Miguel N. Abad, representing Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education (ASPIRE)
Born in the Philippines and raised in
the Bay Area, Miguel is the Student Life Program Director at College Track in
Bayview-Hunters Point, San Francisco. A proud graduate of the City College of
San Francisco and the University of California, Los Angeles, he also serves on
the Educator Action Group for Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) to
increase support for undocumented students. Miguel’s mission is to serve the
youth most impacted by the opportunity gap and help guide young people in
taking the responsibility of creating a more equitable society.
Hyphen: Why did you want to get involved
with Mr. Hyphen?
Miguel: I felt that I could utilize whatever
attention I may garner from Mr. Hyphen in order to promote and bring visibility
to the issues and topics that are important to me -- whether it be education,
youth, immigration or Bayview-Hunters Point. I also feel like being part of
this year's festivities is going to be both fun and a humbling experience. I've
been able to meet and speak to most of the other contestants, and it has been
so encouraging to see the crucial, inspiring work that these Asian brothers
have devoted their life's blood to. And as many of the young people like to
tell me every day, "Why not? YOLO!"
Describe a typical day for you.
During the day, I am bouncing around the city meeting with
program and community partners. From 4 to 7 pm, I am usually at my program site
with College Track, where I supervise and coordinate art and music programs,
yoga classes, and leadership workshops. In addition, I reach out to young
people about various employment and internship opportunities available to them
in San Francisco. I also do my best to practice my own personal wellness by
playing pick-up basketball games at the YMCA and reading.
What spurred you to pursue work in
I grew up in a home where my parents didn't have the
privilege of obtaining a college education. Of all my best childhood friends, I
was one of the few who was able to have that privilege. I feel that it is my
duty to promote and support young people in achieving their educational and
life goals. Everyday, in the faces of the youth I serve, I also see the faces
of my childhood friends who didn't make it. Through my work, I want to honor
the past, the dreams, and the memories of those who weren't able to access a
higher education. I do the majority of my work in the Bayview-Hunters Point
community of San Francisco, which is one of the most historically and
culturally rich communities in the city. The success of Bayview and the young
people in this community will have very real implications on the future of San
Francisco, which cannot be overlooked or ignored.
If you could give a message to today’s youth -- what
would it be?
Adults don't hold all the answers. The main thing I
continually remind the young people I work with is that they have loud,
powerful, valuable and important voices. There are many ways to express those
voices, whether it's through community service, leadership, school, work or a
job. The first step is to set your voice free.
What upcoming projects do you have on
your plate/are most excited about?
Recently, I began to get involved with an organization
based in Oakland known as Brothers on the Rise. While the organization is
small, they are providing crucial early engagement for boys of color. They
provide programming at elementary and middle schools in the bay area focused on
helping boys of color develop life skills that promote health and success
through leadership, enrichment opportunities as well as counseling. Secondly, I
began my journey at College Track about four years ago, and the young people who
joined the program during that time are now high school seniors. Together,
we've gone through a long and arduous journey. Despite the odds stacked against
them going into high school, the resilience and tenacity that each of these
seniors has displayed continually reaffirms my faith in our young people. All
40 have received acceptances to colleges and universities all over the state
and country. I have no doubt that they're going to contribute positive change
to this world and at the same time rep their families and communities.
The 7th Annual Mr. Hyphen Competition is Saturday, April 27th in San Francisco. For more info and tickets, go here.