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Making Waves Academy News | Making Waves Foundation News | Stories

Top Stories That Made Waves in 2021

As we begin to transition into a new year, we’re also taking a moment to reflect on the people, programs, and initiatives that made waves in 2021. Below is a snapshot of our top stories of 2021.

Filling in the Gaps: A New Partnership to Support Wave-Makers in Pittsburg, California

Student posing with diploma

As part of a broader strategy to address disparities across Contra Costa County, Making Waves Foundation launched a new pilot partnership in the spring of 2021 with Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, California, which includes college access programming and the opportunity for Pittsburg High School students in need to apply for scholarship and coaching support through Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as CAP. “It’s been special to be able to share my own experience with these students—with being first-generation, not really understanding the process for college, even dealing with the reality of leaving your family,” shared Coaching Services Manager Dr. Kristina Wright. “There are so many deserving students through all of these different districts—in Pittsburg Unified, in West Contra Costa. That’s why this partnership with Pittsburg has been so meaningful, because they’re all deserving of an opportunity. We have to find ways to reach them and support them, because they’re all amazing, and they’re going to do really great things in the future.” 

Read more: Filling in the Gaps: A New Partnership to Support Wave-Makers in Pittsburg, California

Making Waves Academy Celebrates its Largest-Ever Graduating Class!

Dr. Evangelia Ward-Jackson, Senior School Director with graduate

Nearly 100 students, the largest ever class to graduate from Making Waves Academy, celebrated their achievements at a drive-thru commencement ceremony in June 2021, with diplomas presented on a traditional stage and photo opportunities with school leaders and board members provided. “Our Wave-Makers have worked diligently to achieve their goals, and they have persisted, in excellence, despite competing distractions and the impacts of this unprecedented school year,” said Senior School Director Dr. Evangelia Ward-Jackson.

Read more: Making Waves Academy Celebrates its Largest-Ever Graduating Class!

“You Have a Light About You”: Meet Wave-Maker Jamaya Walker

Jamaya Walker and Kristina Wright hugging

In the spring of 2021, we featured the story of Jamaya Walker who was a part of the first graduating class at Making Waves Academy, where she found her passion for poetry and writing. Jamaya went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is a published author and community advocate. “I’ve blossomed into the exact thing that the Wave-Maker Affirmation is. I am a Wave-Maker. I am an agent of change. I will recycle my success,” she shared.

Read more: “You Have a Light About You”: Meet Wave-Maker Jamaya Walker

Teacher Appreciation Month Celebrates Silver Linings, Grit, and Resilience

Headshots of Natalie Crespo and Joshua Amey on blue background

For Teacher Appreciation Month, we spoke with four Making Waves Academy faculty members who embody the school’s core values – community, resilience, respect, responsibility, and scholarship – especially during remote teaching. “Over Zoom you have to do so much more to get kids engaged, and because of that I feel it’s created greater opportunity to know students on a deeper level. Those moments of connection are what I’m really focusing on,” said Natalie Crespo, a middle school teacher.

Read more: Teacher Appreciation Month Celebrates Silver Linings, Grit, Resilience

“No One Is Doing This Alone”: Students Find What It Takes to Thrive at Cal

Student holding Cal flag

UC Berkeley holds the distinction of having the highest number of students from Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as CAP, with 92 students currently enrolled, all of whom are students of color, first-generation, and/or from low-income households. In the winter of 2021, we spoke to four students to find out what life at Cal is like and how they’ve engaged with the Making Waves community.

Read more: “No One Is Doing This Alone”: Students Find What It Takes to Thrive at Cal

Planting a Seed for What Is Possible: Home Libraries Build Literacy and Opportunity

Child with books around them

A stack of books may not seem extraordinary, but it can be life changing. Through a long-running collaboration with the University of Chicago My Very Own Library program, in partnership with Scholastic Books and Making Waves Foundation, students at Making Waves Academy received free books again in 2021 to help create their own home libraries as well as virtual literacy resources to support students and families during distanced learning.

Read more: Planting a Seed for What Is Possible: Home Libraries Build Literacy and Opportunity

Giving Back and Making Waves in Healthcare

Photos of Carol, Yessenia, and Jose

In the fall of 2021, three Making Waves alumni now in careers in healthcare, Jose C., Yessenia Q., and Carol T., shared their stories in modeling empathy in providing patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. “You’ve got someone’s life in your hands. That’s a huge responsibility but it’s also a big cross to bear to know someone has to do it. I want to be the one to help. It’s one of the most direct ways I can give back,” said Jose C., a Wave-Maker from the 5th Wave, a UC Merced graduate, an EMT and volunteer firefighter.

Read more about Jose’s storyRead more about Yessenia’s storyRead more about Carol’s story