Beyond Emancipation

Will: A Great Communicator

When Will arrived in Oakland a few years ago at age 19, education was not, as he puts it, at the top of his mind.

“I had nothing on me but a backpack,” says Will, “and I’d dropped out of school in 10th grade. Going to college was not something I thought I could do.”

After his sister suggested he check out Merritt College, where B:E’s b2b program offers educational coaching and other supports, Will found to his surprise that going to college was something he not only could do but would excel at.

Will earned a 3.1 grade point average in his first semester. Staying in a homeless shelter at the time, Will says the educational coaching he received from B:E helped him maintain his laser sharp focus on education despite his stressful living situation.

“Everybody at B:E wants to see us former foster youth succeed in this world that’s not designed for us to succeed,” he says.

Now a communications major at San Francisco State, Will shares his story with other young people every chance he gets so they too will know that higher education is for them even if, like Will at 19, they don’t see how.

Asked what he would say to a young person just starting out at B:E, Will says he would tell them “B:E is a family.”

“Before being an organization or a program that can help you,” he says, “it’s a family that’s going to stick by your side through thick and thin.”

Will loves living in the dorms at San Francisco State where, he says, “everyone has plans and goals.” When he’s not studying, he likes to write and read books that give him a different perspective on life.

Will says communications is a great fit for him. “Everybody needs a good communicator,” he says, “and in this world today, not enough people can do that.”

One thing Will likes to communicate to younger youth is: “When you’re pursuing success, it’s important to know that it’s not a destination. It’s a journey.” He adds, “It’s made me a better person to realize that.”

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