own success. She secured a new job and family home.

Now Versia is at college, close by in San Francisco, making silly videos to pass the time during the pandemic, while she studies forensic psychology.

Alice is so proud of her daughter.

“It’s just a good feeling, a great feeling you know,” said Alice. “A mother is very happy to know that her daughter is in college … because I personally didn’t make it to college. She is very intelligent and I am a proud mother.