I was a Student Rising Above scholarship recipient from 2000-2004. My grandparents were Vietnamese refugees who escaped their war-torn homeland on April 29, 1975, the day of the Fall of Saigon. I grew up in a single-parent home and spent the early part of my childhood in a battered women's shelter. The Student Rising Above foundation gave me the courage to tell my story of resiliency and survival. As a result of the mentorship, encouragement and financial support, I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2004 with a BS in bioengineering. I am now finishing up my doctorate in public health and biostatistics at Columbia University where I am giving back to others that have given so much to me. I founded the Biostatistics Enrichment Summer Training (BEST) Diversity Program which recruits under-represented minority and first-generation college students to pursue careers in public health. We received half a million dollars in support from the federal government to continue our program for the next five summers. All of this would not have been possible had Student Rising Above not taken an investment in me and supported me with my endeavors.
Students Rising Above is hands down the best non profit serving youth in the Bay Area. this organization made it possible for me to live my dream of going to college without having to stress about the financial woes of paying for college. The organization was very caring, loving and supportive throughout my entire 6 years of college and always made me feel like they were not only my supporters but like they were my second family. A family that I can always count on for advice, assistance in the after college part of life as well as having a network of successful people who care. Students Rising above is an amazing organization and deserves the utmost recognition when it comes to honoring non profits. I love them and everything that they stand for and always will.
As someone who grew up in poverty at a very young, I knew all to well what it is like to not have and wish for something more. I never imagined going to college until certain circumstances in my life occurred. My life hasn't always been the easiest and I have faced very tough and challenging circumstances, some that would make a lot of people want to give up and not continue pressing on. When I finally did go off to college with Students Rising Above in my corner I never could have imagined how much an organization could have cared about the once homeless young woman, now going off to college. I faced a lot of adversity during my college years and throughout my life, but I am forever grateful and indebted to SRA and all of the advisors, menotors, board members, and volunteers who have always kept a hand in my life and the other hand on my heart. This organization has helped me more than I could have ever imagined and no thanks in the world is enough to show my appreciation to it. To all of the advisors, board members, mentors, and volunteers, I just would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, and let you know that you have forever changed my life and you do make a difference.
With all my love,
I cannot express my gratitude enough for all that this organization has done for me in my life. They provided me with the guidance, the support, and the hope to make it to and through college. This organization truly cares about its students. It holds a strong compassion for working closely on an individual basis to ensure that each and every student has all their basic needs met, and helps them find their inner strengths to succeed and transition through every phase into adulthood, regardless of the struggles and challenges they may face, either at home, or in their present moment.
Help support SRA, they are making a difference in our communities, and in the lives of many young adults who have come face to face with adversity. They are changing lives, and creating leaders of tomorrow.
My name is Christopher Pulu. I was born in Oakland, CA and come from a family of seven. I graduated from Oakland High School in June of 2009. I am currently a freshman at the University of La Verne and I am majoring in Business Administration with a minor in Music. How did I get there? I didn't know anything about SRA but I was able to take this journey with the help of SRA by my side. It started my junior year where I was presented with a golden opportunity. I was doing what every high school student tries to achieve and that was to get good grades. I didn’t think much of it at first because I thought that this was what we were supposed to do. I never thought about college really. My main goal was to get a job and help my family live a stable life. A stable life seemed impossible because of all the adversity that just hit my family and I constantly. It was a never-ending roller coaster. My eldest sister got into a grave-car accident that caused her to become completely paralyzed from the head down. She was unable to walk, talk, or eat like a normal person. She passed away in 2003. Soon after, my father was diagnosed with type-two diabetes and passed away due to a heart attack in 2007. Being the second oldest, I not only had to acquire the responsibilities of being the eldest, but the role of being man of the house. There was no time for dreaming about college because the welfare of my family became my first priority. Unlike many other teens that were my age, I had to be an adult at a young age. I had to deal with bills, food, figuring out who will pick up my siblings, worrying about where they were at all times, etc. I did all of this on top of my studies. After my father passed away, my teachers requested that I see the school’s life coach advisor, Mrs. Clark, who specialized in the bereavement process. She was the extra support students have during the mourning process to assist them to stay on top of schoolwork. She also provided other resources to the family like programs for reducing bill payments. This helped lift the burden off my shoulder and eased the pain I was experiencing. I visited her once a week and got straight A’s that whole school year. Mrs. Clark looked for students who fit the SRA requirements and luckily for me I was the only one who qualified. So I decided to apply. I didn’t know what I was applying to exactly. According to my mom, everything you sign is a scam. So I was a bit skeptical. Now that I am in college, SRA is the best thing that has ever happened in my life. The reason why my story is relevant is because they took the time to listen when no one else would. There were days I wanted to break down and cry, but I had to compose myself to show my family that I was staying strong for them. I had to build up this wall to hide how I was actually feeling inside. No one understood me. I developed the thought that someone else out there was struggling far worse than I was. Although that may have been true, SRA helped me realize that everyone has their own stories that impacts their lives at the point in there time and this was my story. Students Rising Above is my second family. Being a first generation college student in my family, I would be clueless to finding out the ropes on how to complete a college career successfully. SRA has provided me with the resources necessary to get a head start in the right direction. They provided funding for books, college apps, registration fee, housing fee, laptop, dorm supplies, and so much more. Besides the financial aspect that any scholarship provides, they also provide mentors and advisors. I have the best advisor ever and her name is Marisol Curiel. Marisol is like my older sister. She has put up with all the bad luck I have with trying to start with college. If there is one major thing that SRA has provided me with, that is that they will stay by your side no matter what obstacles may come your way. Their goal is that you make and complete a college education. Life as a freshman is awesome. I am currently the Senator at Large for my university. I am in the process of being initiated into a Music Honors fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon. I am very active in college and that is because I have the time to do things I actually enjoy. Had I been stuck at home, I would not be able to experience this one in a lifetime opportunity. My journey with SRA does not end once I graduate. I hope to become rich and donate money to fund more scholars as well as invest my time in mentoring the students. Students Rising Above has molded me into the best that I could be and because of that; I want to continue the cycle. I can go on and on about how wonderful SRA is but I have to go back to my studies. So if this wasn’t enough to convince you on how wonderful the Students Rising Above program is, than feel free to email me with your questions at Christopher.email@example.com. I LOVE SRA!
I know a great number of wonderful organizations, but Students Rising Above (SRA) has made the biggest impact on my life. SRA provides scholarships and support to low income students in the Bay Area. Not only does their program help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds pay for college, but SRA covers other costs associated with college that would normally be covered by parents, such as flights to and from school, books, and medical costs. The program provides workshops on interview skills, cover letter writing, and even proper dinning etiquette. In addition, SRA has a mentor program in which each student is assigned a mentor who supports that student until they graduate (however long it takes). My mentor, Lisa, has been a constant support person through the ups and downs of college. Last September, I was chosen as one of the Top-Ten College Women by Glamour Magazine and in May I became one of the fewer than five percent of former foster youth to go on to graduate college. I simply would have made it this far without SRA and my SRA mentor Lisa. Please support SRA in any way you can. This organization truly makes a difference in the lives of the students serves.