Alumni Spotlight: Racquel Kraft
Racquel Kraft (SFSU c/o 2013) was part of the very first full Metro cohort, starting as a first year student in Fall 2009. Now, after a couple of years exploring various career paths, she has her sights set on attending graduate school in a field where she can make an impact on community wellness and address structural injustices in San Francisco communities and beyond. Racquel says it was during her time in Metro, and then later in her Criminal Justice major courses, that she built a foundation for understanding challenges in her community and her own family’s experiences.
Since graduating, Racquel has held a range of positions related to her studies, including working as a public safety dispatcher with the California Highway Patrol where she fielded emergency calls and, later, as a patient advocate assisting community members at St. Luke’s Hospital in navigating their health coverage and care. It was the position at St. Luke’s, which also involved in-depth learning about health policy such as the newly unveiled Affordable Care Act, which sparked Racquel’s interest in returning to school. She is currently looking into applying to Master of Public Health programs.
Alumni Spotlight: Yeira De Ita
Yeira De Ita finished City College’s Metro Transfer Academy in 2015, and then went on to transfer to SFSU where she’s majoring in Criminal Justice. She will be graduating from SF State this May, completing her bachelor’s in only five years.
Yeira credits Metro for her speedy journey to transfer and graduation, despite having started in developmental English and math. Yeira attributes part of her success to the support she received through the Metro writing tutor, as well as the skills she gained in the classroom. She also thinks the course pathway helped streamline her transfer process: “I took the right classes, thanks to Metro.” Yeira wants to go on to work with young people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system, because as she puts it, “they often don’t get a second chance.”
Alumni Spotlight: Alonzo Anderson
Alonzo joined the Metro program at City College in 2009. He had been working as a butcher, and with his three children being older, knew that he wanted to go back to school. He reflects on his time in Metro as “constant support: the tutors, the accessible counselors, and instructors were all really there for me.”
Alonzo began to be inspired by the public health focus of some of his Metro classes at CCSF, but wasn’t sure what that could mean in terms of a career. Academic counseling helped him “make my dreams into plans.”
At first, those dreams didn’t include the idea of transferring to a university. But things changed as Alonzo became even more committed to contributing back to his community of Bayview Hunters Point.
One major issue was a need for access to higher education for people who were or had been incarcerated. At the time, CCSF’s 5 Keys Program provided courses for this population but those classes, held mostly in the SF County Jail, only led to high school equivalency certificates. Knowing that a high school diploma often isn’t enough for people to access gainful employment after incarceration, Alonzo got involved with the program and began advocating that they expand the courses to include college-level credits and professional certificates. 5 Keys did just that. Now, a few years later, the program offers a range of courses and also, in partnership with the City, several community health worker certificates with focuses including prison health and child development.
The real-world advocacy and program planning experience gained through his work with 5 Keys propelled Alonzo towards a major in Health Education at SF State. This May, just two years later, he’ll be graduating with his BA, while also working as a volunteer coordinator for Rebuilding Together San Francisco, a program that rehabilitates homes and public schools. Being so close to graduation, Alonzo says, is “overwhelming and exciting at the same time, but it’s definitely not the end for me.” He is now exploring doing graduate work in public policy.
Alumni Spotlight: Vanessa Funes
The Metro Student Resource Center is nearly always abuzz with study groups and tutoring. Director of tutoring Vanessa Funes works in the middle of it all, exuding a feeling of calm and focus. Vanessa was part of Metro’s second cohort at SF State, starting in 2010 and completing the program in 2012. She says Metro was a tremendous academic and emotional support system, especially when she hit some challenging times around her sophomore year, and was considering leaving the University. After reaching out to peers and instructors in Metro who she’d gotten to know over those two years, instead Vanessa decided to continue in school. She graduated with a bachelor’s in Health Education just two years later, in 2014. Vanessa says she still remembers the feeling on graduation day: “I felt really proud because I am first generation and the first in my family to finish college. It was more so about my family — my mom was super proud. The reason they even came here to the U.S. was so that my generation could have better opportunities. To them my graduating was their purpose. It was also really empowering for me. And, I still feel like I’m not done. If I can do that, I can do more – I can get my master’s, and I could get a PhD if I want to.”
Now, Vanessa is giving current Metro students support similar to what she received, first as a lower division student and then as a student assistant for the program. “I get it,” she says. “… Them not being able to take certain classes because they absolutely have to work. I can totally relate. As a staff member, it gives me that much more patience to go the extra mile.”
Despite the challenges she watches students going through, Vanessa sees – and knows firsthand — the impact the learning community experience can have. “It’s exciting – any time people ask me what my job is, I feel super proud to tell them about Metro.”