In 2018, East Oakland resident Martha Alva Velásquez was looking for work to support her parents while searching for a way to obtain her high school diploma. A referral to Civicorps’ “earn-while-you-learn” program was a perfect match, enabling her to complete her studies while working as a Conservation Intern. Despite finding herself in the midst of the first wave of the pandemic, she graduated in June 2020 – a great achievement by any standard.
When Martha first enrolled at Civicorps, a park ranger gave a presentation to Corpsmembers about his job during Civicorps’ weekly Community Meeting. Something clicked inside Martha. Her path was now clear: to obtain more skills and study to become a park ranger.
By 2019, Martha had successfully completed Civicorps’ Conservation Crew Leader Academy. After advancing to Crew Leader and having earned her high school diploma, Martha enrolled in her first college course in Park Management at West Valley College in the spring of 2021.
Martha attributes her success to the support of staff. “They taught me how to lead, how to be responsible, and how to talk with other people. And now, I am stepping up—like [Dean of Students] Mr. Dunn says, ‘There’s no stopping, keep going!’”
We are not the only ones to notice how exceptional Martha is. In April 2022, Martha was recognized by The Corps Network, the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, as a 2022 Corpsmember of the Year!
This prestigious award is only given to four Corpsmembers across the entire country.