“Teen Services taught us that we were more than what the community perceived us to be and that we were capable of being organized and responsible beyond the classroom.”
A little about me:
Age 27. I was born in San Francisco and raised in Sonoma. My father is a carpenter and my mother just started working in real estate.
I love to make music and art.
What I remember about Teen Services:
When I was in high school at Sonoma Valley High, there was nothing to do on the weekends. The Shop [a teen music venue in 1999] provided me a safe environment to socialize, have fun, and gain experience in the music industry. After attending many shows and becoming friends with some of the crew, I decided to volunteer my time.
Initially I was just hanging out. Then I was a volunteer at The Shop and when the No Name Café opened on campus, I was hired as a barista. I stuck with both of these teen-operated programs for over five years. During that time, I was a volunteer, barista, manager, chaperone, and adult board member [at The Shop].
Some of the best memories I have of these Teen Services programs are those shared with the others that worked and volunteered along side of me. I loved spending time with these people while doing something meaningful for everyone in my age group.
What I gained from Teen Services:
The Shop and Teen Services provided me with a community, a network and a purpose. People like John Randal, Dave Robbins and Cristin Lawrence [Felso] taught us that we were more than what the community perceived us to be and that we were capable of being organized and responsible beyond the classroom.
I gained confidence and work experience for my current profession. Designing fliers and putting on shows directly applied some of the knowledge I acquired at SVHS, and it gave me direction as to what I wanted to do in life.
Working for the No Name Café was crucial for me because I was more independent than a lot of my peers. I had just started driving and needed to pay for gas, car insurance, and a cell phone because my parents couldn’t afford to pay for those things for me. It is also how I met my first girlfriend – making smoothies during lunch. Additionally, the No Name put up my artwork and that gave me a good
reputation among my classmates because I would interact with ALL of them.
What I valued most about Teen Services is that it gave me a direction to pursue. It helped me to figure out what it was I wanted in a career.
Where I am now and where I’m going:
Currently I am a graphic designer for one of the world’s leading hi-performance powerboat companies. I am responsible for many design elements for the company; however, my primary function is creating and maintaining branding through advertisements for our email marketing campaign. I also design trade-show displays, tee shirts, social media advertisements, and schematics.
I finished classes at Santa Rosa Junior College, where I received two Associates degrees, one in Graphic Design and one in Behavioral Sciences, in addition to two certifications in Graphic Design and Package Design. Now I am enrolled at Humboldt State University and plan to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Media Communications by 2018.
I have a list of goals for the next five years, and I keep them on the forefront of my mind:
• Earn a Bachelor’s Degree-Graduate with Honors
• Travel and teach in a foreign country (South Korea or Spain)
• Write and design a children’s book
• Record a full-length album
• Start a Master’s program
• Volunteer for a local nonprofit in Humboldt County while pursuing my education.**
What are you proudest of?
That I see things through. It took me almost 10 years to start a bachelor’s program, but
I’ve never stopped working on my educational goals, and I’ve done a lot with my time
outside of school.
** Mike has already reached this goal! Once he arrived at Humboldt State, he was faced with the reality of increased living expenses and resorted to living in his car for awhile. He was surprised to learn that he was far from alone and that there is a serious homeless student population at the college. He has already started volunteering at a nonprofit helping these students, but Mike now has a new goal: starting his own nonprofit to support students in need of housing.