Tag Archives: career

Students own their truth about overcoming barriers at conference

By Judy Ly

Rainier Editor-in-Chief

Imagine being afraid to come to school every day because a male student is stalking and harassing you on a daily basis. Imagine being too scared to reach out for help from your mom because she has been diagnosed with stage four cancer and your father is absent.

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One of the student speakers presents in the workshop Respect Lab: Tell Your Truth! at UCSC’s Communities of Color Career Conference. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

This was the reality for a student speaker, who asked to be referred to as Bella, in the workshop Respect Lab: Tell Your Truth! at University of California, Santa Cruz’s Communities of Color Career Conference on Feb. 9. She shared a story of her own interaction with the school administration in her freshman year at Summit Preparatory Charter High School in Redwood City, when her stalker was also assaulting her.

When Bella reached out to her mentor about her stalker, her mentor responded by saying the male student simply had a crush on her. The mentor system is where every student at a Summit school is assigned, in their freshman year, a mentor group and a mentor. Summit faculty, usually teachers, aim to act as a guidance and emotional support system for mentees.

Out of fear of causing her mom stress and negatively affecting her mom’s health, Bella felt like she couldn’t reach out to her mom. To avoid her reality of having a stalker, she became dependent on alcohol.

Eventually when her mom was in remission, they both had a meeting with the school’s principal in an attempt to resolve the conflict. The following day, Bella was placed into a room with her stalker and one other teacher, where the teacher then asked, “What can you both do to fix this situation?”  

“I don’t know. What can I do? What can I do to make him leave me alone? I will do it, just tell me,” Bella remembered saying. The stalker denied everything, claiming that he didn’t know who she was and that he never done anything to her.

Bella continued to explain how the stalker would physically assault her and leave bruises all over her body: “He would hit me; he would punch me; he would slap me. At one point, I had a bruise on my leg the size of a baseball, and he denied everything.”

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Student speaker Bella talks about how much she has grown and changed over her high school career. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

Alongside her mom, Bella filed a lawsuit against the principal because no proper actions were being taken about her situation, and she then transferred to Summit Everest. On her new campus, she noted that she stopped drinking because she felt like there was no reason to do so anymore.

She concluded by claiming that the school administration had failed to effectively help female victims: “Through this entire thing, I learned that school administration is not necessarily the way it should be. They victimize a lot more female students than they do male. Male students, who are perpetrators, tend to not be punished for what they did.”

She added that this kind of behavior has been seen in other cases: “We saw this in the Brock Turner case; we’ve seen this consistently with so many other cases, and nothing really happens to them. So the next thing we need to do is we need to figure out how we can help the victims and stop blaming them for what happens.”

The Brock Turner case got so much negative attention that the judge, who sentenced Turner to jail for six months after sexually assaulting an unconscious woman near a dumpster, got recalled.

While it is difficult to find statistics for gender bias and victimization within school administration, gender bias and victim blaming are very prevalent in sexual violence cases. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports gender bias can unfairly and negatively affect victims in court such as “holding battered mothers to higher standards of parenting and behavior than fathers” and “stereotyping women as hysterical and unreasonable.” They also state, “Research tells us that the majority of domestic violence victims are female, therefore, gender is a pertinent issue when talking about how systems handle domestic violence cases.”

In a report done by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, they stated, “Across 50 states, estimates of lifetime rape victimization of women ranged from 12.2% to 26.3%.”

The workshop was the first time Bella was telling her story out loud to an audience. By doing so, she was practicing one of the Respect Basics: Telling Your Truth. The terminology of Respect Basics was coined by the Respect Institute, a national nonprofit that focuses on creating resources for youth to evolve their self-respect and have respect be the status quo. The resources are then spread to the youth through the Respect Labs.

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Lissa Thiele, a juvenile justice commissioner in Santa Clara County and an instructor at Summit Public Schools, watches a video being shown at their workshop. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

Lissa Thiele, a juvenile justice commissioner in Santa Clara County and an instructor at Summit Public Schools, said, “The point of the Respect Labs then is to practice taking things that really are called barriers to thrive and to be able to take some of the invisible barriers and make turn them into something that is visible.” Ms. Thiele added that turning invisible barriers visible will not get rid of them yet; however, for the students who plan to pursue postsecondary education and employment, the barriers need to be taken in consideration because “chances are, those barriers were not put there by [the students].”

Courtney Macavinta, the co-founder and CEO of the Respect Institute, was referenced in the presentation to explain why Telling Your Truth is important: “Sometimes telling your truth is a quiet act. It’s about being true to yourself and not being fake. Telling your truth helps you learn from your experiences, accept yourself more and recover from disrespect. So be honest about who you are and where you’ve been. If you’ve been hurt, tell your story to someone who can help. When you’re stronger, tell your story to others to help them. When you’ve learned something powerful that can benefit us all, Tell Your Truth far and wide to help the world.”

Student speaker Taylor Amper presented about the gender bias in victim blaming and the barriers students with a conviction history will face when applying for employment.

One story that was shared was of a high school student in Santa Clara County who sent vulnerable pictures of herself to an older guy she was dating at the time. The man then leaked the photos, and the images spread around campus. Soon, police got involved.

The high school student was charged with committing a crime because she was a minor when she took the pictures of herself and sent it to her boyfriend. At the time, she did not know yet, but she would later be charged with child porn distribution. The story ended with the man not getting in trouble with school administration.

In the high school student’s case, she pondered if she was a victim or perpetrator. Amper said that is the issue with the justice system: the high school student was the one who was exposed and seen throughout her school: “The issue here is that the justice system likes to blame the victim for something that they didn’t know what they were doing or something that is out of their control. The justice system, most of the time, wants to defend the men that commit these crimes.”

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Student speaker Taylor Amper presented about barriers students with a conviction history will face when applying for employment. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

Amper commented that stories like these do not define the individual as a whole; however, when employers are looking at the applications, they don’t get to see or hear the whole story.

On job applications, there is a box asking applicants if they have a criminal history. This box is the first thing the employer sees when reviewing applications. The applicants are then judged based on their conviction history and not on their qualifications as an applicant; the label of a conviction automatically disqualifies the applicant during the selection process. This creates a barrier for people with the label of a criminal history to be employed.

In the case of the high school student, the first thing employers see is her record for distribution of child porn. The applicant doesn’t get an opportunity to explain the conviction was during her freshman year, when she sent vulnerable pictures of herself to her boyfriend at the time, who then leaked it to their peers.

According to the Sentencing Project, by the age of 23, one-third of adults in the United States have been arrested. They also stated, “More than 60 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals are unemployed one year after being released; those who do find jobs take home 40 percent less pay annually.”

Starting in 2004, The Ban the Box Campaign was started to advocate for employers to choose their applicants based on their past job experiences first. A chain of Peace and Justice Community Summits recognized that people coming back from incarnation faced discrimination when trying to find employment in addition to housing, due to their record.

The Society of Human Resources reported that some states have since then took the initiative to ban the box on the application completely, while some states refine their policy to have a more fair hiring process. For example, some states’ law makes it so employers can only request a background check after a conditional job offer is made.

Ms. Thiele added, “This is not something in which we are saying, ‘Get rid of a criminal background check.’ That’s absolutely 100 percent not what we are saying, but rather that the first step of this should not be that, and we do talk about changing the narrative.

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Lissa Thiele, a juvenile justice commissioner in Santa Clara County and an instructor at Summit Public Schools, talks about the Ban the Box Movement. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

When you have women who are incarcerated, and we say, ‘This woman is incarcerated; she’s incarcerated; she’s a prisoner.’ Why don’t we start by saying, ‘This woman is a daughter. This woman is — she’s incarcerated but that’s not the first thing. She’s a mom, she’s a daughter, she’s a cousin.’ Why don’t we start that way?”

There were also three videos briefly shown during the workshop. The first one was The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking, where the video explores the barriers young girls living in poverty can encounter and empowers them to rise up through those barriers. The other two videos focused on “two different women of colors’ journey in telling their truths and finding success with navigating a path through education and careers,” as stated in the slideshow used for the workshop.


UCSC Career Coach Christina Hall attended the workshop. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

When asked what her favorite part of the workshop was, UCSC Career Coach Christina Hall said hearing the student stories: “It’s so inspiring to be there when somebody is in this moment of courage and they’re really sort of like willing to put themselves out there, because if these things happen to them, something similar has happened to other people, and, I think the more you hear stories about these things, the more it’s normalized.” She also said she hopes that as more of these stories get told, more people realize they are not alone and can ask for help.

After the workshop, Maria Viveros, a second-year UCSC transfer student who is majoring in neuroscience said, “I just felt that like being a woman of color also connected — I was also connected to that part of it because I felt that we, as woman in this society, face many barriers in that aspect and even though we have different stories, many of those barriers that we do face are very similar. If you’re a woman of color, if you are an unrepresented person or just undocumented and just living in poverty all those are very — aspects that many, many people could connect to, and I feel like that’s what makes us connected to one another.”

Featured image (at the top of this post): The reporter (far right) is pictured with Lissa Thiele and her Respect Lab interns: (left to right) Prep senior Robert Wilds, Everest alumni Emily Hallamasek, Rainier senior Taylor Amper, Commissioner Lissa Thiele, Everest senior Bella and Rainier senior Allison Alpuerto.

Click this link for the Google slides used in the workshop.  

New course seeks to teach adulting skills

By Rylee Storms

Staff Writer

“My mom’s an accountant, but I don’t want to rely on her to do my taxes forever.” This is what Shawn Wilson responded with after being asked why he participates in Adulting 101 at Everest Public High School in Redwood City, CA. The senior student is just one example of the many who take this helpful class.

Wilson explained his motive for signing up saying, “I thought it would give me useful information that would be applicable to my life after Everest.” The class is a new offer this year at Everest, created after being requested by students.


Everest senior Shawn Wilson

A second student taking Adulting, Anayely Magana, responded when asked if information given in Adulting was new to her, saying, “I already know some of the steps to get a job. The part that is adding to it is it’s helping me do interviews.”

The mock interviews take place at Everest and involve local resources in order to provide a realistic experience to learn how interviews work. Resumes will also be checked and read to provide help. Interview topics discussed in the class included typos in a resume, interests, effort, background and illegal questions.

In addition to the realistic questions and analysis, students are also required to dress formal in order to impress whoever is interviewing. This is useful as it gives them a sense of professional visual appearance and its impact.

Magana explained that her real interview was on the same day as the mock interview, saying, “I applied for a job, so I’m hoping that the mock interview will help me. I hope that the resume will help me too.” The mock interview involves volunteers coming to the school and acting out very realistic interviews.


Everest senior Anayely Magana

The teacher of this class, Zoe Marinkovich, said the class was designed after “students asked for help with getting driver’s licenses, jobs and paying taxes, so I tried to build a course that would cover as much of that as possible.” The teacher added that the course was originally just an idea that she believed couldn’t happen due to the diversity of requests.

Ms. Marinkovich explained her hopes for the students, saying, “I hope they vote and read the news. I hope they make smart choices about money. I hope they know their rights as employees. I hope they have some confidence that they can figure out adult problems and make good choices.” The course is designed to provide real experiences with volunteers and guest speakers.

In response to a question about the age range of students and what students are most interested in Adulting, Ms. Marinkovich speculated, “At first I thought ninth graders wouldn’t be interested, but some of my best, most curious students are ninth graders.” As mentioned previously, freshmen are the second most abundant group in her class next to seniors, Ms. Marinkovich having only a one person difference between the two grades.

When asked about who she would recommend the class to, Magana said, “I would to anyone who just wants to learn any skills that are important.” Magana concluded that the class was useful to students from any grade level.

A recommendation of grade level was also given by Wilson, stating,  “I would recommend this class to people who are worried about knowing what to do after high school, or people who don’t have a lot of support at home learning about the real world.” The class includes nine freshmen, two sophomores, three juniors and 10 seniors this year.

When asked about the first round of Expeditions, Wilson said, “The first round was all about well-being, and I think I’ll hopefully be applying that throughout my life in order to be a happier person.” This provided insight on how this class originally started off.

Well-being was prioritized, centering on making yourself happy and being proud of who you are. It also focused on mental health, being brave and overall fulfillment. Ms. Marinkovich taught her students “power poses,” in which students pose in a way that helps them feel brave and ready before interviews and projects.


Ms. Marinkovich shows her power pose to the students before their mock interviews.

Wilson explained, “This round I’m learning more about the path I want to take in college and after college.” The students at this time were designing a resume that would be reviewed by volunteers, along with searching for job opportunities. The resume lessons include learning about appropriate times to use color on resumes, fonts, formatting, unique styles, and the overall process of creating and updating a resume.


Students work quietly as they prepare for a mock interview.


Another lesson in the current round  involved Erin L. McDermit, a volunteer speaker who came to Everest Public High School to discuss legal matters at work. She mentioned many factors that involve young adults just starting in the work field. Dating in work was mentioned and so was sexual harassment.

Legal protection was a large part of the speech, including the factors that protect new workers in open employment. It was stated that you can’t be fired for illegal reasons such as race, opinion, etc.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing were two organizations that were discussed in order to raise awareness about writing complaints in a workplace. McDermit discussed situations of harassment that she experienced at work. She discussed preventative methods in order to not harass people or be harassed.  After the speech ended, students went back to work on their resumes.

Ms. Marinkovich explained that some of her students face unique obstacles: “The world is not a fair place we live in; for my undocumented students, a lot of things we do don’t apply to them. They’re not eligible for Social Security.” The class, however, still teaches every student these skills, no matter if they can or can’t use them.


Adulting teacher Zoe Marinkovich

After being questioned if she was prepared when it came to jobs, Ms. Marinkovich said, “For my field – yes. I’ve been working with young people and schools forever. I recently became a classroom teacher, but it was an easy enough transition since I had worked in schools for years. I think how I have managed money, debt and student loans is another story. I hope my students learn from my mistakes.” 

Expeditions students explore potential careers

By Liz Kromrey

Staff Writer

The closer students get to senior year, the more they start to worry about what career they want to pursue or study during college. Using the Expeditions classes College Readiness, Internship and Sociology of Law, students are able to get closer to knowing what career they want to follow.


File_004At the beginning of the year, students applied to internship positions at jobs they wished to pursue. The jobs they did as interns changed depending on which business they were assigned to. While interning at Alpha Tech, Rainier senior Willy Teav was assigned the job of counting lightbulbs: “I did a lot of counting, a lot of math skills.”

File_001Rainier senior Judit Solorio interned at a Tech Shop, where she was able to use equipment such as the laser cutter. 

College Readiness:

Ashley Pinnell and Veronica Bettencourt were the teachers this year for College Readiness, and both got to showcase so many things that go into the process of college application for the juniors this year. The students in their class detailed what made them interested in certain colleges during the Celebration of Learning showcase.



Rainier junior Jackie Diaz gives her presentation, highlighting that she wants to attend a small Christian university on the West Coast and that she is looking forward to the independence that comes when going to college.





Rainier junior Rylie Weaver presents to the after-school audience, explaining that his dream school is Princeton and that it is considered a lottery school.


20170511_181948Rainier junior Mario Rios presents his best fit criteria document to onlookers. Rios spoke about his target college, ASU. 

20170511_183513Rainier junior Matthew Guerrero, chose to use a slides presentation to talk about his target school, USC. 

Sociology of Law:

In this course, students from all different grade levels took part in learning about the sociological effects of the law in our country. Here are some perspectives from students, faculty and parents on the question: Should we have armed guards in all public schools across the nation to help prevent mass shootings in schools?




Lissa Thiele facilitates a Socratic seminar in which students and parents discussed how best to keep schools safe. 




Rainier junior Jackie Diaz stated that having armed guards at all public schools would create a hostile environment.

Adding onto that, Elizabeth Franco-Lee, parent of Rainier senior Joshua Franco-Lee, stated that there would be a high level of worry brought onto parents of children at schools with armed guards due to the possibility of accidental shootings.

 The group then debated the following question: Even if this idea were to happen, where would we get all the funding from? What would this funding take away from other school programs?



Tahoma students tackle real world issues during Expeditions

By Kenia Bustos

Staff Writer

This year students at Summit Tahoma have been working on engaging projects during Expeditions. At the beginning of the year students chose a course of eight weeks (the courses are separated into two-week rounds throughout the year). In their courses, students learned how to develop skills that will eventually help them with future projects. The school offers many options for courses that students can take. On April 6, the Tahoma families got together to see all the great work students have been doing.


Students displayed their business plans, and, if parents liked their plan, they would give a “Tahoma Bill.”

College Readiness

At Summit Public Schools, juniors take this course to learn the importance of preparing for college, covering subjects like college applications, financial aid and acceptance requirements. Students presented what colleges they want to go to and the requirements they will need to meet to reach their goals. Below, Nicole Cunanan presents her College Readiness portfolio. 



Students developed their talent through their internship course. They had different experiences, such as working in robotics, learning about the medical field, helping kids learn about nature and performing in theater.

Sociology of Law

Students and parents had a Socratic where they discussed the importance of going to school in a safe environment. The question for the seminar was whether or not having a security guard or an armed officer would make them feel safer at school.

Human Sexuality

Students informed Tahoma parents about the importance of talking to their children about sex, gender identity and sexuality. They covered issues such as STI prevention, birth control and healthy relationships.

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