Jailene Lopez, Camryn Downey, Jennifer Diaz, and Alison Paxter in graduation caps and gowns
Wave-Makers Jailene Lopez, Camryn Downey, Jennifer Diaz, and Alison Paxter are among this year’s more than 100 Wave-Maker college graduates.
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Celebrating More Than 100 Wave-Makers Graduating College

by Making Waves Foundation

Making Waves Foundation » News Stories » Celebrating More Than 100 Wave-Makers Graduating College

Graduates are recycling their success and pursuing career and life dreams

This year, more than 100 Wave-Makers celebrated receiving their degrees from more than 20 colleges and universities across California and the United States.

Supported by Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as the College and Alumni Program, or CAP, the majority of Wave-Makers are first-generation college graduates. The program provides scholarships, one-to-one coaching, financial literacy services and more to support students in graduating college as quickly and with as little debt as possible.

“We are so proud of this year’s graduating Wave-Makers. Graduating from college is an amazing accomplishment in and of itself, but doing it during a pandemic adds a layer of complexity and called on our students to be even more resilient than they already are, so we know this year’s graduates are ready to tackle all their long-term goals,” shared Melissa Fries, executive director of the College and Alumni Program.

Meet some of the Wave-Maker college graduates

Graduating college, with determination and with honors

“I’m very, very proud to be able to reach one of the biggest goals that I set for myself: to complete college,” shared Jennifer Diaz, a first-generation college graduate who earned a degree from California State University, East Bay.

“That [Making Waves] scholarship definitely helped me get to college,” she shared. “I remember how worried I was about being able to afford my college education. Once I got that email that said I got accepted to the Making Waves CAP program, it was the best feeling in the world.”

Jennifer in graduation gear with Bay sign and Jennifer with hands in air celebration graduation
Jennifer Diaz celebrating her graduation from California State University, East Bay

A criminal justice major, Jennifer graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors, completed a restorative justice internship, and is now beginning an internship with the State Bar of California.

“I’m very glad that all my family could watch me complete one of the biggest accomplishments that I’ve done so far,” said Jennifer, whose family, including her grandparents from Guatemala were at the graduation ceremony to see her receive her diploma. “They’re very proud. It was a long journey. They also feel very excited and emotional. My mom and my grandmother are criers, so every time we talk about graduation they have tears in their eyes,” she shared.

Pursuing passions for health, equity, and advocacy

A community advocate, student leader, double major, and Wave-Maker, Haifa Algabri graduated from Mills College.

“I wanted a better life for myself as a person, as a woman, and also as an advocate for my community,” she shared about her desire to pursue higher education. “When I started going to classes at Mills, I started to appreciate learning and I solidified my interests. I can keep learning for the rest of my life,” said Haifa, who is a first-generation college graduate and came to the U.S. from Yemen when she was four years old.

Light blue graphic with quote makes and text for Voices of Making Waves next to photo of Haifa holding phone to light
Wave-Maker and Mills College student Haifa Algabri.

Fascinated by how the sciences can help solve systemic issues and by the connections between different areas of study, Haifa double majored in biopsychology and public health and health equity – with hopes of attending medical school in the future.

“Especially as somebody who’s trying to be a doctor for everyone, I need to learn about people’s histories and become involved in their advocacy,” she shared.

Supporting students to and through college

Students currently participating in Making Waves’ college success program, known as CAP, are from Making Waves Academy, Pittsburg High School, and throughout the Bay Area. While the current program is open to Making Waves Academy graduates and Pittsburg High School graduates, the foundation aspires to increase college access and graduation rates and support more students from Contra Costa County specifically.


ABOUT MAKING WAVES FOUNDATION

With a unique focus on college attendance and graduation, Making Waves Foundation supports historically underrepresented and underserved students in pursuing their dreams. Making Waves Academy is a public charter school in Richmond, California, educating more than 1,100 students and Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as CAP, provides coaching, scholarships, financial literacy, and career support for more than 500 college students as well as a network for more than 500 Wave-Maker alumni.

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