My Story Paid Forward

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By Cesar Ramirez, Braven Founding Fellow, Student at University of California, Berkeley

cesarramirezIt was nearly forty years old at the time I first called it my home, and yet it still stands strong within my memories. It was my haven throughout grade school. With such courage and significant strength, this mobile home, which sat in my uncle’s backyard, became more than just a place to live. It taught me that having access to resources is important, but it is more important to effectively utilize and appreciate the resources to which I do have access. Unfortunately, the world saw this mobile home as a worn down piece of metal with broken windows covered by tape, but to twelve-year-old me, it was nothing less than an adventure. As I grew older, I realized that this adventure of mine would help me forge my future goals and ambitions.

It was not until I went through the Public Narrative/Story of Self workshop as part of the Braven experience that I discovered gratitude, admiration, and thankfulness for this mobile home and my parent’s ability to provide me with what they could. Years prior to this experience this mobile home was simply a reminder of where I came from and not a major contributor to my ambitions and dedication to my goals. The workshop challenged me to identify the roots of my daily motivation. It gave me the courage to develop a narrative that otherwise would have been very difficult for me to talk about. It was not easy being vulnerable and sharing my story at first, but after this experience, I now see myself going back to my high school and presenting my narrative to all the seniors. I do this not for my own benefit; I do it for the generations that come after me and for those that came before me.

What is it about my Braven experience that compels me to pay it forward? The answer is quite simple. First, the growth I was able to make in my leadership, confidence, and sense of purpose was immense. Second, I experienced one of the strongest networks of support where guidance and a genuine willingness to help were always present. Lastly, even after my completion of the program, there is still a strong sense of support coming from the Braven Team. They make sure I have access to opportunities that will help me foster my leadership and help me succeed. For these reasons I feel both compelled and committed to share this opportunity with other students and hope they have a similarly empowering experience.

To all the current Braven Fellows, I hope you enjoy discovering your story of self and learning why it is critical for us to focus on the importance of The Braven Network we are creating together.