Inside SFS

SMART Alum Creates Change in the Bay

“It’s all about agency.”

First generation scholar Enrique Perez ’10 says, “It’s really come full circle for me.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that students go on to do amazing things in their community once they leave SMART.”

Enrique grew up in the Mission District.  His parents immigrated from Mexico in the 1980s and raised Enrique and his two siblings, Patricia and Jose, in a tight knit community.  His mother learned from their neighbor about the SMART program, an eight year program that provides low-income students access to an exceptional education and the skills needed to thrive in college and in life.  “She really instilled in us a passion for education and would seek opportunities any way she could.  To her, college was never going to be a question for us.”

Like his siblings, he enrolled in SMART. Enrique soon began middle school at The San Francisco School, during which he became aware of the resources available to him and how to seek out supports and opportunities, for high school and college.  He attended San Francisco State University and graduated in three and a half years with honors. Enrique pursued a political science degree in hopes of igniting a meaningful career in community service.

After his graduation in 2018, Enrique has focused on supporting low-income students and students of color.  He works for the education non-profit Innovate Public Schools, advising Bay Area students in their educational journeys, equipping them with the tools and information they need, and advocating for members in their community’s education landscape.

Enrique mentions how fulfilled his community work has made him. “For me, it’s all about agency. Giving that agency back to the community. I got that support from my parents and organizations like SMART. This is my opportunity to give back.”

Adapted from SMART News

Posted March 13, 2020