• Posted on: May 5, 2017

Powerful Women of EOYDC V

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We celebrate International Women’s Month. In particular we lift this week as Black Women’s Week.

Our history of lifting and supporting each other is both gender specific and village in particular. It is through our cascading mentoring model that we share insight to our lives, our vulnerabilities, goals and dreams. We plot a path for each young women to understand the preparedness they must demonstrate toward each goal they want to reach. We seek to empower, encourage and educate throughout their journey.

Fascination is on their faces as they read. We believe that exposure is key to their success. That is why each day we challenge our young ladies to stretch through activities, games, field trips and discussions.

We open an amazing world of possibility as they navigate the EOYDC experience!

The next generation of champions is honed at EOYDC. The majority are servant leaders and in training to become servant professionals. WE are proud to present the fifth installation of Powerful Women of EOYDC.


Amber Murphy

California State University, East Bay, Sociology/Political Science

My name is Amber Murphy and I have been a member of EOYDC for the past 6 years. I am currently a senior at Cal State East Bay where I will be graduating in June with a degree in Sociology and Political Science. After graduation, I plan to attend UC Hastings Law School with a concentration in corporate law. I recently accepted a position at Wells Fargo where I hope to gain valuable information about the corporate sector and better prepare me for my career.

I first became involved in EOYDC as a member of the Pathway to College Program when I was a senior in high school. In addition to trying to keep up with my coursework, I had the daunting task of completing college applications and preparing myself for the next major step in my educational career. The Pathway to College Program helped me in every way possible. Not only did they walk me through my application, admission essay, and FAFSA, but they gave me valuable life lessons as well. Throughout my time in the program I learned the importance of organization, time management, networking, and locating resources to help me succeed. What I loved most about the program was that I was surrounded by successful, caring, and helpful people who genuinely wanted to see me grow. Even after I completed the program, I still receive nothing but encouragement and support from the EOYDC family. I gained so many valuable relationships not only with the other participants but with the directors as well. Currently, I visit the center to volunteer with the same Pathway to College Program I was in years ago. By participating in the events with the high school students, I have the opportunity to pass on the valuable lessons EOYDC has given me.

Arianna Bell

Howard University, Marketing

My name is Arianna Bell. I was raised in Hercules, California and attended EOYDC for their summer programs for 3 years. I went to Salesian High School and graduated in 2012 as the Senior Class President with a 4.0 GPA. I was given a full-paid tuition scholarship to Howard University in Washington, DC.

I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain for a semester of my college tenure. While abroad, I was able travel to over 10 countries and develop my Spanish language comprehension. I will be graduating in May 2016, with a full-time job offer from Marsh USA in Atlanta, Georgia as a Specialty Products Broker.

Astiee Carver

Clark Atlanta University, Sports & Entertainment Management

My name is Astiee Carver; I am a sophomore at the illustrious Clark Atlanta University. I am majoring in business, concentrating on sports and entertainment management, while minoring in mass media broadcasting. I aspire to be an event planner or a sports agent with my degree.

I was blessed with the opportunity to be a participant of EOYDC in 2014, my senior year of high school. Instantly, I was exposed to all kinds of amazing people and opportunities. For example, I was allowed the chance to fly to New York to explore the option of going to college on the east coast. (Back then, it was entirely out of the question for me to even consider going to school outside of California, I was perfectly fine staying where I was.) Thankfully, Ms. Regina (and Ms. Patrice!) opened my eyes to the reality of stepping out of my comfort zone. Thanks to both of those amazing women, I am out in Atlanta, GA, building lifelong connections, networking and developing upon myself and my ideas. EOYDC instilled the sense of unity and the importance of balancing work and fun so much, that I knew I had to be involved on campus. Since coming to Clark Atlanta University, I have joined clubs like Fem De La Crème, a women’s empowerment group that provides a way for women to create a sisterhood of support and love on campus. I also joined the California Club, Next Great American Poet (NGAP), and have been singing around little campus events. I am blossoming into a young woman, that concept might have been non-existent if not for EOYDC.

I will forever be grateful for the great doors EOYDC has, and will continue to open for me.

Christina Francis

UC Riverside

University of San Francisco, Masters of Science, Behavioral Health

My personal belief is if one possesses the necessary skills and is given direction and support, that individual can confidently take charge of, move forward with, and succeed in any area of their life. EOYDC has contributed to the development and growth within the Oakland community and has touched the lives of many individuals. I attended the Summer Cultural Enrichment (SCEP) Program with my brother at the age of 12 and worked as a youth leader and music instructor in the program at the age of 15. As a music instructor, my class was always full of beautiful children that were eager to learn the new piano or vocal concept I was teaching. EOYDC has added to my development as a successful African American woman and I am very thankful and grateful for the opportunity that I was given.

I am currently pursuing my Masters of Science in Behavioral Health and work as a Behavior therapist with children and young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. I have been working in the mental health field for a little over 5 years and I am very passionate about this field. I graduated from the University of California, Riverside with my Bachelor of Science in Sociology and a minor in Creative writing. During my 4-year undergraduate career, I was given the opportunity to sing professionally as a background singer for Deitrick Haddon and the League of Extraordinary Worshippers. I was given the opportunity to record in a studio and record a freshman gospel album. During my senior year, I also started Leaders Destined for Greatness, a small non-profit organization for individuals that live below the poverty level in the Oakland community. My organization has given clothes, food and gifts to the community and is continuously working closely with individuals in the community to help make living a little easier without the everyday stresses that may come with not being able to provide the necessary essentials for their families. Lastly, I have had the opportunity to travel and enjoy every part of life. From visiting beautiful places like Miami, Florida and Paris, France and taking risks like skydiving out of plane that was 13,000 feet in the sky and jet skiing in the Atlantic Ocean, there is nothing that can stop a confident woman.

I ultimately plan to attend medical school fall of 2017 upon completing my Master’s Program at USF. I plan to specialize in Cardiology and pursue a career as a Cardiovascular Surgeon. I know that with God all things are possible and he is the reason for all of my success so far. I also feel that God put EOYDC in my path to help cultivate my gifts and talents that have contributed to my successes. EOYDC thrives on creating and maintaining family bonds and for that I thank Ms. Regina Jackson and the EOYDC family.

Cristina Ojeda

California State University, East Bay, Undeclared

My name is Cristina Ojeda and I am 21 years old. I will start off by saying that it hasn’t been an easy ride for me. Not only was high school a bad experience, but I still managed an acceptance to CSU East Bay. I never gave up on my dream of attending UC Berkeley so I attended Merritt Community College for a second shot. I ended up pregnant at 19 but continued in school. Long story short, 4 years later I’m happy to say that I will be graduating in May with my AA. It may not have been my first choice 4 years ago but I’m happy that with dedication, I’ve worked and attended school full time to reach my new goals, providing my son with a better future. Growing up I attended the EOYDC, the best decision I made. I honestly met a lot of wonderful staff and friends who to this day are still part of my life. I was in the book club which was a hobby of mine that I loved doing. I grew a huge interest for Parks and how she stood for her beliefs on what was right. I wish I could thank her personally for allowing me to never give up for what I believe in. African dance was my favorite at the EOYDC because it made me be more confident in myself and to try something new. As the semester begins I know I have a lot of thinking into the future to do. I may go back to school for my final try at transferring in the fall of 2016. I know what it is to fall and struggle to get back up but I also know what life has been without a degree. I can’t stress how thankful I am to those who have helped me through my journey and I encourage others going through a hard time that those moments are meant to build a stronger outer skin for this though world.

Geneva Williams

Chabot College AS, Liberal Arts

The first time I went to EOYDC I met Ms. Regina and she was walking around to all the Youth Leader candidates introducing herself, I was so nervous because the way she carries herself you can tell she is a strong, confident woman, who does not play. But from the moment I shook her hand in that room of candidates she became a Godsend. Using the interviewing techniques she taught me I was able to secure multiple leadership positions within EOYDC and outside of EOYDC. I am currently a Deputy Court Clerk at San Mateo County Courts, a process that consisted of several interviews, each one I could not have passed without the coaching I received at EOYDC.

Ms. Regina asked me to also share with you about my educational experience, in which I replied, “What experience?” After she checked me — I realized that my journey could be something that others need to hear about, even if I do not think it is that spectacular, someone might. So here it goes, I was an ideal high school student (homework on time, extra credit, volunteering, yearbook, etc.). There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to college; I decided to go to San Francisco State in Fall 2008 because of the dumb reason that simply: it was not CSU East Bay (which I knew about half my class was going to go to). In the end, I got kicked out for bad grades and not taking a required course, so then I had to go to Chabot College and I graduated with my AS in Liberal Arts in May 2015. I am currently taking steps to get my Bachelor’s in Business and I recently just co-authored a book entitled “The Twenties Suck- Twenty Something Fables to Survive your 20’s” . My future career goal is to be a business owner.

I know I may sound like I am being negative but I am being honest because I find that is the only way to get the nature of my educational experience across.

If I wanted anyone to get something from this post it would be to not be lazy and always make sure you are living life at your full potential.

Isis Walls

Clark Atlanta University, Psychology

I have been part of the EOYDC family for about 3 years now. I began working as a 12 & 13 youth leader for the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program and every year after that I was a 12 & 13 youth leader. I was also a math and science tutor for the leadership program where the kids came and did their homework before they went to join the other programs at EOYDC. Not only does EOYDC offer the wonderful SCEP, they also have a lot of great programs that go on during the school year such as the homework center, cooking class, art class, gym, etc. All of these programs are definitely worth trying out especially cooking. While EOYDC offers these wonderful programs they also craft every individual into a leader and a better person as a whole. Let me not forget the extravagant PTC program, one of the reasons why I am in college today. Pathway to College (PTC) is a wonderful program for students in high school. I was also lucky to be part of best college tour I have ever been on where we visited New York and the colleges close by such as Columbia University, NYU and more. Every Thursday the seniors meet up and there will always be a list of assignments to do by the end of the class, which are usually scholarships. The instructor of the class at the time was Ms. Jasmine and she always helped up with anything we needed help with, she made sure all of our scholarships were completed on time with the right requirements included. She helped me with and revised my personal statement and made sure it was college ready. Ms. Talia is also a wonderful instructor and does the same as Ms. Jasmine did making sure every one of the PTC participants make it to a great college.

I am currently a sophomore at Clark-Atlanta University majoring in psychology. My future plans are to become a marriage and family counselor and save/restore married couples and families. Some on campus activities I have participated in are this past spring fest show. I participated in the girl’s powder puff football game. I have also participated in a couple volunteer opportunities such as planned parenthood and at Imhotep elementary school where we helped kids ages 5–10 improve their reading skills and showed them how to do it. I love children and I help out whenever I can.

Jamie Hooker

California State University, East Bay, Criminal justice and psychology

I am attending my third year at Cal State East Bay working to earn a degree in criminal justice, and a minor in psychology in order to become a probation officer.

I grew up in Oakland California. As a child I would always walk past the center wondering what was going on inside this big building. I was finally introduced into EOYDC in 2011, when I applied to be a youth leader. I was then hired to work that year in the summer program. Working at EOYDC was my second job as a teen. The only difference was I was able to change my ways for the better, learned new things and was able to have fun while doing so. Being a part of this family was the best thing that could have happened at the time. Going into highschool I started to face a lot of difficult challenges, and I was able to find myself working at EOYDC. I was able to meet people I was comfortable being around and who I knew would not judge me for my mistakes. My co-workers are more than just people I work with, they are like friends some more like brothers and sisters.

Since then I have been working at EOYDC; going on my fifth year. I started off as a youth leader, became life skills instructor for two years, and has also taken the role of being the ASLA(After School Leadership Academy) coordinator. I learned a lot of important skills in this work force. I’ve learned to speak in a respectful manner and I know how to be a lot more patient. I am also thankful for the pathway to college program because they helped me get into Cal State East Bay. They supported me by making sure my papers were sent in on time and helping me practice on how to apply to scholarships. I can only get better from this point forward. I was always told life is what you make it and I am old enough to understand that now. Success is my biggest motivation to make it out the streets on to bigger and better things.

I will always give thanks for Ms. Regina for being the mother of the center and staying on top of things. She is an amazing woman who has played a significant role in my life. At times I feel down and upset because the last thing I want to do is disappoint her, but no matter what she is always willing to listen. She believes in me when no one else does. That is the reason I work so hard today! I would also like to Thank Ms. Anana for having those small talks whenever needed. Any questions I would have on school she was there to help in any way possible.

Jasmin Wilcox

GED Graduate

Merrit College, Associate of Arts, Health Science

When I first opened the doors to EOYDC, I opened the doors as a troubled teen trying to find my path in life. I started the GED program at EOYDC in 2003, but it wasn’t until Ms. Anana & Ms. Regina stepped into my life making sure I understood that I needed to focus. December 2004 I passed my exam and it was then that I realized that not only did I receive my GED, but I gained friends, teachers, counselors, mentors and a complete support system. In 2007 I graduated with honors as a Medical Assistant. I am currently in my second year at Merritt College receiving my AA in Health Science and will be transferring to a University to obtain my bachelors to become a Registered Nurse. I asked Ms. Regina to come speak for an event honoring our Successful African American Women and she came with no hesitations. Her success story was so inspirational that I knew I couldn’t give up and I would strive to have the strength she possesses. EOYDC has really helped me to strive for greatness. I’ve learned the importance of education, persistence and dedication from hearing Ms. Regina’s story and watching the love she pours into our children and our community. Thank you to the EOYDC family for giving me hope into my future because if it wasn’t for your love, support and guidance, I’m not sure where I would be today.

Jazmyne Drakeford

San Jose State University, International Relations & Affairs

Ever since I was a child, my parents put extreme emphasis on the importance of community; “it takes a village to raise a child” is the phrase that still rings in my head till this day. And as cliché as it may be to use, it couldn’t be more true.

Of course, I have my parents and family to thank for molding me into the confident, tenacious, and vibrant, young woman that I am today, but it was the experiences I’ve had, and the relationships I built at EOYDC, that truly made me understand the importance of community in Oakland and beyond.

From being a high-energy 8 year old in the summer program, to a high school senior in the Pathway to College program, all the way until now, Ms. Regina and EOYDC has prepared me for the world socially, politically, and culturally.

I am currently an International Relations student at San Jose State University with aspirations of moving to New York and becoming an ambassador for the United Nations. I am fluent in two languages, now working on my third.

Outside of school, I am building my brand as an outspoken content creator and vlogger on YouTube and various other social media platforms. I am amazed by the amount of acknowledgement and praise I’ve received through my videos, but extremely appreciative nonetheless. I’ve also used the traction I’ve gained from my videos to start several online businesses.

As I continue my journey of activism for human rights, ending police brutality, empowering the Black community, and much more, I will always remember where my journey began…..right here, at home, at EOYDC.

Kristen Barker

San Francisco State University, B.A. Broadcasting and Electronic Communications

I have been affiliated with the East Oakland Youth Development Center for about 10 years. My journey began when at the age of 14 when I volunteered to be a tutor in the Homework Center. Ms. Regina did a presentation at my middle school the summer before I entered high school, in which she explained and introduced the youth center to me and my fellow classmates. That summer was just the beginning of a lifetime relationship with not just the center, but with the family that the center creates. After volunteering for a year, that following summer I was a youth leader for the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program. I will say that was one of the best summers of my life. I met new people, formed relationships with the children and most of all learned how to become a better leader. Because I was in the position of leadership I had to set daily examples for the children. From there I only progressed with the center; I was hired to be a full time tutor, the following summer I was the assistant director of the summer program and even became a mentor to many of the young girls.

My connection to the EOYDC has only opened doors for me. The center not only gave me my first job, but taught me how to balance school, work and relationships. Throughout high school I maintained a 3.7 GPA, while learning that what I do affects the children I mentor on a daily basis. I pushed myself so that I could be that example. The opportunities, places and people I met through the EOYDC only molded me into a better woman. I have recently graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Broadcasting and Electronic Communications. From there I interned at KRON 4 News station, where I was only welcomed with open arms because of the connection with the center. The EOYDC has helped me become a better student, leader and well-rounded individual with nothing but opportunity in front of me. Without that visit from Ms. Regina I would have never known about the center but because of her I am forever thankful. The EOYDC has made me a part of their family and I am glad to be a part of it.

Marisa Jolivette

California State University, East Bay, Bio-Chemistry

Coming to EOYDC was the opportunity for me to turn my life around. Coming into high school, I became truant every year until my sophomore year when I first joined EOYDC. Not caring about the importance of my education, Ms. Regina sent me to join Pathway to College and at that point I found myself valuing myself and my decisions more. As I began my sophomore year, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to New York, and the Bay Area college tour. Having the chance to go to college tours, becoming a youth leader and instructor the for the SCEP Program, and being a part of EOYDC has taught me so much about myself, helped me grow in ways I never thought I would, and helped me to accept, take ownership and learn from my mistakes. Most importantly, being selected to go to China apart of the first group of Obama’s One Hundred Thousand Strong Initiative helped me to learn more about the importance of other cultures by having a hands on experience rather than basing what I know about cultures on common stereotypes. I am now a second year student at California State University, East Bay as a biochemistry major I have the desire and dreams to one day become a pediatric nurse and help save the lives of youth in my community. Yet, getting here I would have to credit EOYDC and the staff for helping me become and grown into the young women I am today.

Markeia Brox-Chester

University of San Diego, Business Administration, ‘16
Undergraduate Admissions Office Associate

In elementary school, I remember visiting the East Oakland Youth Development Center and seeing a community of thriving, intelligent youth who would do nothing less than take this world by storm. The opportunities given to students by EOYDC are what set them apart from their peers. When I walked into EOYDC ten years ago, I got the same feeling I get today, I have a purpose in this world. Growing up around other individuals that have the same drive, passion, and ambition creates an outstanding network of support as we all look to move to higher education. I am a strong believer that you are a product of your environment and when you surround yourself with people who have the same goals and ambitions, you will thrive. Networking events such as “Something for Everyone”, allowed me to engage with executives at the Port of Oakland, making me a stand out candidate during my summer internship with the Oakland International Airport. As a current senior studying Business Management at the University of San Diego, I look back on my development and appreciate my foundation. My foundation is what kept me applying to more than 30 internships until I received an interview. Currently, I am working in the human resources department of Victoria’s Secret, a multi-billion dollar organization. The knowledge gained in this internship led me to greater opportunities to grow my career. My perseverance led me to accepting a post-graduate career with Adobe’s People and Places department ten months prior to my expected graduation date. Seeing every obstacle as a learning experience instead of a downfall is why I am proud of the woman I am today. EOYDC taught me to never settle for less. I know that when my dreams and goals no longer scare me, they aren’t big enough.

Mija Mason

Clark Atlanta University, Biology, Minor in Merchandising

I am a current student at Clark Atlanta University, biology major with a minor in merchandising. A sophomore studying two totally different subjects, that both reflect who I am. I have been attending the East Oakland Youth Development Center since I was in the third grade and I have continued to stay connected with them since. The EOYDC not only was just a place to get away, it also helped me throughout my school years. I first started attending their afterschool program, where I was tutored and helped with my homework. Later on, I became a youth leader for the summer cultural enrichment program, an afterschool leadership academy tutor as well as a fashion instructor. The EOYDC has opened many doors for me. As a child I was very shy and kept to myself. When I started coming to the EOYDC I slowly began to break out of my shell. They taught me that everyone has a voice. I give the utmost respect to the Pathway to college program. Without them I probably would not be attending the illustrious Clark Atlanta University. With the help from Pathway to college I was able to apply to scholarships, get help on college applications, personal statements, apply for the SAT, ACT, and always had someone to talk to about the difficulties of attending college. Not only was I assisted with college but also have been on a college tour, which was the Washington, D.C. trip. The EOYDC gave me multiple opportunities and has helped me grow into an amazing person that I am today. I would like to thank all of the staff, children and of course Ms. Regina for encouraging me to focus and pursue my dreams. Looking back I wonder how my life would be without them. I have gained so many important skills that I use every day from the EOYDC. I look forward to continue staying connected with the center throughout my life and one day hopefully being able to give back to such a profound program.

Rynisha Tre’na Lynch

Sonoma State University, Educational Business

I have been affiliated with the East Oakland Development Center for the last three years and I continue to find myself involved within the center and checking in with the amazing people I have met through the Coro Exploration Leadership Program that provided me with the honor to have a summer internship with the Pathway to College department. When I first walked in the doors I instantly felt welcomed and felt at home.

My connection to the EOYDC has opened many doors for me. Not only connecting with the community organization and meet the most kindest respectful people which provided me with professional and personal life skills that will follow me a lifetime.

I am currently a second year at Sonoma State University I plan on continuing to complete a masters in Educational Leadership with my life goals to leave my mark in the educational community. By making improvements in not only the Oakland Unified School District that I am a product of myself but within our own comminutes making education the most important aspect to result in successful students to become successful young adults.

The EOYDC has supported me as I am becoming a well-rounded person. I would have not become as determined and focused and have the lessons without the best supervisors and mother figure Ms. Regina Jackson, Anana Scott, Jackie Anderson and Jasmine Thompson. These women have played a pivotal role in my life. They believed that I could do more than I would even imagined possible and still pushing me to be as successful as possible today and in the future!

Taniya Janae Bazille

Clark Atlanta University, Undeclared

It all started of back in the day when I was first introduced to EOYDC. At the age of six, I was involved with the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program and been involved ever since. I would come with my two brothers and my two cousins, and my oldest brother was a youth leader. I met a lot of different people, mostly coming from the same background and been involved with the EOYDC until this day. I was a SCEP participant and then turned into a youth leader for three years. My first year working for SCEP, I worked with the 6–7 age group.

The two following summers I worked with the 8–9 age group and my most previous year, I decided to apply for an successfully became the creative writing instructor. Becoming an instructor is so much different from being a youth leader. Being an instructor comes with higher responsibilities and expectations. Being involved with SCEP, there are many different activities that you can be a part of. There is dance, music, math, science, computers, art, cooking, drama, life-skills, creative writing, fashion, gym and in previous years there was also spanish, engineering and history. They also used to have this program every Friday after SCEP called “Friday Night Live” and they had different activities to do like cooking, karaoke, basketball, dancing and a waist beading class. I would always be a part of the waist beading classes or in the gym shooting around, working on my shot. I was also a part of the EOYDC’s book club for about 2 years and bonded with my book club sisters. During the school time, I was involved with pathway to college. I actively participated in the Pathway to College Program my junior and senior year in high school and it has helped me get to where I need to be. My school was somewhat helpful when it came to college, but not as helpful and motivating as the EOYDC. My pathway to college advisor, Ms. Talia, was a great big help and always told to “get focused and get serious about our money”.

If I was not to attend EOYDC’s pathway to college program, then 9 times out of 10 I wouldn’t be attending Clark Atlanta University. Growing up in the center was a big advantage for me in the long run and it has introduced me to many outside activities. I participated in Raider halftime shows, Warrior games, college tours to LA, New York, Atlanta, and I’ve been introduced to very important people. I’ve also received tickets to different shows, networked with people from different dreams and different careers and engaged in positive feedback and advice about how to accumulate wealth. I am thankful to call EOYDC my second home and I appreciate how far EOYDC has taken me. Coming to the EOYDC, I met a lot of genuine people and they became lifetime friends. I’ve as well introduced many others to EOYDC and they became a part of the family. I’ll never forget the memories that I’ve shared with my EOYDC family and I’ll never forget being involved in so many different activities. I’ve learned so much from being involved with EOYDC and I’m glad I was put into the program 12 years ago. Lastly, EOYDC was the first to willingly give me my first scholarship and I am more than thankful, blessed and honored to accept. Without being a part of the EOYDC family, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be who I am today.


Cierra Standford

Operation Associate, Playworks

California State University, East Bay

I began my journey at the EOYDC the summer of 2003. My entire childhood I lived four houses down from the center. For years I anticipated going to the center; however, I was always afraid. I was scared of being an outcast, I didn’t know anyone at the center and most importantly I was extremely fearful of the unknown.

My junior year of high school I decided to face my fears, as I walked up to the EOYDC doors, fear overwhelmed me and I proceeded to turn away, but then I was stopped by the Director who was hiring for the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program. She asked if I was there for the summer program training, I responded and told her no. She then asked, was I interested. By this point, I was so nervous and shaking because of fear; I just knew I was going to faint right then and there. Thankfully, I pushed past my uncertainties and I replied yes, and I was invited to attend the training. In that moment, I didn’t realize my journey to finding who I was had just began.

That summer I learned a lot about working with children and the importance of a good role model. While I worked as a Youth Leader I took my job very seriously, I took time out to listen to the kids and all the things I wish I had in my life as I child I tried to provide to the kids. Growing up I lacked reliable role models, I also missed the opportunity to be completely valued by adults and peers, and because I didn’t have these opportunities I would build walls up that kept me from finding who I was because I was so busy being who people thought I should be. As I became the role model I needed, I gained relationships with peers and adults that helped me become the young woman I needed to be.

I started as a Youth Leader that maneuvered through various roles throughout the center, such as a tutor in the Homework Center, Creative Writing Instructor, Assistant Director for the SCEP, and Homework Center Coordinator I was a young women in training. I didn’t understand the impact the center had on me, until I entered the real world and was able to see that through my years at the center I was a young woman in training. Before the center I was quite, shy, and more of a follower than a leader. After the shaping and molding from the center. I am now, independent, brave, and understand my value in life. The center gave me the opportunity to find my voice, to understand who I was and be proud of who I am. I believe I influenced many lives my years at the center and at the same time my life was forever changed after joining the EOYDC family.

Currently, I am attending Chabot Junior College and transferring in the fall to Cal State East Bay. I work as an Operations Associate for a non profit called, PlayWorks. My long term goal is to become a Guidance Counselor. I have taken all the skills that I have learned from the Center such as, leadership, respectful and loyalty to others and to myself I apply them to everyday life.

Jendayi Curry

California State Northridge, Business Administration

Hertz Rental

My journey at the EOYDC begin when I was about eight years old. I was first introduced by attending the summer cultural enrichment program (SCEP). I was so excited to be a part of a summer program where I could be with other kids my age. The youth leaders were all great and nice, they really cared for and took us under their wings. We took trips every Friday to different places! I remember going to Zoo, museums, water parks and theme parks! There were so many programs that were offered at the center, and me and my sisters enrolled into all of them. My favorite was cooking class, African dance, and Art. The instructor in cooking class was awesome! She taught us how to bake, and make healthy foods! It was a hands on experience so we got to get our hands sticky! African dance was so fun, we learned a lot from Sista Linda. We learned all the dances from West Africa and got to perform them at many events once we mastered the dances. She taught us self-discipline and to always be confident and be ourselves. In art class, we learned how to sculpt things, paint, draw, and make fun crafty pieces.

As I got older, I continued my journey with the EOYDC. I was able to become a youth leader to teach and instruct younger kids on the importance of learning. I learned leadership skills that later were an essential tool that would benefit me as I got older. I stay connected with the center up until I graduated from high school. The center was my “go to” spot to help me with homework and tutoring. I joined the EOYDC Pathway to college program my senior year of high school and was provided with so many resources and assistance that supported and help me and others prepare for college. PTC assisted me on how to write personal statements, fill out FAFSA forms and admission process. Because of my participation in the Pathway to college program, I landed a scholarship and college acceptance letters.

I attended Cal State Northridge and majored in Business Administration. I want to thank Ms. Regina for her dedication to the center and the youth of Oakland. Thank you for never giving up on us. I will forever be grateful for Ms. Regina and EOYDC for directing me onto the right path, to be self-motivated, and inspired me to always reach the top. EOYDC is my family! I am so happy I can say I was and continue to be a part of this organization.

Ivie Arasomwan

Program Associate, Arts Foundation

BA, Communication Studies, LMU ’11

Oakland, CA is still my favorite city out of all the spaces and places that I’ve visited in the world. One of the reasons that I’m so fond of my hometown can be found in the strength and determination that oozes out of the folks living in this city. If you’re from Oakland, you’ve either been to EOYDC, worked for the center, or have vivid memories imprinted on your youth because of the center — I happen to share all of the above.

EOYDC was my very first job as a teenager. I became a Summer Youth Leader at the age of 14 and this position both challenged and inspired me to rise to the occasion of being a youth ambassador in a city that needed them. I worked with students between the ages of 6–13 and it was an honor to be of service and help students build communication skills, respect for Oakland and hope for our community. Following my summer youth leader position, I had the wonderful opportunity of becoming a computer instructor. I was given the privilege at 16 to help young students of color learn how to build typing skills and Microsoft Office knowledge which had an immediate impact on their schoolwork. In addition to my job, some of the most beautiful memories that I had from the center was working alongside my young black colleagues. We were all under the age of 16, working hard to fulfill a mission that uplifted our folks. The camaraderie was through the roof and it helped me learned how to work with people from a young age. By employing young students from the community, the center built a foundation of trust, respect, humility, and a host of other virtues which I still carry with me today.

Education is one of the greatest agents of change for communities like East Oakland and it was truly a gift for me to be able to impart my vision of hope and resilience on young students.

I now live in Brooklyn, New York. I’m currently a program associate for an arts foundation and I’m working diligently to continue the legacy I started at EOYDC.

Karen Johnson

Paraprofessional, Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary

San Jose State University, B.A. Psychology

I remember starting off at EOYDC inquiring about the summer job fair to find out about jobs for youth in the community. The minute I walked into that building, I was in awe with all the staff that were my age and making a difference with our youth, I was immediately interested in working there. The next summer I was a Youth leader and during my senior year, I was a homework leader. I remember how confident and amazed by what EOYDC offered and how Ms. Regina looked out for each of us. From attending galas, scholarship gatherings, ROW Oakland and numerous other events that were great experiences.

From EOYDC, I have learned to strive and put forth work for what you want. Through college I have been working with children, joined the student affair committee, Black Student Union and Black Alliance of Student Engineers (BASE). Upon graduation I become a after school teacher helping children in under-served neighborhoods. I applied to Girls Inc. when I came back to the East Bay where I empowered and uplifted girls in low income neighborhoods as a 4th grade group leader. There we taught STEM, health, physical health and celebrating cultural differences. Currently I am working with children that have special needs and behavioral challenges. The many opportunities I have had have shaped me into who I am.

I definitely credit EOYDC for much of my success and for breaking me out of my shell and showing me different opportunities to grow. There I have met many genuine people that I consider family. I am getting ready to set out on my second journey for my masters in MFT. My lifelong goal is to work with children and contribute to their success, academically and personally. I am honored and truly thankful that Ms. Regina had allowed to be a part of the solution.

Kendra Lewis

DeVry University
Major: Business Administration
Concentration: Healthcare Services Management
Graduation Date: May, 2016

My EOYDC journey began 20 years ago, in the summer of 1996. I was a part of a group of youth in my church that signed up to volunteer as youth leaders for EOYDC’s summer program. This was an exciting time for me as a teenager because I felt independent and a sense of maturity being a youth leader. EOYDC is an amazing place. While at the summer program I learned to be culturally diverse and explore my creative thinking. The children and youth leaders experienced learning to play instruments, cooking a variety of different foods, computer programing classes; as well as going on weekly field trips all over the Bay Area.

Later I became a Program Director for a non- profit organization , a Women’s Facility for homeless women and children and a certified Domestic Violence Counselor. During my time at the organization, I was able to utilize my leadership skills that EOYDC taught me as a youth. Working with disenfranchised adults and children I provided them with resources such as housing, medical, and advocacy to help end their crisis situation.

An important lesson EOYDC taught me was the value of education and how important it is to have it. I am a senior at DeVry University, Oakland CA, and will receive a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration, with a concentration in Healthcare Service Management. With EOYDC being a culturally diverse place, I learned how crucial it is to be knowledgeable on whom I am as a black woman, and to embrace experiences of other cultures. I am a member of DeVry’s African American Student Union club, as well as an advocate for ending homelessness. I also am a proud mother of an 11 year old daughter, who had the pleasure of participating in EOYDC’s summer enrichment program last summer (2015). She enjoyed her experience so much, she’ll be returning every summer, and looks forward to the day she can become a youth leader, like myself.

I must say thank you to Ms. Regina Jackson and the staff at EOYDC for all their hard work and dedication to the program. Ms. Regina is an icon and a woman I admire. She creates a warm, safe, and caring environment for the youth of Oakland.

Lauren Chambers

Case Manager, Safe Passages

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Business Administration 07

My name is Lauren Chambers. I am a graduate of the best historical black college, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. I graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor in Business Administration. Since my graduation date I have been working in Oakland with middle and high school students, in the capacities of after-school programming and now as a case manager for high school students.

I have been affiliated with EOYDC since I was seven years old. My first memories of EOYDC are in the gym; I played several games as a young child at EOYDC. I’ve always felt that EOYDC was a safe place and I’ve had several great memories from the center. One memory that stands out was when Mark Curry would come to our basketball games and I was able to assist him with the score table whenever I was not playing. I was able to develop a strong relationship with Mr. Curry as a young child that still lasts today. Whenever I see him it’s always love because of the relationship that we built at EOYDC.

EOYDC is a loving, safe space that has been catering to young people for so many decades and it has always been a place where any young person can go to develop their skills. As a youth, I was able to help myself develop in multiple educational areas and also help other young people develop their own skills. I consider EOYDC to be my first job, as they provided me with skills that I used throughout my journey to adulthood. I was a young person that was helping other young people; this wasn’t because I had to, but because that is the environment that EOYDC creates. I attribute my ability to mentor, to be a fast learner, the development of my dynamic people skills, and a host of other learned skills to EOYDC. I am thankful to have been a part of EOYDC as it has been the driving force behind my career, advocating for young people in the city of Oakland.

Le’Jon April Payne

Co-Founder, Art of Confidence Foundation

International Educator

When I first walked into EOYDC I had no idea that the foundation of the summer program and the leadership that I would observe would become the model for my career. Since I was a young girl, I always wanted to be a part of an organization that focused on building youth leaders, empowering girls, and enhancing the community as a whole. It was at the EOYDC I began to dream of my future and realize that I would be able to make a significant difference in the world.

The leadership program at EOYDC is critical, to the enhancement of our youth in the city of Oakland. This program allows youth to see themselves in ways they may never imagine. It allowed me, to see myself, in the future and gave me a foundation, where I could begin to dream and believe ideas about my future. Through this dynamic opportunity, I was able to explore the leader I would become. The leadership program at the EOYDC gave me powerful hands on experience. There are not many places in urban environments, where youth can actually explore real leadership roles that will help guide and define their future. Being at the EOYDC every day, working full shifts, gave me a valuable experience. It actually allowed me to choose who and what I wanted to become. I never envisioned that I would become an International Educator or that I would be a co-founder of a foundation that focuses on serving underprivileged youth around the world. As I reflect on my life, I realize and I have always known that EOYDC played a large part in that.

Growing up in Oakland I could not always see my future. Just like most teenagers, I was rebellious and stubborn and had a strong desire to prove that I was not afraid of anything because I was from Oakland. It wasn’t until this type of thinking caused me to come to a crossroad in my education that I realized there had to be more to life and whatever “more” was I wanted it. I wanted a future and I wanted to inspire, confused, and lost girls like myself, to dream. Not to just dream any dream, but dream big dreams. I wanted to inspire others to believe in themselves beyond the parameters that society had set for them. EOYDC gave me hope for my future and actually gave someone, like me, who was not well put together at that time, an opportunity to explore what it meant to be a leader. Everyday having the responsibility of coming to work, implementing programs, and working with children was very important to my future success. Very easily I began to learn responsibility and that someone was depending on me. This experience enhanced my conflict resolution skills and taught me how to work with people who were different from me, but shared a common goal and passion. Through this one experience, my eyes begin to open and I realized that there were endless possibilities for my future.

When I left the EOYDC, I went on to continue my education in Atlanta, GA. I soon graduated from Clark Atlanta University with my Bachelor of Social Work, then Oglethorpe University with my Masters of Teaching in Early Childhood Education, then Cambridge College in Boston, where I received my Specialist Degree in Leadership Administration. I am now in the process of completing my Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership with a focus on Social Justice, while living and working abroad.

I currently reside in the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi where I am an International Educator and the Co-Founder of the Art of Confidence Foundation in Atlanta, GA. I have the pleasure of working with various children around the world. During my breaks I continue to work with other non-profit organizations to provide performing arts programs to youth in poverty to help improve their academic skills. In addition, I organize camps, for spring, winter, and summer breaks, where students are able to explore performing arts, photography, fashion, and their own creativity.

I am grateful for the EOYDC and their impact on the community. I hope to continue to follow in the footsteps of their leadership and make significant gains around the world when it comes to empowering our youth in poverty and urban environments to rise above any and all circumstances. I hope to inspire others to believe the best, hope for the best, and most importantly, become their best at whatever dream or belief they have. A lot of good things come from Oakland and the EOYDC is continuously shaping the lives of our future leaders. I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to be a part of a life changing organization and hope to continue giving back to communities in need in the future!

Taahira Major

University of California Riverside, B.A. Public Policy and Environmental Science
minor in Acting

Long before I became a graduate of the University of California
Riverside with a major in Public Policy and Environmental science
minor in acting, a mother of a 5 year old, a full time Biology lab
manger assistant and a part time actor. EOYDC played a part in my
shaping my views on what I should expect in my life and to strive for great opportunities. I starting attending EOYDC when I was in 5th grade and through out the years that I spent there I was able to take West African dance classes and have the opportunity to dance for the opening for the Magic Johnson computer center that is currently still at EOYDC. I also received the opportunity to be offered to go on a one week backpacking trip in Yosemite and it was a mind blowing experience for me in valuing nature and its worth.

I currently live in Pasadena,California with my son and continue to
further my studies in Environmental Science while working on
submitting myself to a graduate school while pursuing acting. Ms. Regina
has been a phenomenal leader with developing EOYDC to be a great place
for youth to come and get away from the wild streets of East Oakland.
I am proud to be a alumni and a powerful women of EOYDC.


Miesha Marzell

University of Iowa, Assistant Professor in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health, College of Public Health

My academic journey began at Georgetown University, as a first-generation college student and a student-athlete. Although I believed I was smart, what was primarily communicated to me was that I was an athlete (the first question I got asked on campus: “What sport do you play?”). Since I didn’t understand my academic purpose, I graduated (with a degree in psychology because I knew I wanted to help people live their best and healthiest lives) but left college never wanting to step foot in another classroom. However, my first job, working with an autistic boy, convinced me I did need more education, and I was back in a non-degree psychology program three months after leaving Georgetown.

I chose to pursue another professional goal of mine — to be selected for a U.S. Olympic team in and field — which took me home to Oakland, California. I trained at the same time I was working at the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) as the Homework Coordinator.. As I worked with at-risk youth, especially African Americans, I realized I wanted to also make a difference at the community level. When I asked for guidance from the agency’s executive director, she advised me to get a degree in Social Work.

I received my MSW from the University of Southern California and held various counseling jobs. The position of academic advisor at Penn State sparked my interest in a career in a university setting. I applied to the Biobehavioral Health PhD program, although initially my view of the career options at a Research I institution such as Penn State was limited to teaching. Fortunately, my excellent advisor opened my eyes to the role of researcher, which I ended up enjoying more than I could have ever thought. Research was the bridge between my community work and the empirical evidence that I thought could enhance it. I also learned how to teach, and I consider mentoring students to be a great joy of my profession.

My advisor also supported my continuing journey as a student-athlete, encouraging me to train for the Olympics while getting my PhD. Sports participation is important to me personally and it provides an ideal model for health in my work. Although I did not make the Olympic team, I realized that the process is just as important as the outcome (a message I try to get across to my students who take my evaluation course in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health). After graduating from Penn State, postdoctoral positions at UC Berkeley and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas further prepared me to reach my career goal of faculty member at a well-respected university, and now I am very pleased to realize my dream here at Iowa.

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