Against formidable odds, four from Cal Prep are entering Berkeley this fall

Cal Prep’s Cal Four

Alana BanksAlana Banks: ‘Sometimes you just need a gardener to dig a hole and watch you grow. Cal Prep did that for me.’ Read more…


Genesis AlfaroGenesis Alfaro: ‘I will be an example for other women like me.’ Read more…



Dwayne AndersonDwayne Anderson: ‘Coming from (my) circumstances has made me want to change the community.’ Read more…

Maribel GarciaMaribel Garcia: ‘Failure just wasn’t an option.’ Read more…


Maribel Garcia maintained a 4.0 grade point average, although pregnant and raising a baby. Alana Banks, floundering with an early speech impediment and a “special needs” label, blossomed into a stellar math student. Dwayne Anderson, virtually abandoned by his parents, intends to study psychology so he can help people who suffer similar fates. Genesis Alfaro is determined to be a role model for other daughters of Latino immigrants who, she knows, often don’t finish high school or are discouraged from going to college — as she was.

Against high odds, all four are coming to UC Berkeley in the fall. And all just graduated from the same small central Berkeley school, Cal Prep, a charter school in which UC Berkeley is a partner. A fifth member of Cal Prep’s Class of 2012 was admitted for spring, but has chosen to start at UC Irvine in the fall, instead.

Cal Prep — formally known as the California College Preparatory Academy and housed in the former St. Joseph the Worker school on Jefferson Street — attracts students from underserved communities throughout the East Bay and steers them in a direction they might not have found on their own: college. Getting into a four-year college is a graduation requirement, and many of Cal Prep’s graduates are the first in their families to go to college.

“Failing just wasn’t an option,” says Garcia. “Cal Prep has taught me to fight for what I really want, and I’m doing it. I fought and struggled to make it to UC Berkeley, and I’ll be there this fall.”

Cal Prep is just seven years old. Its first senior class graduated last year, and all of the graduates were accepted at four-year colleges. One came to UC Berkeley.

This year, the number is four. Although the university, through the Division of Equity and Inclusion’s Center for Educational Partnerships as well as the Graduate School of Education, maintains close ties with Cal Prep, the students received no special consideration in the admissions process, according to CEP Deputy Director Gail Kaufman.

All four have overcome significant adversity to earn their places in Berkeley’s incoming Class of 2016. To celebrate their accomplishments thus far, they agreed to tell their stories. (See links to the right to read more.)

As Alana Banks puts it: “Cal Prep believed in me before I did.”

Previous NewsCenter articles:

Cal Prep’s first graduates — all of them — get into college

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