This Women’s History Month at CCER, we had the honor of spotlighting two amazing members of our staff: Maria Gonzalez and Alexis Sullivan! Both Maria and Alexis are on the College and Career Community Impact team and are shining examples of CCER’s pillars: leading with race and centering community.
Maria (she/her/hers) is a College and Career Community Impact Strategist, which means she supports college and career readiness initiatives with partners across the Road Map Project, such as the College & Career Leadership Institute. Her passion comes from having shared experiences with opportunity youth in the Road Map region and wishes to continue closing the gaps and barriers encountered by young people of color in the education system.
Alexis (she/her/hers) is also a College and Career Community Impact Strategist, leading various college and career readiness initiatives with partners across the Road Map Project region. A graduate of a Road Map Project high school herself, Chief Sealth, she continues to support low-income and first-generation students in the Seattle Public Schools.
We got to know them a bit better through some questions, and got to hear about who inspires them, advice to their younger selves, and how being a woman impacts how they show up.
CCER: What woman/women have inspired you the most and why?
Maria: My mom and my grandmother have both greatly inspired me, My grandmother is the fiercest and wisest person I know, she is 84 years old and still so strong and active, she’s outspoken, and being around her is truly medicine. My mom is so inspiring she raised me and my 2 siblings on her own and has always had an unmatched work ethic, which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it (she began working as a child) so my mission in life is to be able to take care of her.
Alexis: A woman who inspired me to pursue my work in the education field and not let my age stop my passion to do this work is Malala Yousafzai. She faced much adversity at a young age and turned her story into a platform to advocate for all women to get an education. I aspire to make a fraction of the impact she has made in educational access for all.
CCER: How has being a woman impacted how you show up in the world?
Maria: I think being a woman, (particularly a woman of color) people tend to underestimate my capacity to overcome. I think that my mere existence makes some people uncomfortable, so I show up as authentically myself as I can, a heavily tattooed, beige/brown girl in very unexpected spaces. One of my favorite quotes that has been popularized by the mujerista and immigrants’ rights movements recently is “they tried to bury us they didn’t know we were seeds.” So as said seed, I like to sprout up in the strangest places and share my insight.
Alexis: Being a white woman in our society gives me a lot of privilege. When I walk into most spaces, I know my presence won’t be questioned. I strive to ensure that those spaces become places where the voices and ideas of people of color are centered and become the norm. As an alumni from the region, raising a daughter who will one day attend school in the region, I work every day to make sure the schools are a place where all students, no matter their race or gender, can pursue the pathway that they want. I know to achieve this future, we must begin to dismantle racist systems and give voice to those at the margins.
CCER: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to 10 year old you?
Maria: I would tell myself to use my voice and not second guess myself so much. To learn from my mistakes, and to unapologetically be myself and own it no matter what.
Alexis: Explore. The world is huge, so get outside and see all that it has to offer. Explore many different pathways and try new things even if they seem scary. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and always remember to save time to have fun too!
CCER: Okay, one last question–Rihanna or Beyonce?
Maria: Oooh both! There’s room for both of their greatness on my playlist.
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