By Sarah Meike, R.O.C.K. Special Projects Coordinator

“To believe in myself.”

This was the response from Raymond Fisher-Travis, a former participant of R.O.C.K. programs, when I asked him what was the most important lesson he learned from R.O.C.K. For every question, his answer was almost immediate, like he had been preparing for this interview his whole life, eager to finally put into words the impact R.O.C.K. has had on him.

Raymond started programs with R.O.C.K. when he was in Kindergarten, growing up in Skill Drills, camp and karate. One summer, he was selected to receive a scholarship to go to a camp in Washington where he was exposed to kids whose families lived down the street from Bill Gates, or owned an island. With R.O.C.K.’s assistance, he went on to receive a scholarship to Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory High School.

In my interview with Raymond, we spent a lot of time talking about one R.O.C.K. staff member that profoundly impacted his life, our former Director of Programs Teodora Ildefonzo-Olmo. It was her belief in Raymond, and supportive pushes in the right direction that encouraged him to do his best in school and karate. He went on to describe the influence Thea had on him, “I could do anything I wanted to. I wasn’t sure what I could do, or the powers I held, but R.O.C.K. taught me to confront my fears and achieve my goals.”

Now, Raymond is in his third year at UC Riverside majoring in Sociology in law and society. He has done some pretty impressive internships during the summers, including one at Stanford studying teens’ smoking habits. This summer, he has an internship at SFO working in the equal employment department. Again, taking inspiration from Thea, he plans to continue his education getting his Masters degree. Raymond feels like he should be able to get his masters since Thea did it while working full time, organizing the R.O.C.K. karate program, and raising a child. He thinks that while he is still young without half of the responsibilities, he can manage to get his Masters too.