First-generation. Low-income. Student of color. I fit the common profile of an uncommon background of many Berkeley students. I grew up in a single-parent household with a mom that knew very little English. I knew nothing about college applications or financial aid. Statistically speaking, the odds should have been against my favor.
Thinking back to high school, I recall moments when I would hear friends and parents “look down” at my school. Why? My high school had often been regarded as “unsafe” due to the historic number of fights and police presence. My high school had often been regarded as a place you would not be able to succeed because we had historically ranked near the bottom in the school district. I remember how from middle school to high school, many of my peers transferred because their parents wanted to avoid sending them to my high school. I remember how after a district-wide awards ceremony hosted at my high school, my mom had told me how another parent had grudgingly complained how she felt so “unlucky” that her child had to attend my school.