Archive for March, 2012

Congratulations Imelda!

Monday, March 26th, 2012

MMAP is VERY proud to say that one of our outstanding seniors, Imelda Rodriguez, has been accepted to her first choice school: Syracuse University! Imelda is a Senior at Eastside and started working with MMAP after her high school freshman year in 2009.  Even as one of the youngest in the program, she quickly emerged as an extremely intelligent, outspoken, and talented researcher and artist. Imelda’s qualities of artist talent, professionalism, intellectual curiosity, maturity and compassion led to her being involved throughout the year and each summer following her inaugural program.

Imelda states, “When I received my acceptance letter, I was filled with joy! My dream had come true! I can’t wait to go to Syracuse because of the amazing study abroad program and the ability to live in a completely different environment from the one I’ve grown up in in California.”

She cares about her peers and her community, and will stop at nothing to better them. Imelda is consistent, responsible, thoughtful, confident, and is not afraid to express this to her peers. In doing so, she encourages the people around her to act to their fullest potential.  We cannot wait to see the person Imelda becomes in college and beyond–she is absolutely destined for big things. Congratulations, Imelda!

The Power of Positive Thinking: Ashon Hunter

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

MMAP’s Director of Youth and Community Development, Aria Florant, sat down with Ashon Hunter last week to check in about life and school. Ashon is a Junior at Eastside College Prep, and was a Teen Mural Assistant in Summer 2011 for the theme “Vision”. He has a 3.6 Grade Point Average, is on the basketball team, and has one of the most positive attitudes of anyone I know. We talked all about how this is the key to success–and how when you believe in greatness, it comes to you.

He also spoke on how much working with the Director of Lyricism, Keith Cross, has helped him with his schoolwork. “In the summer, every day Keith Cross would teach us some new technique to improve our writing skills. It requires a lot of brain power to sit there and write something in a specific time limit. Writing rhymes translates into writing essays.”

Ashon also told me how much writing helps him mentally and emotionally; “Writing rhymes keeps my head on straight, and helps me maintain a positive attitutude. I sit there and think of different stories, and different scenarios. I try to view life as someone else, and I try to make a story. And that expands my creativity, and thats another thing that helps when I’m writing an essay–I’m able to pull something out of my head, articulate it, make it sound clear, and flow well. An essay is like a big poem and you have to make everything flow together to make it work.” MMAP is so proud of Ashon, and can’t wait to see what great things he accomplishes in the coming year.

Teen Art Instructors lead the way

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

(Top) Ariana, Cristina, Yolanda (Bottom) Lucia, Darryl

Meet Ariana, Cristina, Yolanda, Lucia and Darryl – HEArt’s 2012 Teen Art Instructors. Each of these incredibly talented East Palo Alto natives have carved their role in HEArt as creative, wise, patient role models for our middle schoolers at Ronald McNair and 49ers Academy. Ariana is a senior at Palo Alto High School and helps youth explore new art forms and themes in a fun, responsible and insightful manner. When she is not in HEArt, she is busy leading her own soccer league and applying for college scholarships. Cristina is a freshman at Carlmont high school. As a former HEArt participant, students look up to her for sage advice and artistic abilities.  (And if you want to buy a shoe cleaning kit, she has spearheaded a business plan through the BUILD program!) Yolanda is a sophomore at EPAA who brings her smile and spunk to every HEArt class. She is a spoken word poet, a dancer, and goes by DJ “Yoyo” in MMAP’s History through Hip Hop program. Lucia is a sophomore at EPAA whose dream is to study sociology to prepare her for a career working with and inspiring youth.  Students gravitate to Lucia because she always listens and supports them with an encouraging smile and sense of understanding, no matter what they are going through.   Darryl is a junior at EPAA who goes above and beyond in everything he does. He leads the dance cohort at McNair with a unique style and calm presence that helps motivate students to find their own individuality.

Thank you Ariana, Cristina, Yolanda, Lucia and Darryl for inspiring us every day with your leadership and vision.

Young Adult Movement for Community Change

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Under the guidance of Bob Hoover, MMAP has been collaborating with other community leaders to tackle many issues East Palo Alto faces, especially unemployment and education. The collaboration hopes to recruit other young adults, especially those who grew up in East Palo Alto and have since graduated from college. Their initiative is a fresh approach to working together to achieve the kind of social justice MMAP cannot achieve alone.

On Saturday, MMAP representatives attended a meeting for the Young Adult Cadre of leaders in East Palo Alto. Their charge: to bring change to East Palo Alto and take the city in a new direction. On Saturday, MMAP and its partners came together to discuss a vision of collaboration for the future. They brainstormed what an ideal East Palo Alto would look like and started to draft their vision and mission statement. In the words of Bob Hoover, “We have to take control of our destiny, right now.”