Success Stories


  • Rita Villanueva

    UC Berkeley, Class of 2019
    Los Altos High School 2015

    "It was not the color of my skin that made me feel different from my classmates; it was the world I came from. They came from a world of wholesome meals and leafy greens; I came from a world of top ramen and easy mac. They came from a world where everyone had their own bed; I came from a world where six people squeezed into just one."

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  • Emmonie Gulley

    Chico State, Class of 2018
    Majoring in Social Work with a minor in Child Development
    East Palo Alto Academy 2013

    "I was surrounded by criminals, but they all taught me things, they all showed me things that a teacher could never teach me. Drug dealers taught me how to read people. I developed a capability to empathize with people. I never saw myself going to college, I rarely went to school."

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  • Ashley Thomas

    Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2016
    Double major in Criminology and Psychology
    Wakefield High School 2010

    "I am motivated by being the first not to get pregnant at a young age, the first to graduate from high school with an advanced diploma, the first to go to college and get a degree and the first to make a change in the Thomas family." With extra financial support from POE, Ashley made the Dean's List her senior year and is following her dream of becoming a forensic psychologist.

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  • Dominic

    San Francisco State, Class of 2007
    Software Engineer at OpenDNS (now part of Cisco)
    Carlmont High School 1999

    "We not only received scholarships to further our education, but we also gained an extended family.” To escape the violent civil war in Sierra Leone, Dominic’s mother sent him and his brother to live in East Palo Alto when he was 11 years old. “When my brother and I immigrated to the States, we left behind our mother, grandmother, family, and friends."

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  • Martin Esquivias

    UC Santa Cruz, Class of 2016
    Audit Associate at KPMG
    Woodside High School 2012

    "The financial help from POE is amazing, but the greatest thing about POE is their mentoring. My parents do not have an understanding of what I am going through right now, so it was such a relief to be able to talk to someone that has experience in what I am going through."

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  • Lia Salaverry

    UC Santa Cruz, Class of 2015
    Special Projects Consultant for Mission Neighborhoods Center, on the boards of Vision SF and SF Young Democrats
    Palo Alto High School 2010

    "Poverty can cripple, creating unbelievable hurdles for millions of people trying to survive and make ends meet. My personal challenges growing up have compelled me to excel in college, though I have been incredibly fortunate to receive substantial help in the process. I have learned the significant difference that a strong education can make to empower people and create upward social and economic mobility."

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  • Vanessa Torres

    UCLA, Class of 2013
    Currently in graduate school for Nursing at UCLA
    Woodside High School 2009

    "There are two types of people in this world: those who throw in the towel and those who hang on and rise above.”

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  • Rossmeri Ramirez

    Sacramento State, Class of 2018
    Majoring in Organizational Communications and Sociology
    Sequoia High School 2013

    "I will be the first in my family to pursue higher education at a 4-year university and I know my resilient, outspoken, leadership nature will only aid me in this unfamiliar path full of future ambitions and accomplishments."

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  • Cruz Zavala-Garcia

    San Francisco State, Class of 2013
    Program Manager at Stanford
    University of San Francisco Law School, Class of 2019
    Sequoia High School 2009

    "I was able to truly focus on my studies without distractions because POE helped me financially. As a result, my family and I no longer had the burden of financing my college education. Beyond its financial support, POE provided me essential counseling services. As a freshman, college can be so confusing and even overwhelming at times. I loved that I met with my mentor quarterly. "

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  • Paola Tovar

    UC Merced, Class of 2013
    Program Coordinator at Electronic Arts
    Menlo-Atherton High School 2009

    "Being a POE recipient didn't only mean that college would be a bit more affordable, it also meant that the sponsors truly believed in my success. I owed POE the same thing I owed my family - a college degree."

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