I grew up in a working class family in San Francisco where my family depended on the single income of my public school teacher father, who is originally from Nicaragua. 

At an early age, I was told by a teacher that I would not make it far in life. Struggling academically, I was placed in special education classes during elementary school where I began to believe that I was different and not as capable as other students. It went downhill from there. I felt like I was constantly being told how bad I was doing, and I believed these people. That is, until Juma came along.


As a teenager, I was expected to work and help my family out. My parents reminded me that they had started working at a young age and placed the same expectation on me. It was around this time that I learned about Juma’s employment program and decided to join.

As a Juma youth, I worked as a vendor at AT&T Park but also received academic support and financial literacy training. Juma helped build my confidence and work ethic while learning responsibility and time management skills. For students like me who had to work through school, we learned how to manage extra responsibilities. Juma taught me a newfound work ethic. Instead of hanging out with friends on the weekends, I worked vending at football games. Having a savings account and learning financial capability also taught me better spending habits. Juma was my first experience going to school and working at the same time. Juma prepared me for college.

I learned things at Juma that classes can’t teach you and that test scores don’t show — lessons that have helped me succeed over the past 10 years. Most importantly, I learned how to believe in myself, work hard, use my strengths, and make friends. Though I didn’t get the best education, I used my strengths that I learned outside of school to get me where I am today. In college, I had to work multiple jobs to pay my bills. I had to be strategic to find the right balance between going to school and taking care of other responsibilities. Being strategic is probably my biggest strength, but it’s not taught in the classroom, it’s taught in the real world. This is what I gained through my experience with Juma.

Like many of my Juma peers, I defied the statistics, proved my elementary school teacher wrong, and broke the cycle of poverty. I pushed beyond the limited perceptions that others had of me, built a successful career as a privacy and public policy lawyer in Silicon Valley and I credit much of what I have today to my beginnings with Juma.


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