26 Sep Alexis Grace – Youth Support Coordinator
By Jenna Watanabe, Marketing & Development Coordinator
JW: Hi Alexis! Thank you for hanging out with me today. I’d like to start off with the same question I’ve been asking everyone—what made you want to work with R.O.C.K.?
AG: I wanted to come back and give back to the San Francisco community and saw this position online. At first, I was afraid to apply because I thought maybe I didn’t qualify, but I kept seeing it and thought it was a sign I needed to apply to this job.
[What motivated me most] to apply was when I saw the community I would be serving. I used to work for a preschool and then an after school program at Hunter’s Point and it was one of the best experiences of my life—but the program ended up moving back to Oakland. Plus I love working with middle school and I wanted to also see what it was like working with high school. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to work with youth behind the scenes.
JW: Very cool. So far it’s been great to have you on the team! So do you live in SF now?
AG: No, I live VERY far away from the city. I live 50 miles away in Antioch and live with my Grandma part-time because she lives in Berkeley. But my commute home is about 2 hours.
JW: Wow, thanks for your commitment! I’m glad you have your Grandma’s place in the East Bay as an option. What is your favorite thing about working at R.O.C.K. so far?
AG: The community. I love it. It’s a smaller organization, so you get the chance to know everybody. It’s nice because you connect with everybody so [I’m never] just on an island by [myself]. That’s the thing with nonprofits, the smaller you are, the bigger you can hit home.
JW: It’s so true. I always like to say ‘we’re small but mighty!’ Now I know you’re still new to the position, but what are three words you’d use to describe your job?
AG: Youth, attentiveness, and stay ahead. I work with youth and need to always be a step ahead so I can help them, because if I fall behind then they fall behind, so I have to always be ahead.
JW: Makes sense. That’s a quality of a leader, right there! How would you define success in your position?
AG: When everyone is on the same page and everyone’s voice is being heard and when the youth are happy. We are here for the youth so when they have smiles on their faces and feel like their needs are met, that’s success for me.
JW: Good point. We can definitely all agree on that! Okay, here’s some fun stuff. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would spend it on?
AG: My grandmother. She’s my best friend. I love her.
She lives in Berkeley and she’s one of the last African-American people living in Berkeley and we’re working right now to get her house paid down. She’d be the first person I’d throw some money at. Like get it done, girl, get it! Then my Mom and Dad.
JW: Aw. That is so important for that area and more so for your family to keep their roots there. Very cool. Do you have any personal mottos or mantras you’d like to share?
AG: I have a couple—live life to the best. Never take anything for granted. And say what you mean and mean what you say.
JW: Can you expand a bit on what that last one means to you—“Say what you mean and mean what you say”?
AG: I’m the type of person who is straight to the point. If you hurt somebody’s feelings, you hurt somebody’s feelings. I feel like we learn from every situation or every instance that happens in our lives. So you might say something that hurts someone’s feelings at that moment but guess what? You’re going to live from it; you might even learn from it. So own it.
JW: That’s a great one to live by. Our greatest lessons often live in our mistakes, don’t they? Okay here is one I love asking because it can tell you so much about a person. It’s your last meal–what are you eating?
AG: My Grandmother’s fried fish, my Dad’s Yam’s and my Mom’s greens and her mac’n’cheese. For dessert I’d have [my Mom’s] sweet potato pie. And a coke!
JW: Wow my mouth is suddenly watering. Sounds amazing! Now I wanted to ask you a few meaningful questions so we can get to know Alexis at her core. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
AG: My job. It’s going to a job I love and knowing that what I’m doing is making an impact.
It’s not even a job. When you do what you love it’s not going to work. So coming here–I’ve had jobs where [I really didn’t want to go]–but here it’s really easy.
JW: It’s so true! Well since we’re on the topic of working with youth, what would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
AG: Ha ha! Thirteen … what was I doing at 13? I guess I was an 8th grader. [I’d say] “Girl get it together because high school is coming! High school is about to get real!”
JW: And finally, do you have any advice for kids who are struggling in school?
AG: Find your niche, stick with that. Find your weaknesses, make them your skills.
JW: Wow! I think you just found another mantra! Thanks Alexis for taking the time to chat. We’re thrilled to have you.