“Some of us are late bloomers, but spectacular when we flourish.” Manuel uses this quote from sociologist Victor Rios to describe his own spectacular transformation from gang member to college graduate to educator. Throughout his teenage years, Manuel was involved with gangs, living by the street code “only the strong and ruthless survive.” His older brothers who were also in gangs served time in prison and never finished high school. During high school, Manuel had an experience that caused him to turn around his life. Graduating high school and going to college became his singular focus. He achieved his goal and graduated from Fresno State University in 2019. He is now a teacher at Wonderful College Prep Academy, a school serving underserved communities in the Central Valley.
“(A program funded with philanthropic dollars) provided me the opportunity while in high school to break through my own challenges. I understand firsthand how philanthropy can be a powerful tool for change, especially in underserved communities.”