2012-10-19 08:00:00

For Those in Poverty, City College a ‘Lifeline’

Pictured Above (L to R): Philip Standing Bear, Tony Robles and Ingrid DeLeon

EDITOR'S NOTE: The folowing profiles were written as part of a series highlighting the importance of CCSF to communities across the city. The series is part of a fellowship organized by New America Media and sponsored by the San Francisco Foundation.

A Future for My Daughter
Phillip Standing Bear

For many years I was under the assumption that college was out of reach for me. Once I got custody of my daughter, though, I had to figure something out.

I can’t provide a good home for Cheyanne on social security alone. But as a single father, figuring out how I could get an education was hard. Many people told me to take online courses … if I had a computer at the time I would’ve. Still, having attention deficit disorder means I have to constantly be reminded about small things, including homework. Online courses wouldn’t have worked. I had to find a way to get into a classroom or lose hope.

That’s when a friend recommended the Family Resource Center (FRC) at City College of San Francisco. FRC allowed a poor single father like me to go to school and receive access to on-site childcare as well as support. When I walked into FRC, I was instantly greeted by a familiar face; Libah Shephard, a fellow reporter with POOR Magazine, who walked me through the system and explained how I could register myself the following semester.

I don’t want Cheyanne to live the life that I did in foster care. That, for a lot of indigenous children in the system, is pure terror. To be taken away from the ones you love because your parents couldn’t pay rent, or couldn’t pay taxes or didn’t have enough food in the house to last a couple of days. Imagine… 

Philip Standing Bear is a reporter at POOR Magazine and a graduate of RYME (Revolutionary Youth Media Education).

The Only Education for Poor Immigrants
Ingrid DeLeon

My name is Ingrid. I am a mother of four children, and a student at City College of San Francisco. I recently found out [the school] may close their doors. I do not like that idea. This school benefits everyone. If we as immigrants can learn English, we will be able to better understand one another and have more access to employment.

This school is very important for poor immigrant women workers like myself. I am not only able to learn English, but am able to improve my dress-making skills so I can eventually start my own small business. Many of us poor immigrants did not have the time or money for an education in our country of origin. Please do not close these doors, I beg you as a woman who wants to forward her life and knows many who benefit from this school.

Ingrid Deleon is a reporter with Voces de in/migrants en resistencia at Prensa POBRE/POOR Magazine.

Creating Community
V. Park Castro

Those who know me describe me as bookish or nerdy. “Tenez que pensar,” my mom would say. “You have to think.” It was her way of recognizing that her children needed to think critically and develop intellect.

My mother raised me as a single parent. She left her homeland of El Salvador during the civil war there, ending her hope of going to college, and migrated to the United States, where she began from scratch. To learn English she attended City College of San Francisco’s Mission Campus, where she also enrolled in courses on Early Childhood Education. She did this while still providing housing, food, love and a stable home for my sister and I.

Education was at the heart of our dinner table, and City College of San Francisco was home base. It created community for my family, as it has for many others. I still walk the halls there with a sense of belonging to a community-based academic institution.

I’ve been attending CCSF since I was in high school, taking advantage of the courses that are available for public school students. When San Francisco State University became too expensive, I move back to City College to complete my general studies. Affordability has always been an issue for me, because living in poverty has always been a reality for me. CCSF is the only educational setting that I can afford. It is also the place where people who are struggling, people like my mother, are given the agency to educate themselves and achieve greatness.

Vinia Park Castro is a contributor to POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE.

Thank You for Being There
Tony Robles

Back in 1982 I was getting out of high school and wondering what direction I was going to take out there in what the adults around me referred to as the “real world.” I was living at home and I could tell that my father wouldn’t put up with too much lollygagging in the name of post-graduation relaxation.

I was a fairly decent communicator so I had this idea that I’d like to teach people to read and write, that I could perhaps be a volunteer in such a program. My father recoiled at the word volunteer and quickly volunteered a vigorous, heartfelt and well-intentioned kick in my ass. I forgot about volunteering and found myself back to square one.

Then I recalled a guy who came to career day at my high school. He worked as a radio DJ. He paced in front of the class walking with a bowlegged hobble that made him appear as if he’d ridden a horse cross country minus the saddle. He spoke with an affected southern drawl. He was a Filipino guy but it all made sense when we found out that he worked for a country station. He told us that he started off as the station janitor, working his way up into the coveted announcer position.

I’d left home and moved in with my grandma. She told me about City College. She supported my desire to try broadcasting and encouraged me to enroll. I learned that City College had a broadcasting department with a radio station. I visited the station, looking through the glass at the announcer spinning records. I was intimidated by all the electronic equipment, the blinking lights, tape machines, etc. I finally got into the radio station but not before taking classes in mass communication, broadcast writing and basic audio production. These classes have proved invaluable as I entered a career in media. 

I became a radio DJ, a television production assistant, a radio account executive and a copywriter. The skills I obtained at City College allowed me to work professionally in media without spending thousands of dollars at a broadcasting school. I now share those same skills with writers and journalists from poor communities and communities of color — the same communities I sprouted from, in a city whose college gave me the opportunity to partake in higher education. Thank you City College for being there.

Tony Robles, of African-Filipino descent, is co-editor of POOR Magazine and a board member with Manilatown Heritage Foundation.

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