Carolann Perales will have two A.A. degrees when she starts Cal State East Bay in Spring 2015. She earned her first A.A. in Language Arts in May and will finish her second degree, in Social Science next fall.
Perales has been participating in B:E programs since 2010. She graduated from the two-year b2b program in 2012 and completed two New Beginnings Fellowships.
Perales was eight years old when she was put in foster care and aged out of the system when she turned 18. Perales wants to be a social worker because she had experiences she didn’t like and thinks there needs to be a stronger screening process to become a foster parent. “We need better social workers and I want to work with children,” says Perales.
“Calling B:E for the first time was the best thing I have done,” said Perales. She says it helps to have support, especially when other people surrounding you are negative and telling you that you can’t do it. “Don’t give up and make sure you have a support system. Keep taking yourself forward; when you give up, that is when you lose,” says Perales.
When she first started b2b, Perales didn’t really want to engage or interact. Over time, and after being in various cohorts, she began to open up. She says before she was in the shadows and now she is in the light.
“That stuff, it opens you up,” said Perales about the coaching and team building in the cohorts.
“At first I was ashamed to be centered as a foster youth, but now I feel like everybody has a story,” says Perales. “After being in cohorts with other foster youth, I feel like I’m not the only person who goes through hardships in life. I came out as a different person.” Perales made a decision to strive for better because she wanted to do better than others in her life. She wants to be self-sufficient and not be dependent on SSI or other social services. She says her family can be negative and it used to bother her, but now she has learned to accept it and that you can’t change people. Perales says she grew stronger and learned a lot about herself while in the B:E programs. She sees herself differently, has a higher self-esteem and is more positive. She says one of the greatest skills she has learned is to advocate for herself and ask for help when needed.
Perales says that participating in B:E programs was an experience she will never forget and she appreciates the connections she has made. While working at the President’s Office at Laney, Perales developed a personal relationship with Dr. Webb, the Laney College president. She also became very close with the staff at B:E and EOPS, where she currently works. She says, “They believed in us and made us feel special.”
Perales also made a connection with Alison Traina, B:E’s Education and Employment Specialist. Perales is shy and always hated public speaking, but with Traina’s encouragement, Perales became more comfortable with it and found her voice. Perales appreciates the relationship she formed with her b2b tutor Linda Gardner. She met Linda in 2010 and Perales was happy she attended Perales’ graduation in May. “She taught me everything, even if she doesn’t know, she is down to do whatever. She always has a strategy to help,” says Perales.
Perales has been told she is making a lot of progress by different people in her life. “They tell me that I have grown and improved, I feel like I have accomplished a lot.”
She has many hopes for the future. She envisions having a good job as a social worker and a place of her own. She hopes one day to be able study abroad in Paris. She wants to give back and volunteer at orphanages in Mexico. She also wants to adopt one day after she finishes college. She will continue to work for EOPS this summer and is excited to finish her last semester at Laney this fall.