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Top Stories That Made Waves in 2023

by Making Waves Education Foundation

Making Waves Education Foundation » News Stories » Top Stories That Made Waves in 2023

Year in review

With the new year around the corner, we are highlighting our top stories of 2023. From updating our brand to honoring the Class of 2023 – we had a lot to celebrate with our Making Waves community this year.

As we continue to partner with students from 5th grade through college and career, help make college affordable and graduation attainable for Bay Area students, and share college and career resources with as many students and families as possible – we also have a lot to look forward to in 2024. 

Here are the top themes and stories that made waves in 2023.

From Howard to UCLA to Yale, Majority of Wave-Makers Earn College Degrees Debt-Free
Collage of 5 college graduated Wave-Makers in their cap and gown

In the Class of 2023, Wave-Makers graduated from nine University of California campuses, nine California State University campuses, three Ivy Leagues, one HBCU, and several private universities such as Scripps College and USC.

Introducing the Making Waves Academy Class of 2023
Crowd of students in graduation attire are ceremony

Within the graduating class from Making Waves Academy, 97% chose to pursue higher education and 3% chose vocational or military programs. “What a journey you have been on the last four years. And yet you thrived,” CEO Alton B. Nelson, Jr., shared in his speech at the ceremony.

From 5th Grade to Senior Year: Preparing for College
Photo of Yoltzin speaking and smiling at podium with blue wave and white text for Voices of Making Waves

“I’m a senior at Making Waves Academy,” shared Yoltzin Wallace. “That means I’ve been thinking about college since 5th grade! My older brother, with the help of Making Waves, showed me that anything is possible after I graduate… I can study and pursue my interests wherever I want.”

Finding and Prioritizing Yourself in College
Photo of Allison Cubillas in UC San Diego graduation cap and gown with light teal wave on left side with text for Voices of Making Waves

With support from Making Waves, Allison Cubillas graduated from UC San Diego without any student loans. “Whatever you want to be in life, be the best you can be at it.” The first-gen college grad said this advice from her late father drives her to this day, in her personal life and in her career.

The Journey to a Debt-Free Degree and Business Career
Photo of Doris wearing graduation stole in UC Berkeley library with bookshelves behind her and blue wave on side with white text for Voices of Making Waves

Doris Martinez applied for our Making Waves program because of the “life-changing” scholarship, coaching, and other resources. “It was amazing because this scholarship would allow me to graduate from college debt-free,” shared Doris, who graduated from UC Berkeley this year and is starting a job at EY this January.

Introducing Making Waves Education Foundation
White graphic with Making Waves Education Foundation logo and blue and orange gradient wave at footer with white text for College. Graduation. Career.

After a year-long brand analysis, we updated our brand in 2023 to match our mission. Our updated name, logo, and overall brand clarify our focus on education and help us reach more students and supporters. 

Three Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship
Teal graphic with lightbulb icons, headshot of Danielle Hall, and text for three ways to make the most of your internship

In one of the most popular stories for the second year in a row, College Coach Danielle Hall provides tips for taking advantage of internships. “The hope is that you’ll walk away with a better understanding of yourself and the field,” she shared.

Insider Tips from a Recruiter: How to Avoid Mistakes and Stand Out
Picture of Ariadna Diaz and "Insider tips from a Recruiter" written in teal and white lettering to her left

A recruiter at Meta, Wave-Maker Ariadna Diaz shared an inside scoop for students on what matters most in job applications and interviews. “It’s so important to get an internship. The specific internship does not matter if you get some exposure to the workplace and skills that you can get from any type of work,” she shared.

Taking Advantage of Every Opportunity and Breaking First-Gen Barriers

Wave-Maker Anthony Jacobo Gonzalez was selected by the Office of the Governor as a College Corps Fellow focused on food security. “I’ll be able to help students not worry about food while they’re trying to break barriers in obtaining their bachelor’s degree,” the UC Davis student shared.

Pursuing a Law Degree and Advocating for Representation in Law

Headshot of Brenda wearing suit jacket and blue wave with quote marks and text for Voices of Making Waves

“I saw how many people in my community didn’t have people to advocate on behalf of them or inform them of their rights. I knew that the best way for me to become that person was to go to law school,” shared Wave-Maker Brenda Quintanilla, who is studying law at UC Davis and helping other future lawyers by sharing about her experiences. 

Tips for First-Gen College Students from a First-Gen Grad
Alison Paxtor in grad cap and gown in front of East Bay sign

Alison Paxtor, a Wave-Maker alumna and Cal State East Bay graduate, shared her first-hand tips for making it to graduation. “As I reflect on my experience, college has brought many accomplishments into my life. However, college was not easy,” she shared.

How to Network During College as a First-Gen Student
Juritzy at AMA table with classmates at campus fair event with club

Juritzy Mata, a Wave-Maker who graduated from Cal Poly Pomona and who was one of our inaugural marketing and storytelling interns, shared the strategies she learned to build a community and form connections in college.

Making Waves Offering $300,000 in College Scholarships to Bay Area Students
Graphic with blue and orange gradient and photo of student looking down at his phone

Thanks to a new donation, we are excited to open our college and career success program to more students. We’re also using technology to better reach Gen Z. “We want to support more students to earn their college degrees, to be able to afford it, and to graduate with minimal to no debt,” shared CEO Patrick O’Donnell.

About Making Waves Education Foundation

At Making Waves, we are committed to educational equity. Making Waves Education Foundation is a Bay Area nonprofit that supports Making Waves Academy – a public charter school with more than 1,100 5th through 12th grade students – and leads college and career programming with more than 430 college students.​

Knowing the opportunities that come with a college degree, we partner with historically underrepresented and underserved students to help make college affordable and graduation attainable. Centering the journeys of our students, our personalized approach includes college and career coaching, scholarships, and financial planning.​

Our alumni network includes more than 730 college graduates, who earn their degrees and land jobs at more than twice the rate of their first-generation, low-income peers, with 85% graduating debt-free.

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