Council of Youth Research students pose for pictures after their presentation at DML 2012
This week, Council members from Roosevelt High School reflect on their experience in San Francisco.
Josey Garcia, 12th grade
When Mr. Lopez, the Roosevelt High School Representative for CYR, told us we were going to San Francisco to present, wow! I was excited! How often do inner city youth get a chance to speak out for their community at a conference? First arriving to San Francisco on a Wednesday night, we went straight to bed. From morning to evening, we spent all of Thursday polishing up our PowerPoint presentation. It was exhausting! But we got it down. Once we were satisfied with our finished product, we did run-throughs with our teacher and Nicole. Once they were satisfied, we went to bed. It was hard for me to fall asleep because I was so nervous. Friday finally came, and we were ready! All of the schools were confident and supportive of each other. The inspirational talk from all of the teachers before presenting motivated me even more. We went in there and gave it our all. I felt a part of every presentation because these are issues not only occurring in their schools but in mine and in many other schools around the country, as well. I and every other student went into the room with confidence and left with having an impact on everyone in that room.
I am thankful that this program not only gave me the opportunity to speak about the issues prevalent in my school and community but also gave me the opportunity to visit colleges that I’ve never visited before – San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley and Stanford University. I fell in love with UC Berkeley! I would definitely consider going there. Overall, the experience was great, and I’m glad that I participated in the Digital Media Conference and visited San Francisco.
Stephanie Sanchez, 11th grade
Wednesday February 29, 2012. The CYR groups from the five separate high schools unite as we board the huge bus that will take us to San Francisco for our presentation at the Digital Media and Learning Conference. And there we are, sitting on a crowded bus full of strangers and friends, on our way to San Francisco. The drive is long – eight hours. We work on our presentations for a while; along the way, I fall asleep. I awaken to the growing murmurs of those around me. I’m too tired to remember how nervous I am. I forget all about the presentation, mesmerized by the beauty of San Francisco. The lights. We’re crossing the famous Golden Gate Bridge, and everyone is impressed. Our hotel is nearby, so I stay awake. It’s overwhelming, as I simply can’t believe I’ve made it all this way – that I’ve survived an eight hour bus ride, that I’m in San Francisco! We make it to our hotel. All I can feel is the coldness of the air and the heaviness of sleep. I’m exhausted. I walk up to my room on the third floor, get ready to sleep, and sink into bed.
Thursday March 1, 2012. I wake up to the rhythmic beeping of my phone’s alarm, disoriented. I don’t know where I am. Only one thought rushes into my head: “Where am I, and what am I doing here?” Surveying my surroundings, I slowly begin to realize where I am – I’m in a hotel in San Francisco! My heart leaps for joy at the realization that the previous day was not a dream. We really are here, and soon, we will present. My group and I spend the day working on our PowerPoint presentation, practicing and revising it in the evening. Near midnight, we finalize it and try to fall asleep, anxious about our presentation only a few hours away.
Friday March 2, 2012. The day has finally come. The numerous hours spent working hard to create our PowerPoint and to outline our presentation has finally paid off. We all dress up, ready to present. The teachers give us a pep talk that boosts my confidence and lifts my spirits. We enter the conference room. Sitting amongst the audience, my group and I wait for our turn. We are second to last. It is time. My heart begins to pound, my knees tremble; it is my first time presenting before an audience of adults. I take a deep breath and walk to the front of the room. We present. Applauded by the audience, we exit the room and walk into the hallway, where we’re congratulated, patted on the back, high-fived by the other students. I feel the love and support in the room. I feel at ease, but shocked that I had the courage to present. We take our seats, and the last group presents. Everyone does amazing. To celebrate our job well done, we visit San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley – two great schools with stunning campuses!
Saturday March 3, 2012. On the last day, I awake with mixed feelings: I’m sad that we’re leaving the Bay Area, but thrilled to visit Stanford, my dream school, and to go back home to my family and friends. Heading to L.A., sitting on a bus with my new family, I reflect on the trip and on how much I’ve grown through CYR. I’ve evolved – morphed from a timid girl frightened to present even in front of my own friends to a confident, powerful young lady able to present in front of a huge crowd of strangers. I know now that I am capable. I have the potential to make a change in the community. This experience is a step closer to my ultimate goal – to change the world. It has opened my eyes to the many issues prevailing in my community and has encouraged me to take action and demand change. Furthermore, having the rare opportunity as an inner city kid to visit three college campuses in San Francisco has inspired me to consider these colleges as well as many others far away from home. After high school, I will pursue a higher education and take with me this experience to better the world.
Irma Galicia, 12th grade
The trip to San Francisco was amazing. I had never been there so I was amazed. I got to meet a lot of new and interesting people. But most of all I got to meet new and amazing intellectual students who undergo the same issues that we Roosevelt students endure on a daily basis. It was empowering to know that we as students are not alone in this fight toward the betterment of our schools. Thus we are students from all over California, yet we are a united front and we are unified to attain not only self-improvement within our selves but also our community and especially our schools. I learned that we as students are not alone in our fight – we have numerous adults who support us and will help us strive towards success.
The presentation was nerve wracking – I was so embarrassed and nervous. The thing that really helped was that the adults were so understanding and supportive of our cause and us. Therefore it made it easier for us to speak and express our opinion even stronger. I believe I did okay – I was extremely nervous, and to my dismay I began to shake. I know that I could have done better, but I was content with my performance.
Mark Olvera, 11th grade
My time with the Council Of Youth Research in San Francisco was a much-appreciated experience. During the long ride I couldn’t believe this was possible because our funds were not guaranteed & at one point I wouldn’t have thought this could happen. The first days we spent in SF were full of hard work for every school because we were all preparing for our presentations. We communicated well by giving each other feedback and advice. I also like that we became close and comfortable with each other toward the end of our trip.
Before our presentations I felt nervous because I needed to know my lines. Once we finished presenting I loved the feedback that all the adults gave us because it was encouraging. While being asked a few questions after our presentation, everyone was emotional as we were all grouped. The adults gave us a lot of attention and it motivated me even more to do good at home. This trip was life changing for me by showing me how much students are capable of and what I am capable of.
Cinthia Gonzalez, 12th grade
I never thought I would have fun doing something that I love, which is to teach people about the issues we face in our schools. This opportunity came before me when I joined the Council of Youth Research. I learned how to be a researcher and this experience has helped me become a better person and to understand the complexities of the issues we face. So when we took the trip to San Francisco and presented to the Digital Media and Learning Conference about the issues we face with technology in our schools, it was a new experience for me.
Going San Francisco was really a great experience. I not only had the opportunity to visit college campuses, but I made the decision that San Francisco State University would be the school that I would attend after high school. Although I applied to other schools and still have a decision to make, I know that San Francisco is the city I want to live in. This trip really encouraged me to make a decision to be on my own.
But what made this whole trip worth it was the fact that we were the only youth presenting in the conference. To me that was amazing because we were able to represent the youth from our schools and give them a voice through our presentation. As a Roosevelt student I was proud of my peers for all the work we did to present our research about discipline policies and how they can discourage students from attending college. I learned that youth face problems with discipline policies that stop the growth of students. With all this knowledge that I gained from the trip it made me realize that we have to continue to do research, organize and create a better education for students. It made me realize that we do need technology in our schools because that can help us tell our stories and become tech savvy. I left San Francisco with fresh new eyes and now realize that this is what we must overcome to have a brighter tomorrow.